Ian Chappell’s ‘side of the story’ against sledging allegations from Glenn Turner

Spiro Zavos Columnist

By Spiro Zavos, Spiro Zavos is a Roar Expert

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    Ian Chappell contacted Spiro Zavos to give his side to a story. (AAP Image/ Nine Network)

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    History, it is said, is written by the victors.

    If this is what happens, and it generally does seem to be the case, is this victor-history to be regarded invariably as the truth of the matter when contentious issues are discussed?

    This question has been generated for me by some emails I have exchanged with the former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell regarding his feisty exchanges with the New Zealand star batsman Glenn Turner during the 1974 Test match at Christchurch which New Zealand won, the first Test victory for them against the baggy green caps.

    Turner’s heroics with the bat during the Test was one of the main reasons for New Zealand’s victory.

    Turner has claimed that he was abused by Chappell during his second innings after an incident involving one of the umpires.

    In an article on The Roar, I quoted Turner, a victor-author if ever there was one, giving his version of what happened.

    According to Turner, he challenged the way Chappell was “abusing” the umpire over whether a mistake had been made about awarding a four or six to a boundary shot.

    Then, again according to Turner, Chappell turned on him: “Then he set about me as well. The language continued, and I just walked away. When I got to the other end, he had another crack at me.

    “Normally, if you play and miss, you would expect a few choice words, but when it is one sentence after another abusive sentence, it is taking it too far. He made reference to the fact that he would sort me out afterwards. I don’t believe you go to the office to be abused … The series took an unsavoury and regrettable turn then …”

    A couple of days after The Roar published the article I received an email from Ian Chappell:

    “Hi Spiro

    “Your piece on The Roar made me angry because it was not factual and included Glenn Turner’s lies “

    The email then gave me a long and detailed account of the incident Turner wrote about. It ended this way: “That Spiro is my side of the story.”

    I replied to the email noting that “I went through all the clippings and statements on the incident and did not find any public statement refuting what Turner alleged.”

    Ian Chappell replied immediately to this email: “Hi Spiro, I am refuting them now and I could find you a number of Australian players who were on the field that day who could do the same. Ian”

    I then asked Chappell whether he had published a refutation of the Turner story before.

    He replied: “Hi Spiro, In my book ‘Chappelli’ I go through the whole episode on the field. Pages 135 – 138.”

    Ian Chappell, like some other great Australian cricketers, notably Bill O’Reilly and Richie Benaud, always writes his own copy for his articles and books.

    This means that you get the flavour of the man through his writing, informed, combative, articulate and fiercely protective of his integrity.

    For this reason, I won’t paraphrase Chappell’s version of the events described by Turner. Here is his version, as he explained the incident to me in an email:

    “I was not abusing the umpire – I went to Bob Monteith to find out where he thought the ball landed. It was important because of the atrocious playing conditions concerning boundaries at Lancaster Park.

    “When Turner interrupted I told him to shut up. I was talking to the umpire, not him.

    “When he continued to interrupt (twice more), I again told him to shut up with the addition of the four letter word.

    “Shortly afterwards he was at the striker’s end facing Ashley Mallett when I was returning to the slip position and he was complaining to Rod Marsh about my language.

    “I again told him to shut up and stop annoying my players and get on with his batting, with the four letter word again used.

    “That was the end of the incident on the field.

    “That night after play, when it was NZ’s turn to come into our dressing room, captain Bev Congdon (whom I respected) told me Turner wanted an apology for what I had said on the field. I told him to tell Turner to ‘sing for his apology’ and Bev said: ‘That’s the end of the matter as far as I’m concerned.’

    “What Turner doesn’t say is that in 1976 on the international Wanderers tour of South Africa he used the same four-letter word in front of my wife at a social occasion …

    “Contrary to what has been written (on many occasions) I didn’t indulge in personal abuse to unsettle opponents: as a good Australian we could not that with an aggressive brand of cricket.

    “There were a few things that annoyed me about the way opponents played the game and when this occurred I would let them know that I wasn’t happy. It was never done to put them off their game and it was never premeditated.”

