From the Archives, 1963: No-ball controversy ends Meckiff’s Test career

First published in The Age on December 9, 1963

Benaud: “I’ll Not Bowl Meckiff Now”

Ian Meckiff will not bowl again in the first Test in Brisbane.

“Over the years I have accepted the umpire’s decision,” Australian captain Richie Benaud said yesterday.

A “Magic Eye” sequence shows the action of Australian fast bowler Ian Meckiff in action.Credit:The Age Archives

“This is one I must stand by, I will not bowl Meckiff again.”

South Australian Test umpire Colin Egar wrote the obituary of Meckiff the Test cricketer when he branded the Victorian speed bowler a chucker on the Brisbane Cricket Ground a drew minutes after 2 p.m. on Saturday.

Meckiff, bowling his first over against the South Africans in the match, was called for throwing four times.

Shock Wave

The calls touched off one of the most sensational days in the history of cricket – and sent a shock wave through the cricketing world.

Umpire Egar’s action dumbfounded and stunned every Australian player, “The Age” cricket writer Percy Beames reported from Brisbane.

Even the usually imperturbable Benaud was left aghast and shocked by the boldness and severity of umpire Egar’s action.

Ian Meckiff delivers a good ball during the over in which he was no balled four times.Credit:MacKinnon

An angry and bitter crowd took up Meckiff’s cause and he was made a martyred hero for the rest of the day.

Play Stops

Half-an-hour before stumps, play was suspended for two minute while the crowd chanted we want Meckiff, we want Meckiff.

At the finish of play the crowd swept on to the field, raced across the ground, grabbed Meckiff and carried him shoulder high towards the players’ dressing rooms.

On releasing Meckiff the crowd formed two lanes and booed umpire Egar from the ground.

Umpire Egar smiled – seemingly apologetically.

Thirty-five year old Colin Egar has stood in five previous first-class matches – two Tests and three Shield games – in which Meckiff has bowled.

119.1 Overs

In these games he watched Meckiff bowl 119.1 overs without once calling him for throwing.

Umpire Egar watched Meckiff bowl in the first and third Tests against the West Indies in 1960-61 and in Shield games between South Australia and Victoria in Adelaide in November, 1960 (his first look at Meckiff), in February 1962 and January 1963.

He has never stated publicly his views on Meckiff’s action.

Career Over

Percy Beames says Meckiff’s career in cricket has ended.

“The lead has been set by Australia’s top umpire and his opinion should be sufficient for others to follow,” he says.

“I suppose no umpire has ever had to perform a more unacceptable task that Egar did on Saturday and I for one commend him for an action that was fearless and tremendously brave.

“The men who put the umpires out on a limb were the three selectors, Sir Donald Bradman, Jack Ryder and Dudley Seddon.

“Bringing Meckiff back was nothing more than offering him on the cricket altar as a sacrificial goat.

“The only way to wipe out the folly of their selection stain is to hand in their resignations.”

Hasset’s View

Former Test captain Lindsay Hassett believes the incident should not have been allowed to occur.

“Before Meckiff appeared in a Test match a sensible liaison between the board of control, the selectors and the umpires’ panel would have prevented the incident,” he writes.

Hassett also accusers Richie Benaud of “taking the easy way out” and being too humble in his acceptance of the situation.

He says Meckiff should have been given at least another one over under instructions to slow down to medium pace.

“Then if his action was passed, he may have had the chance to warm up to speed where he could have taken part in the game,” Hassett writes.

U.K. Comments

London newspapers gave the incident front page treatment, with pictures and big headlines.

Ted Dexter in the “Observer”: “One might think that one courageous Australian umpire has brought the Meckiff controversy to a timely end.

“Much as I like Meckiff personally, I feel this is the end of the road for him in big cricket.”

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