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Book Review
Chappelli Speaks Out
Published: 2005
Pages: 258
Author: Ian Chappell & Ashley Mallett
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Rating: 2.5 stars
By Archie Mac
26 Dec 2005


Has there ever been a person more destined to play for and captain his country at cricket then Ian Michael Chappell?

A cricket-mad father, a mother whose grandfather captained Australia, coached professionally from the age of five, his own backyard turf pitch, and a brother who was a fine cricketer in his own right to play backyard Test matches against - from a young age Chappell called a spade a shovel. As he once said in an interview: "if you don't want an honest answer don't ask a Chappell".

In typical Ian Chappell style, if he rates someone as either a cricketer or a person, he is lavish with his praise, if not they cop both barrels right between the eyes.

In particular on his hit list in the pages of Chappelli Speaks Out are Ian Botham, Don Bradman, Ray Jordan and Steve Waugh.

For the first time that I have read, Chappell gives his version of the infamous confrontation between Ian Botham and himself at the MCG bar during the Australian summer of 1976/77. The versions are quite different - I can't go into detail because of the strong language used - but suffice to say there is no love lost between the two.

Most of the comments relating to Sir Donald Bradman have been aired before, most recently in the television documentary Cricket in The 70s on ABC TV. There is one story that I have not read before concerning Don Bradman, Ian Chappell as a youngster (early 60s) and his grandfather Victor Richardson, who was also no lover of Bradman. Chappell overhead a conversation between the two former Australian captains, but unfortunately again because of the language used, no details can be given here. His comments on Ray 'Slug' Jordan are much easier to sum up - Chappell simply labels him a cheat, and told the Australian captain of the time Bill Lawry that if Jordan played he did not wish to be considered for selection.

"I didn't like selfish cricketers when I played, so why would I like them now" and "As far as I am concerned Steve Waugh was a selfish cricketer" - that is Ian Chappell's summation of Steve Waugh the cricketer. He also says 'if you've seen one Steve Waugh innings, you've seen the lot'.

Chappell gives Steve Waugh's announcement of his retirement before the start of the Indian tour to Australia as a sign of his selfishness 'so he could have a grand tour the last season'. Ian Chappell cites a few more examples, but I think you get the idea.

I have read all of Ashley Mallett's previous books, and have found him an articulate and enjoyable writer, but really thought Mallett superfluous to requirements in this latest offering. There are so many quotes of his subject throughout the book, that I began to wonder why Ian Chappell - an experienced journalist in his own right - did not simply write this book himself.

Ashley Mallett gives details of Ian Chappell's endeavours and commitment to a number of causes such as the plight of refuges and his efforts to obtain recognition of the first Australian cricket team to tour England that was made up entirely of native Australians. I was surprised that no details were given of Chappell's benevolent gestures and concerns for former teammates, such as his recent efforts to help Gary 'Gus' Gilmour.

Just to confuse matters, this book has been released in the UK as Hitting Out - The Ian Chappell Story. I am not sure of the reason for the name change in the UK, but I imagine Ian Chappell is not widely known by his nickname of Chappelli outside of Australia. They have also changed the front of the dust jacket from that of a recent photo of Ian Chappell in the Australian version, to that of Chappell in his playing days in the UK edition.

If you would like to learn about the cricket of the 70s and one of Australia's greatest ever captains, then you can't go past Chappelli Speaks Out, and if you don't like what you find then as Chappelli says "if you don't like me there's a few other people (for me) to chat to anyhow".

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