Today’s article looks at a Queensland Sheffield Shield campaign that failed differently.
They all hurt – the Queenslanders, anyway – but this one had a different flavor, mainly because of the Chappell factor.
We had (warning: writer’s Queensland bias) lured Greg to the North East in 1973 and he almost single-handedly dragged us to the title two years in a row while South Australia languished the last two times . Then in 1975-76 we saw… ah, you’ll find out if you read all the way through. But basically we didn’t win. Again.
To set the scene. Ian Chappell resigned as Australia captain in September 1975, but said he would stay on as a player and still captain South Australia, to give them more love. This means Greg has been promoted to captain Australia to play against the visiting West Indies.
(South Africa were set to do a tour, but they decided to cancel them for the sake of good, there would be barricades on the pitch. Instead, eight Australian Test players decided to do a tour of South Africa as part of an invitational team at the end of the summer – one of those tours that everyone pretended not to have done later in life.)
“Yes, yes,” I hear you say, “but what about Queensland?”
Well, again, the team looked good on paper. We had two Test reps (Chappell and Jeff Thomson), a borderline (Geoff Dymock), a great keeper (John Maclean) and Leggie (Malcolm Francke) who both could have played Tests, promising hitters (David Ogilvie, Martin Kent), a still-promising all-rounder (Phil Carlson) and a very experienced hitter who had decided to hang on for another year (Sam Trimble who needed 478 runs to equal Don Bradman’s Sheffield Shield record of 8,926 points).
Also, Ian Davis, a former Test player, had just moved up north. The main loss was Tony Dell who had retired after many years of excellent service. But we had Denis Schuller – a very solid bowler.
Silver two years in a row… surely this team could win gold?
Ian Chappell wrote in a pre-season column that “the old myth of Australian cricket only being as strong as New South Wales has been busted”, adding “much of the credit for detonating this theory must back to Western Australia and to a lesser extent Queensland”.
He said: “Queensland have never won the Shield, but they have set such a high price for trying to win it that it has made all the other teams more aware of the presence of the Silver Shield and has greatly added to the color of the competition.”
The first match of the season was against NSW at the Gabba. We normally won them… although it didn’t look like it at first when day one was canceled due to rain, NSW went for 250 and Queensland went for 227 (Chappell 105).
But then NSW were fired for 141 and we got all 165 runs for the loss of two wickets in 16.7 overs with nine balls to spare – good old Sam Trimble scoring 66 and Chappell hitting 86 runs in 72 minutes. This earned Queensland ten points for the outright win and six bonus points.
The good vibes continued against Victoria although rain stopped play the first two days. They made 208 (Thommo 4-64, Francke 4-64), Queensland were 7-261 (Kent 103) when the game was called off. Queensland earned 10 points for their win in the first set. “The natural ability of this Queensland batting team is limitless,” Chappell enthused.
Queensland went to Perth to play WA. We were fired for 211 (Brayshaw 6-48), got them for 157 (Thommo 6-47), hit well in the second dig for 293 (Maclean 78) and fired WA for 251 (Francke 5-56 , Thommo 4-73). The more I research Queensland, the more I like Francke – he was a game winner. It was Queensland’s first victory in Perth since 1969.
We were top of the standings with 43 points, then NSW (27), WA (26) and South Australia (19).
Direction South Australia which had been rejuvenated by Ian Chappell by focusing his love on them. Queensland were dismissed for 188 (Ogilvie 55, Chappell 54, Jenner 5-73), South Australia made 248 (Cosier 59, Hookes 53, Thommo 4-60), Queensland 229 (Greg Chappell 99 – caught in slip by Ian, Mallett 4 -58) and South Australia chased the 170 needed to defeat for three wickets (Ian Chappell 89). Looking back, it was the most crucial defeat of the season for Queensland.
Queensland had a disaster against the West Indies, sent off for 164 and 127 in response to the visitors scoring 381 – Inshan Ali took 11 wickets! Trimble, Carlson and Thommo missed the match due to injury.
The ground was widely criticized and Queensland’s sports minister called for the sacking of Gabba’s supervisor, Alderman Clem Jones. Politics may have no place in sport, but it did in Queensland around 1975.
Queensland were back on the pace against NSW. We made 381 (Chappell 124, Carlson 64), they got 260 (Thommo 5-84 – he also broke blue hitter Len Richardson’s left arm), Queensland made 5-276 (Ogilvie 132), and we obtained for 267 ( Francke 4-70).
Queensland topped the standings with 69 points, followed by South Australia (54) and WA (44).
“We really needed this win,” Chappell said. “With South Australia doing so well, we need to keep winning our games and it will come in handy if NSW can topple some of the other teams.”
Ian Chappell was accused of abusing the referees in a Shield game and it looked like he could have been suspended – in which case we might have won the Shield – but he escaped.
Oh, by the way, the Gilette Cup was on. Queensland played South Australia in the semi-finals, made 182 (Jeff Langley 59) then fired the South West for 97. .
Queensland played Victoria at the Gabba. We played an extra hitter, which meant there were only three specialty bowlers plus Chappell and Carlson. We struck first, made 216, but had them for 183 (Dymock 4-64), Queensland made 4-270 (Chappell 131, Kent 101), setting Victoria 304 to win.
They were 2-83 when… the last day rained and the game was a draw. That means Queensland got just seven bonus points from the game while South Australia picked up 21 for an outright win over WA in Perth. And Queensland had just two games to play while South Australia had four.
He would turn out to be huge, losing that day. Shit, rain!
Queensland took on Western Australia in the Gillette Cup Final. We put 236 (Chappell 62, Kent 61) and managed to beat WA for 232 (Chappell 3-38). We won a national title!
WA helped by beating South Australia. So on February 16, Queensland had 76 points on the table, SA 75 and WA 46.
But then SA beat Victoria (an incredible game where Ian Chappell scored 171 in a 364-point chase), giving them an 18-point lead over Queensland.
Both teams had two Shield games to play.
The South Australian Shield team withdrew from their Eastern States tour in protest at the game selection (Rick Drewer was dropped in favor of Bob Blewett).
We might win by forfeit! We will take it! But they sorted it out when Chappelli backed off. It’s a complete saga. But it could have won us the Shield.
Another match at the Gabba against WA. We needed full bonuses and victory points to overhaul South Australia. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article110805225 We got them for 320 (Francke 4-103), and we were 2-91 when the rain came… and did.
The last two days were lost due to rain. We only got two bonus points and were on 78 while South Australia got nine points against NSW. That put them on 103 against Queensland’s 78 – unbeatable.
“That’s it – we’ve made history and we can start thinking about next year now,” said Greg Chappell. “We faced a mountainous task anyway, although the rain didn’t spoil the game.”
The last match of the season was against South Australia at The Gabba. We hit first, got 348 (Carlson 88) and then…it rained. And rained. And rained.
So we came second with 84 points against 105 for South Australia.
This season was different from the others. Normally Queensland started strong at home, they stumbled away playing. In 1975-76, we started strong away, then we had a series of home games… which were cut short because of the rain.
Of all the failed Queensland Shield campaigns, 1975-76 was the most painful because so little was our fault. We only played badly in one game, against South Australia. The crucial games against Victoria and WA were in vain. And South Australia teased us by threatening to strike and they didn’t.
Queensland lost Ian Davis to New South Wales and responded by signing up Viv Richards for the 1976-77 season. So yes, that would surely work.
Anyway, we came last that year. We have to mix it all up.