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Sir Donald was sufficiently concerned to make enquir ies in se veral ar eas. As a result, he was left in no doubt; if the Australian cricket authorities challenged either the Journalists’Association or the pla yers, Chappell and Mallett, the Board would certainly lose the case because they were restraining the trade ofthe two cric keters: a significant phrase, given what was to happen in the High Court in 1977.
The biggest change in Australian cricket came with the staging ofmat ches under lights. The second summer of World Series Cricket,in 1978–79,coincided with a traditional Ashes series, when Australia and England pla yed six Tests, England winning the ser ies 5–1.On November 28, 1978,just befor e the First Test, WSC Australia pla yed a limited-o vers mat ch against WSC West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground, the first night-time cricket in this great arena. There were traffic jams approaching Moore Park and, by the dinner-break,more than 25,000 people were already in the ground. Kerry Packer then ordered the gates be thrown open. It was estimated by the ground authorities that more than 52,000 people watched the match, pla yed in one of the more extraordinary and exciting atmospheres I have ever known.
New players were being signed by World Series Cricket for year three, and there was no doubt about the suc cess of the org anisation in the sec ond season,aft er a slow start 12 months earlier.The new players meant that,in 1979–80,WSC’s competition would ha ve teams from Australia, West Indies, Pakistan and a World XI made up of Indian,Eng lish and South African cricketers.
Two things stand out. Packer started WSC on 6 April 1977 in his office in Sydney and he ended it on 13 February 1979,when he flew to Adelaide and had morning tea in Sir Donald Bradman’s Holden Street home. During an hour-long meeting , he set out an impressi ve list of WSC’s plans for the futur e. He outlined the new players signed,the new tours to take place and confirmed burgeoning figures for day/night games and television ratings. His suggestion was that it was time for a settlement.
At the next Australian Board of Control meeting ,Don is reported to have looked at all those present and said that before the meeting was concluded an agreement between the two par ties would be on the table. And it all happened because of the tea and scones at Holden Street. It concluded the greatest revolution the game of crick et has known and completely changed for the better the manner in which television covered all sports,not just cricket,for billions ofpeople around the world. It also ensured that cricketers would in future receive proper financial reward for their skills.
Kerry Packer passed away on Boxing Day 2005,and one ofthe many obituaries on his life appears in this antholog y. He was a remarkable man who changed for ever the manner in which crick et would be programmed,and at what time ofthe day, or night,it would take place.
All rights reserved. You may not copy, distribute, transmit, reproduce or otherwise make available this content in any form or by any means. Preface
When the publishers of Wisden asked me to anthologise the almanacks since the Centenary Test of 1977 –terrain barely covered by previous anthologies–the prospect appealed on several scores.First,it is ne ver a chore to read Wisden –how quickly one is dr awn into the great games of the past.Second, by the early 1970s cricket was for me already an obsession.I remember as a fourth-former being chastised in a geog raphy lesson for listening to a Test in the great Ashes series of 1972 on the radio.These are my heroes, my history. As I made my choices I remembered where I was dur ing each of those games,thoug h I will for the most part spare you the personal details, even for the semi-final of the 1979 World Cup between West Indies and Pakistan at The Oval –the greatest assembly ofcricketers I ha ve ever seen in the flesh,and a mat ch for which I got a ticket from a tout at less than face value.T ruly,a joyous, unforgettable, buoyantly multicultural experience. The third reason was the publisher’s brief: to make this not just a compendium of facts and figures, a jumble of memories, but a coherent picture of a sport that has been transformed in the past 30 years. Lik e the game itself,the book must be fun but fun with a purpose.
My first suggestion was that the book begin with the Kerry Packer “circus”, as its many critics at the time called it. World Series Cricket,to use its official title, was the alternative circuit with which Packer,the late Australian television mogul, successfully challenged the established order .He turned the cr icket world upside down,and much ofwhat followed in the decades after its inception in 1977 flowed from Packer.The quaint days of chaps with three initials running the game were numbered. Money, commerce,helmets, coloured clothing ,TV calling the shots, the dominance of international over domestic cricket –a new world was dawning, and Wisden often hated what it was seeing .
As I began to make selec tions, my initial belief that moder n cr icket more or less began with Packer in 1977 appeared naive.Indeed, as I discuss in my introduction to the section on what I ha ve termed “The Packer Experiment”, there is a good argument to be made that it was the revolution already under way in cricket that had entic ed the big man and his even bigger bucks.The safest conclusion to draw is that Packer crystallised and accelerated many ofthe changes:they happened in three years, rather than the ten or 20 they might have taken without his intervention.
Thirty years on, for better and sometimes for worse, the game has changed radically:the top pla yers now form a highly paid elite who rarely venture int o first-class crick et beyond the international arena; television calls the tune; the
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