Former Australia captain and renowned cricket commentator Ian Chappell turns 80 today (September 26). The Adelaide-born cricketer, who played for South Australia and Australia, took over the reins of the national team after Bill Lowry’s tenure and made the side one of the most fearless teams between 1971 to 1975. After his fruitful career as a player, Chappell embarked on a new journey with the microphone to narrate cricket matches in the most nonchalant way.
Born into a cricketing family, Chappell was handed the bat at the age of four by his father, an Adelaide grade cricketer. Notably, his maternal grandfather, Vic Richardson, was a former Australian cricketer. After representing his school team, Chappell made his first-class debut for South Australia (SA) against Tasmania in early 1962 at the age of 18.
His successful outing in 1963, where he excelled with a double hundred against Queensland, impressed the national team selectors. Earning his maiden Test call-up against Pakistan in 1964 in Melbourne, he shone with his fielding skills, taking four catches. In his debut Ashes series in 1968, Chappell scored the most runs by any Australian batter. He continued his rich form in the 1968–69 season and won the Australian Cricketer of the Year award.
Chappell played 75 Test matches for Australia and scored 5345 runs at an average of 42.42, including 14 centuries. From 16 ODI matches, Chappell has scored 673 runs at an average of 48.07 with eight fifties. Predominantly a right-handed batter, Chappell was also a handy leg spin bowler. He has taken 22 wickets (20 in Tests and 2 in ODIs) across both formats.
Chappell announces retirement as TV commentator after 45 years
Chappell announced his retirement from international cricket in 1980, but decided to remain a part of the beautiful game through sports broadcasting and writing. The legendary player made the cricket viewing experience even more beautiful with his commentary. However, he decided to draw the curtain on his second innings last year and is now enjoying his life in Australia.
Announcing his decision to end his 45-year commentary career, Chappell said: “I remember the day when I knew I’d had enough of playing cricket. I looked at the clock and it was five past 11 on a day of play and I thought, ‘s**t, if you’re clock-watching at that time, I have to go’. So when it comes to commentary, I’ve been thinking about it. I had a minor stroke a few years back and I got off lucky. But it just makes everything harder. And I just thought with all the travel and, you know, walking upstairs and things like that, it’s all just going to get harder.”