The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
Email This Page
Old rivals spill bottle beans
- Chappell-Botham in renewed war of words over 1977 bar brawl

Melbourne: Re-igniting a war of words with Ian Botham, former Australia captain Ian Chappell said the ex-England allrounder did not deserve the knighthood conferred on him.

Chappell, who says he hasn’t spoken to Botham since 1980, unleashed a blistering attack on the former England captain in an article published by a local magazine on Wednesday.

This follows claims from Botham in his autobiography that he “flattened” the former Australian captain in a Melbourne bar 30 years ago.

Chappell dismissed Botham’s recounting of the events of their much-talked about spat in 1977 before cautioning the Englishman, who was knighted this month for his services to cricket and charity, about “peddling his lies”.

“There are many skeletons in Botham’s cupboard, ranging from stories of drug-taking to general thuggery, and if he keeps peddling his lies, there’s every chance more of these stories will emerge,” Chappell wrote.

“As I said when asked about his recent trip to Buckingham Palace: ‘someone is going to regret awarding him a knighthood’.”

Botham’s new book is titled Head On, but Chappell says it should instead be called “More Cricket Fairytales.

According to Botham’s book, the 1977 row started when the former Australian captain started rubbishing English cricket in a bar.

“I gave him three official warnings,” wrote Botham, “all of which he ignored, so the next time he started, I just flattened him.

“He went flying over a table and crashlanded on a group of Aussie Rules footballers, spilling their drinks in the process.”

Botham, who was in Australia on scholarship at the time playing for Melbourne University in the Victorian district competition, went on to claim that Chappell bolted for the door with him in pursuit. “Apart from having us in the same bar, the rest is a fairytale,” Chappell wrote.

Instead, Chappell claimed the spat began when Botham accused him of verbal abuse during a game between Australia and Somerset years before — a match in which the Aussie insisted he never played.

After exchanging a few choice words, Chappell claimed, “he (Botham) put an empty beer glass against my face and threatened: ‘I’ll cut you from ear to ear.’

“‘That will only confirm you are a coward,’ I said… I was leaning back in my chair at the time and when he pushed me in the chest, I fell backwards.

“I turned and headed outside where he yelled something about knocking my block off (on the cricket field) the next day. As I was walking across Wellington Street, I turned and replied: ‘what, with your sore arm and all, deary'’

“With that, he became enraged and the former Australian fast bowler Ian Callen had to restrain him by clutching him in a bear hug.”

Chappell claimed Botham was once asked by a Australian cricket journalist, who witnessed the event, why he was spreading a version of the story that wasn’t true, with the allrounder alleged to have replied: “because it makes me look a big man in England.” (PTI)

Email This Page