Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
In the sport of cricket, an underarm delivery is a ball bowled by a bowler to a batsman in which the bowler's arm does not rise above the level of the shoulder. The Laws of Cricket now provide that an underarm delivery is illegal unless otherwise agreed before the match. It should be noted that a delivery will be a no ball if it bounces more than twice before passing the popping crease so an underarm delivery cannot be rolled along the ground.
Originally, underarm bowling was the only method employed. Later, an English woman, who was playing cricket alongside the gentlemen attired in the dress of the day for a lady (a long, widely blousing dress) was having difficulty in bowling with an underarm action due to the blousing dress and to counter this she began to bowl with an overarm delivery method. Soon after, a gentleman who had witnessed this action, began to employ it in club cricket matches. However, the overarm method was quickly banned and determined to be illegal.
It was not until many years later the overarm bowling method was finally accepted by cricketing authorities and grew rapidly in popularity amongst all players. By the 20th century, underarm bowling had disappeared from the game and bowling underarm was considered both weak and unsporting, almost tantamount to cheating.
An infamous incident involving an underarm delivery occurred on February 1, 1981 when Australia were playing New Zealand in a One-day International, the third of five matches in the final of the Benson and Hedges World Series Cup. New Zealand required a six to tie the match from the final ball, with eight wickets down. The Australian captain (Greg Chappell) ordered the bowler (his brother, Trevor Chappell) to bowl underarm to avoid the (unlikely) possibility that the No. 10 New Zealand batsman (Brian McKechnie) would score a six from the last ball to tie the match. Australia won the game but the New Zealand batsmen marched off in disgust and since that day the underarm bowling incident has been a source of discussion, both heated and jocular, between Australians and New Zealanders. It was described as "the most disgusting incident I can recall in the history of cricket" by the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, Rob Muldoon. Even the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser, called the act "contrary to the traditions of the game".
Brian McKechnie bears no ill-will over the incident but both Chappell brothers have publicly stated their embarrassment over the incident and, over 20 years later, are still reluctant to discuss it.
As a direct result of the incident, underarm bowling was banned by the International Cricket Council as not within the spirit of the game.
W K Lees recounted the underarm incident on New Zealand's "20/20" current affairs show, on Thursday 17th Feb 2005. He said for long after the affair there was still silence in the dressing room, which was broken finally and suddenly by Mark Burgess smashing a tea cup.
In the February 1981 underarm delivery incident, the batsman at the non-striker's end, Bruce Edgar , was on 100 not out at the time. Many people believe his innings to be the most overlooked century of all-time.
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