    For me, and I wonder whether readers on The Roar will agree with me on this, there is a clear ring of truth in the detailed way in which Ian Chappell has explained his behaviour during the Glenn Turner incident.

    Spiro Zavos
    Spiro Zavos

    Spiro Zavos, a founding writer on The Roar, was long time editorial writer on the Sydney Morning Herald, where he started a rugby column that has run for nearly 30 years. Spiro has written 12 books: fiction, biography, politics and histories of Australian, New Zealand, British and South African rugby. He is regarded as one of the foremost writers on rugby throughout the world.

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    The Crowd Says (45)

    • Roar Pro

      April 18th 2018 @ 5:08am
      Kurt S said | April 18th 2018 @ 5:08am | ! Report

      Chappelli has always seemed like a straight shooter and always encouraged inter team discussion after the day’s play. That is well documented by many ex players from other countries.

      Sledging would seem counter intuitive to after game inter team comradery.

      Umpires reports, if they took place back then, would have had some reference had they been subject to abuse of the like Turner mentions, surely.

      Maybe the author should investigate further and seek some third parties to get to bottom of the matter. Players, and a national captain’s legacy may be jeopardized if the soon to be review by CA deems rightly that sledging has sullied the game.

    • April 18th 2018 @ 7:14am
      BennO said | April 18th 2018 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Sounds like they both have reason to believe their own version.

      Chapell says I didn’t abuse him I just told him to shut the f**k up a couple of times but with good reason.

      If Turner doesn’t think it was good reason, he would naturally think he’s been abused. Seems a storm in a tea cup over events which are broadly not in dispute.

      Weird that Turner swearing in front of Chappell’s wife years later is somehow relevant, as though it’s an after the fact justification. That’s a really bizarre thing to raise.

      • April 18th 2018 @ 10:16am
        Blake Standfield said | April 18th 2018 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        If a grown man wants to have a cry about bad language then he can’t go using it himself.

      • Roar Guru

        April 18th 2018 @ 11:01am
        Chris Kettlewell said | April 18th 2018 @ 11:01am | ! Report

        I think the point about him using the same swear word to his wife was to suggest that he couldn’t claim that he was someone who just found those sorts of words really offensive or something.

        • April 18th 2018 @ 2:13pm
          BennO said | April 18th 2018 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

          He didn’t swear at or two Chappell’s wife. He said it in front of her.

          As for the language, I’m happy to swear but if someone swears at me as Chappell did to Turner, that’s different.

    • April 18th 2018 @ 7:35am
      BennO said | April 18th 2018 @ 7:35am | ! Report

      Looks like my comment disappeared into the ether.

      it sounds like both Turner and Chappell have reason to believe their own version.

      Chappell told him to shut the f#*k up, a couple of times. Chappell seems to think it was with good reason so it means it wasn’t abuse. Turner, presumably just recalls the Australian captain swearing at him, as the pertinent fact of the story.

      Both tell more or less the same story it’s just that Chappell thinks he was justified in swearing at him. Still sounds like abuse to me. Mild for sure, but I don’t know what else you’d call it.

      And the story about Turner swearing in front of Chappell’s wife (not at her or at Chappell) is irrelevant and bizarre to even raise.

      • April 18th 2018 @ 7:53am
        elvis said | April 18th 2018 @ 7:53am | ! Report

        Sometimes you meet people so wrapped up in themselves that unless you tell them to “shut up and f*** off”, they just don’t get the message. Usually self important people who think their input or presence is wanted when clearly it is not. And a lot of them get all insulted when being told the harsh truth and instead of modifying their behaviour go on a massive whinge fest.
        If Turner wants to believe he shouldn’t be abused in the office he should behave like he is in an office. I don’t go into the bosses office and start talking over someone already talking to the boss, and if I did I’d rightly expect to be put in my place.

