Cricket: 40 years later, do Aussies really understand sportsmanship yet?

Very few iconic Kiwi sporting moments have stood the test of time like the infamous cricketing underam incident exactly 40 years ago today.

How many other sporting events do we, as a nation, mark the anniversary EVERY SINGLE YEAR? We really should be over it by now...

On February 1, 1981, Australian cricket captain Greg Chappell instructed brother Trevor to bowl along the ground to Brian McKechnie, ensuring the NZ tailender could not hit a final-ball six that would tie their one-day match at the expansive Melbourne Cricket Ground and force a replay.

Esteemed commentator and former Aussie captain Richie Benaud described the incident as "one of the worst things I have ever seen done on a cricket field".

For AM Show correspondent Jason Morrison, the act served as an important life lesson.

"I was a little kid when it happened," he says. "It was one of those moments - a grow-up moment - when my father sat me down and taught me about sportsmanship.

"It was one of those things where you watched that, and got taught a big lesson about what's acceptable and not."

In subsequent interviews, Greg Chappell has admitted his professional and personal lives were in turmoil, and he convinced himself that Australians demanded victory at any cost.

"He thought he was doing the right thing at the time, but was quickly reminded that he wasn't," Morrison tells The AM Show. "I look at it with such shame and I know Australian cricket has had a few [others] over the years.

"Cricket is our one national sport and Australians expect certain things, and I think sometimes the players just lose sight of what we really actually want."

More recently, Aussie captain Steve Smith and deputy David Warner were suspended a year for ball-tampering - cheating - against South Africa, yet Smith was later named ICC Men's Test Player of the Decade 2011-20.

What message does that send?

Even more recently, stump microphones captured current captain  and wicketkeeper Tim Paine cruelly sledging Indian batsmen, as they fought to save their third test in Sydney. Ultimately, The tourists let the scoreboard do the talking, stealing the fourth test for an unlikely series victory. 

"I went to the cricket on Saturday night and it was getting close in one of those T20 games," says Morrison from Sydney. "Some hoon in the crowd yells 'bowl underarm' - it's still out there."

Just last week, Chappell was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in Australia Day Honours for "distinguished service to cricket as a leading player, captain, coach and administrator at the elite level, and to a range of charitable foundations".

"Greg Chappell is probably a shamed figure across the other side of the ditch," chuckles Morrison. "The bureaucrats who award these things... why did you pick this bloody year? 

"The man is owed a lot, and has been a formidable figure from that moment onwards in services to cricket and making sure it's better, improving sportsmanship etc etc... but don't give it to him on the 40th anniversay."

But former Blackcaps opener and now-AM Show sports host Mark Richardson identifies that pivotal moment as the start of something big. 

"It's done a lot of good since," he says. "It really did spark the trans-Tasman rivalry."

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