Greg Chappell, the former Australian cricket captain who infamously instigated the underarm bowling incident in the 1981 NZ-Australia ODI, has written an open letter of advice to Tim Paine, the current captain of the Australian team.
Paine has come under fire for his behaviour in the recent Australia-India test matches. He personally insulted Indian spin bowler Ravi Ashwin and swore at umpire Paul Wilson. Last week, Paine apologised for his behaviour.
In his letter, published in the Sydney Morning Herald, Chappell notes "as the 40th anniversary of the underarm incident at the MCG looms, I have considerable sympathy for your recent travails, post the Sydney Test".
He says he is grateful social media was not around 40 years ago, as the Australian public, then and now, has "high standards of its players – particularly, the captain". The underarm bowl was a mistake, he writes, and says he was "not prepared for the ferocity of the backlash, following my spur-of-the moment brain fade".
"My first indication was when a young girl, who had jumped the fence with thousands of other youngsters to rush out to the middle at the end of the game, came up beside me and tugged on my sleeve as I jogged towards the players gate. I looked down at her and she said, 'You cheated'. I knew then that this was going to be big."
Chappell reflects how, nearly four decades later, people on either side of the ditch still have strong feelings about the incident, and concludes "what I failed to do on that day was to maintain my equilibrium and equanimity in the face of changing and challenging circumstances. Had I been able to take a step back from the issues swirling around me at the time, I might have made a different decision.
"What I didn't appreciate then, was that my decision set off a chain reaction that still pokes its head to this day. It affected my brother, my teammates, opponents in that match, the rest of my family, the game and possibly the standing of our country in the eyes of the rest of the cricketing world."
"It is always an honour to represent the country," Chappell's letter in the Sydney Morning Herald continues, and "it is a huge privilege to be invited to be the captain". That brings a great deal of responsibility, too, since "sport, especially cricket, has been an integral part of the fabric of our community for 143 years".
"The captain is expected to uphold the highest standards, through his actions and restraint even under extreme pressure. I failed to do this 40 years ago and I urge you to bear this in mind for the future," he writes.
Cricket grounds are "sacred" places, Chappell says, and when the team behaves in a lowly fashion it can be reflected in boorish behaviour of the spectators. However, "if the players show their best side, it is more likely that the spectators will follow suit".
"The best teams that I played with and against did not use their mouths as weapons. They showed by their actions that they were there to play and would apply pressure by doing the basics of the game better, for longer, than their opponent. In fact, the teams that chatted the most, were usually the ones most prone to collapse under concerted pressure.
"Abuse is not acceptable in any workplace and talk, in my opinion, is cheap. It does not show one's strength. Rather, it displays a weakness of character. I urge you to impress on the team to let the bat and ball do the talking and set better examples to millions of impressionable little boys and girls, lest they start imitating the worst instincts and actions of their sporting heroes.
"This will be the greatest legacy that you can leave."