        • April 18th 2018 @ 8:26pm
          What's left of Elvis rational mind said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

          Except Chappel isn’t Turner’s boss, he’s not HIS captain and in this instance, it would be the Umpire whose boss.If I waltzed up to my boss in an arrogant overbearing way and started talking crap about an issue which had already been resolved in my favour by my co-worker (as Turner had done saying it wasn’t a 6 to the umpire) I wouldn’t take offense to being told that matter had been resolved. In fact, I feel like a moron. Only an arrogant piece of sh!t would think so, which is precisely what Chappel comes across in his own passage.Tthe fact that Chappel thinks he gets to determine whenever he gets to swear AT people also paints him out to be a self-important sh1t who is above the rules. That he uses an example of the victim using the word in front of someone rather than at someone as an equivalence is more proof that he seems to think he feeling something ok, makes it ok. Me saying f7ck when I whack my thumb with a hammer in front of someone is not the same as me going up to someone and saying ‘f7ck off’. It’s really not difficult to understand, and only grubs would try to say otherwise.

      • April 18th 2018 @ 8:00am
        Gray-Hand said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:00am | ! Report

        Chappell mentions that Turner complained to Rod Marsh about his language, and back in the 70’s, the F word was far more offensive than it is now. Unbecoming an Australian captain in a sort of similar way to what the use of homophobic slurs would be today.

        By noting Turner’s use of the word in front of a lady (again, the 70’s), Chappell was no doubt attempting to deny Turner the moral high ground over the use of the word and/or demonstrate that the use of the word on the cricket field was not as taboo as Turner made out.

        Still all quite petty of course.

        • April 18th 2018 @ 8:24am
          sheek said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:24am | ! Report


          You mean the F word was LESS offensive back then because everyone used it. This was the 70s, not the 60s, when abrasiveness had replaced flower power.

          In 1967, a song about cartoon beagle Snoopy versus The Red Baron appeared, & each time the word “bloody” was sung, there was a beep. No such worries in the 70s.

          The F word is more offensive today as we live in an increasingly more political correct world.

          • April 18th 2018 @ 8:41am
            BennO said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:41am | ! Report

            I disagree with you there sheek. At least in the 80s, it was far worse to swear like that than it is today.

            Couldn’t say anything like it on tele, there were stupid laws about it, but now you can.

        • April 18th 2018 @ 8:40am
          BennO said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:40am | ! Report

          Yes, I understand what he’s trying to do by bringing it up. Doesn’t make it any less bizarre.

    • April 18th 2018 @ 8:42am
      sheek said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      Hi Spiro,

      Ian Chappell is my favourite Aussie cricket captain. Richie Benaud was the last before my time, but my personality more closely matches Chappell anyway. Chappelli is also one of my favourite all-time Aussie captains in any sport.

      Guys like Socceroo Peter Wilson, Wallaby Tony Shaw & Kangaroo Graeme Langlands, were other similar style captains from the 70s, although Wilson was a quiet achiever while retaining the toughness.

      When Chappelli first assumed the captaincy in early 1971, a profile on him described him as “not suffering fools”. As a then 14 year old, I asked my father to explain this phrase to me. I think the expression is apt about Chappelli.

      Ian Chappell practised tough love, led from the front, wouldn’t ask a team member to do something he wouldn’t. For example, he would never ask for a nightwatchman to take his place in the batting order. He fought for his men against an intractable & often uncaring board.

      I read many years ago Doug Walters & Rod Marsh, even perhaps the speed twins Lillee & Thomson all say, they would willingly follow Chappelli over a cliff, or words to that effect.

      I agree with BennO above that actually, both versions of the story appear correct when you look at it from their different perspectives & cultural backgrounds.

      I would like to add that Glenn Turner was a difficult & complex personality. While respected & admired by fellow Kiwis for his batting ability, he wasn’t widely liked I believe.

      In 1977, coming up to age 30 & current NZ test captain, he entered into a self-imposed exile at a time when NZ needed every talent they could muster. He went off to England to concentrate on his professional career.

      He returned for a couple of tests around 1982 but he was badly missed in the intervening years.

