The memoirs of a cricket official are published 26 years after they were written. Some secrets can be revealed, but some tales can never see the light of day.
The memoirs of a cricket official are published 26 years after they were written. Some secrets can be revealed, but some tales can never see the light of day.

Explosive Gabba stories to stay secret

Kerry Packer was so powerful he once phone ordered a cricket game to be played at the Gabba in the same way you might order a pizza.

But Gabba officials did not mind because he paid them well and, given his reputation as a fierce negotiator, they were quietly proud of extracting some very useful dollars out of him.

All of this is revealed in Under The Covers, the memoirs of Mike Giles, Brisbane Cricket Ground secretary manager from 1977-93.

He wrote them in 1994 but they can never be fully published.

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He has sat on them for 26 years after a mate who was a lawyer read them and said "Don't publish these unless you want to spend the rest of your days in court.''

As the title suggests, Giles unveils some well-hidden secrets of the famous ground and there are indeed some unprintable hot spots including alleged ball tampering by a well-known visiting batsman who used to throw the ball to a keeper whose gloves were treated with resin.

True or not, that's a six-figure defamation payout just waiting to happen, so the decision to keep Under The Covers under wraps is well founded.

But back to Packer …

 

Ian Chappell playing for Australia in a World Series Cup match against England in 1979.
Ian Chappell playing for Australia in a World Series Cup match against England in 1979.

 

Giles tells the story of how, during a dreadfully short World Series match at the Gabba in 1979 when Australia made 54 and the World XI (2-55) won just after lunch, the two teams initially refused to take the field again for a semi-social game to entertain the 20,000 short-changed fans.

That was until mega-rich media mogul Packer phoned Giles' office and summoned Australian captain Ian Chappell and World XI skipper Tony Greig to the phone.

"I thought to myself 'This will be interesting,'' wrote Giles.

"Ian listened to the words of his 'master.' I could tell from both his demeanour and body language he wasn't all that happy, especially when the conversation - very one-sided - ended with Ian saying 'Oh well, if you say so'.

"The Australians were virtually ordered to play another game to entertain the crowd. Tony Greig was also summoned and the second conversation ended in quick time. The power of the dollar and the pull of the person with the money who was paying all World Series Cricket wages was never more evident than on that occasion."

But Packer did not get it all his own way. The trust negotiated a six-figure payment for his hire of the ground and also included a further $10,000 for a refigured broadcast area in what Giles called "a very one-sided negotiation".

Giles was not adverse to the occasional prank, such as putting a rubber snake in the hole where fielders kept their helmets and watching the West Indian Desmond Haynes screech in horror when he saw it.

 

 

 

Kerry Packer usually got what he wanted.
Kerry Packer usually got what he wanted.

 

 

Giles was an old-fashioned stickler for respect and common decency during his time at the Gabba and had little tolerance for lazy, untidy behaviour.

A touring Indian team learnt as much when they left a dressingroom covered in chicken bones, rice and general scraps.

"I gathered up the food debris from all about the room and distributed the scraps of skins and bones fairly and equally into each cricket bag, boot and sock," Giles wrote

"Next day the Indian players for some reason decided to take their gear back to the hotel with them. There was never any further problem with mess in their dressing- rooms again."

 

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Giles was also a friend of the late Test batsman and match referee Peter Burge, who famously fined English captain Mike Atherton 2000 pounds after he used dirt in his pocket to dry the ball during a Test against South Africa.

Giles had dinner with Burge after the incident and Burge poured his heart out about it, particularly the fact that leading umpire Dickie Bird could have been more proactive.

"Dickie acted in a manner that was surprising in such a highly regarded and respected umpire," Burge told Giles.

"He stated that under no circumstances was he either going to make a complaint re the ball or give evidence in the matter.

"He apparently had a reputation for shying away from controversy. In another incident in the same match when a streaker entered the playing arena Bird's reaction was to walk away from the incident to the Warner Stand.''

 

Originally published as Explosive Gabba stories to stay secret

Mike Giles, a former Brisbane Cricket Ground secretary manager from 1977-93.
Mike Giles, a former Brisbane Cricket Ground secretary manager from 1977-93.


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