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Cricket in Australia (1987)

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The pyjama game education content clip 2

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

Former Australian cricketer Ian Chappell tells his version of the beginnings of World Series Cricket in 1978, when media baron Kerry Packer made Chappell captain.

Curator’s notes

A fascinating behind-the-scenes glimpse of the start of modern cricket, and some insight into Kerry Packer’s method of operation. Detractors called it 'the pyjama game’ in reference to the new brightly-coloured cricket team uniforms.

The long slabs of file match footage, intercut with equally long slabs of interview are representative of the slower, less 'interventionist’ editing style of twenty years ago.

Teacher’s notes

provided by The Le@rning FederationEducation Services Australia

This clip shows excerpts from an interview with former Australian Test cricket captain Ian Chappell about the beginnings of World Series Cricket (WSC). The interview is intercut with archival footage of the first night-time limited-overs match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in November 1978.

Educational value points

  • The clip reveals Ian Chappell’s view of the establishment of WSC in 1977. Chappell was one of the key players approached by media baron Kerry Packer when he began to plan the first WSC team. Chappell was criticised for joining Packer’s World Series side by those former captains and players, cricket administrators and media commentators who believed he had betrayed the tradition of cricket for commercial gain. However, while captain of the Australian Test side, Chappell, and others including Dennis Lillee, had campaigned for the improvement of player payments and conditions. The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) ignored player discontent and thus provided an opportunity for Kerry Packer.
  • The clip shows scenes from the first WSC night-time limited-overs match played at the SCG on 28 November 1978. The match drew more than 50,000 spectators and established the commercial success of WSC. The first year, 1977, had not been successful, with the first Packer Super Test between Australia and the West Indies played at VFL Park in Melbourne attracting only 400 spectators. The WSC Australian team captained by Ian Chappell won the 1978–79 season against the 'rest of the world’ team in contrast to the sound defeat of the Australian official Test side in England.
  • Ian Chappell reveals the genesis of WSC in the clip. Player managers John Cornell and Austin Robertson campaigned for improved financial reimbursement and recognition of their players; they aided Kerry Packer with the initial set-up and administration of the series.
  • Kerry Packer attracted top-class WSC players by paying them a fee that was seen to be more commensurate with their market value. WSC introduced a new audience to the game through the limited-overs matches and changes designed to improve the spectacle for television audiences, including the coloured uniforms that led to the pejorative 'pyjama game’ label, body armour and cricket helmets. The anthem 'C’mon Aussie C’mon’ provided a brand identity for the competition that incorporated an appeal to Australian nationalism.
  • Kerry Packer (1937–2005) played a major role in the establishment of WSC. As owner of a wide range of business interests under the Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) banner, Packer demonstrated his business acumen, his capacity to challenge authority and his intense love of sport. After being refused broadcasting rights by the ACB in 1976, Packer financed some of the world’s best cricket players, including the West Indians and the English, and set up a rival competition, WSC. The commercial and popular success of the new style of cricket, declining Test match audiences and the enormous fee paid to the ACB for exclusive rights forced the ACB to grant Packer’s Channel Nine exclusive broadcasting rights to all Australian international cricket in 1979.
  • Ian Chappell (1943–) is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest Test captains. He debuted in first-class cricket playing for South Australia as an 18-year-old. He joined the Australian Test team in 1964 and replaced Bill Lawry as captain in the Test series of 1970–71 against England. Said by some to be brash, abrasive and hostile towards authority, there is no doubt that he was a trailblazer who inspired great loyalty and respect from other players. A key member of Kerry Packer’s WSC side, he retired from professional cricket in 1980 and became a cricket commentator and sports media personality.

This clip starts approximately 45 minutes into the documentary.

This clip shows excerpts from an interview with former Australian Test cricket captain Ian Chappell about the beginnings of World Series Cricket. The interview is intercut with archival footage of the first night-time limited-overs match at the Sydney Cricket Ground in November 1978.
Ian Chappell Well, I think it basically started with Dennis Lillee. Dennis was being managed at that stage by Austin Robertson and John Cornell. And, um, I think Dennis – as I say, he was the one who, more than anybody else who had a bit of a bee in his bonnet about money, and I already explained the reason why. And I think one night he was complaining about, you know, the lack of money, and also it was a bit more than lack of money. It was our lack of involvement. I mean, we were never asked about things involved with the playing of the game of cricket, and we thought we did know a little bit about that. So when Dennis complained, I think John Cornell sat down with Austin and said, 'Well, you know, what can we do about it?’ And that’s really where World Series Cricket developed.

Ah, John Cornell and Austin Robertson came to me at the Gazebo here in Sydney, and we had a meeting and they said, 'This is what we want to do. Are you in or you’re out?’ At this stage, I’d retired from international cricket, I’d been out of it a season. And I said, 'Yeah, well, I mean, I agree with the principles of it, and, uh, I think it’s a good thing.’ So I said, 'Yes, I’m in.’

Narrator In November 1978, 50,000 people came to the first game under lights at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

Ian Chappell It was a Friday afternoon I got the call. I was down in Melbourne getting ready to play for North Melbourne, and, ah, I remember I had a pair of jeans on and a denim jacket, and I suddenly got this phone call saying, 'Get out to the airport, jump on a plane and get up to Sydney as quick as possible’, from Austin Robertson. And, so I did that, got a cab into Kerry’s office and I walked in and shook hands with him and he said, he said, 'What are you, a so-and-so cowboy?’ And we got talking about cricket and what I thought about World Series Cricket and the concept, and we talked about that. And then he said, um, 'OK.’ He said, 'Who do you want in this bleeping team?’ There was that problem, and the only other problem that really arose was over the captaincy. He said to me, 'Righto, you’re captain of this lot.’ And I said, 'Well, you know, just hang on before you go anywhere.’ I said, 'Greg’s captain of the present Australian side. The players might not want me as captain.’ He said, 'What do you think this is, a bleeping democracy or something?’

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