      Yes, I would accept without question Ian Chappell’s version of events.

    • April 18th 2018 @ 8:49am
      Paul said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:49am | ! Report

      If Chapelli was fiercely protective of his integrity, why did he decide to take a stump out of the ground and move it over a few feet, while batting during a Shield game? I was there and to this day cannot understand how the captain of Australia could do that. He showed complete contempt for both the opposition and the umpires.

      From that day on, I’ve thought he might have been a good cricketer, but not the sort of person I’d want to have a beer with. As a result, I have great difficulty believing anything he says or writes because he’s never wrong – you just ask him.

      • April 18th 2018 @ 9:34am
        BrainsTrust said | April 18th 2018 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        You were there at the ground?
        Well I was actually watching the Sheffield shield on TV in those days.
        The reason from what I remember is Dougie Walters was bowling really wide off stump and that offended him.
        Of course it wasn’t a one day match where every one of those deliveries would have been a wide.
        So what he then did was move the stump to wide of off stump to make a point.
        Ian Chappell was a hot head but he never went onto the fielding intending to play up.
        In the case of Turner it was because he believed that Turner was trying to get a six when it was a four.
        I don;t see any real difference in the stories just how they viewed it.
        The two widely different stories are Chappell vs Botham in the pub.

      • April 18th 2018 @ 10:14am
        jameswm said | April 18th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Paul you do realise that may have made it easier, not harder, to get him out?

        Feisty bu Chappelli but hardly that big a deal. And done to make a point as Brains Trust said.

        • April 18th 2018 @ 3:51pm
          Paul said | April 18th 2018 @ 3:51pm | ! Report

          This was how the captain of Australia reacted when a player bowled wide of the stumps. I’m sorry but his actions were really childish. I remember thinking so at the time and I was in my teens. All he intended to do was embarrass the umpires James, because they wouldn’t call the deliveries wides. Same game had to drop his pants to adjust his box, again with a clear intention to cause embarrassment.

          You might think it was no big deal now but it was big issue back then, especially for a bloke who was captaining his country.

          Hard to have respect for a bloke who acts in such a stupid manner to make a point.

          • April 18th 2018 @ 8:52pm
            sheek said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:52pm | ! Report


            You need to appreciate the background of the time (1975/76).

            Chappelli had resigned as test skipper & believed in was in his last season of 1st class cricket.

            I recall he was having a run-in with someone almost every week. He was fed up with both the ACB & SACA, both of whom he believed were treating the players, both international & state, with disdain.

            Test players were being asked to tour more often with little extra remuneration. It was becoming increasingly difficult to hold down a job, or get one, because of all the time required for cricket travel & playing.

            The genesis of WSC started in this season, leading to players being signed up for WSC the following season.

            Before you get stuck into Chappelli, go back & recall the increasing strain the players were being placed under.

            Benson & Hedges Tobacco Company had come aboard as chief sponsor that season (I think) but the players weren’t seeing any significant increase in their remuneration.

            There was a great deal of tension & agitation beneath the surface the the public was never privy to.

            These were not pretty times for players to try & concentrate on their cricket while fighting a behind the scenes increasing industrial war with their uncaring governing bodies.

      • April 18th 2018 @ 11:47am
        Maggie said | April 18th 2018 @ 11:47am | ! Report

        Actually that’s a very funny story about Chappell – and Doug Walters whom I suspect would have found it funny as well. Clearly the reason was as BrainsTrust suggests. And as jameswm points out it would have made it easier to get Chappell out, not harder.

        Feisty is a very good word to describe Ian Chappell. I too enjoyed watching him both as a player and as a captain.

        • April 18th 2018 @ 8:53pm
          sheek said | April 18th 2018 @ 8:53pm | ! Report

          Chappelli & Freddie Walters were also great mates.

    • April 18th 2018 @ 9:00am
      Pete said | April 18th 2018 @ 9:00am | ! Report

      Reckon if there’s any footage of the altercation, you’d be able to match up who said what … I’m gonna youtube it and lipread as best I can

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