On a day when the eyes of the world concentrated one one of cricket's most notorious acts, another travesty has all but slipped through history's cracks.

February 1 will always be remembered as the anniversary of the infamous under-arm bowl, where Australian captain Greg Chappell instructed younger brother Trevor to roll the last ball of a thrilling one-dayer along the Melbourne Cricket Ground deck to prevent an unlikely winning six.

But early that day, the older Chappell had also been the benefactor of some dubious umpiring that saw him survive a perfectly legitimate catch by New Zealand fielder Martin Snedden.

"That is one of the best catches I ever seen in my life," gushed former Aussie captain Richie Benaud in his Fox Sports TV commentary. "There is no question in my mind that that was a great catch - clearly caught above the ground, a superb catch."


The match officials didn't see it the same way and Chappell obviously wasn't in a charitable mood that day.

Trevor Chappell's notorious under-arm bowl to Brian McKechnie. Photo/Photosport
Trevor Chappell's notorious under-arm bowl to Brian McKechnie. Photo/Photosport

Snedden, who has since gone on to become one of New Zealand's outstanding sport administrators, recounted the occasion to Radio Sport's Martin Devlin.

"That summer, there was a Toyota car up for the best catch," he rued. "But because it wasn't a catch, according to two Australia umpires, we didn't win a car.

"At that time of my life, I was student in Dunedin and may not have been that keen to give up a car.

"[The umpires] said to [NZ captain] Geoff Howarth they were watching the batsmen running between wickets and tapping down to make sure they made their ground at each end."

Snedden, then 22 and very much a rookie in the national team, chuckles as he remembers confronting one of the game's legends mid-pitch.

"So I walk into the middle, and go up to Greg Chappell and say 'Greg, I caught the ball' ... one of the great cricketers of all time.

Black Caps and Aussies re-enact The Underarm

"He didn't take too much notice. It wasn't his job, it was the umpire's job.

"Funny thing was, when Chappell got out for 90, Bruce Edgar took a very, very similar catch out on the deep mid-wicket boundary and Chappell just walked off."

Of course, this piece of drama would soon be overshadowed by the match climax, which Snedden credits for putting cricket in the New Zealand public eye for the first time.

"Cricket went from being a middle-of-the-road sport to absolutely taking off," he recalled. "The under-arm match was at the end of a very long tour of Australia, it was the first time we'd ever played in coloured uniforms with white ball under lights - all the razzmatazz.

"It really caught the imagination of the New Zealand public, because I think it was also the first time matches were being televised back into New Zealand."

Snedden, nowadays a New Zealand Cricket board member, also recalls the atmosphere at Eden Park, when the two sides met again the following summer.

"[Eden Park] was absolutely and utterly sold out," he told Devlin. "They had no idea what the capacity was for cricket, so they just kept selling tickets, because people were buying them.

"It was a really hot day and, as the match goes on, people are climbing over the fences and sitting inside the boundary ropes. Gradually, the boundaries, which were already small at Eden Park, were getting smaller and smaller.

"Greg Chappell comes out to bat, the crowd boos the hell out of him and some fella jumps off the terraces with a bowling ball and bowls it along the ground ... funny as.

"Anyway, Greg is archvillain #1, but three hours later, he walks off with 100 and the people give him a standing ovation. It was magnificent."

Snedden insists there was no bad blood between the two teams after the under-arm incident and describes Greg Chappell, in particular, as "a bloody good guy".

Still, he has found his part in that whole affair a very useful joker card in his various roles over the years.

"It's one of the greatest things to have in your back pocket when you're dealing with Australians," said the 2011 Rugby World Cup and former NZ Cricket chief executive.

"They have no answer to it."