Angus Fraser: How Lillee's failed test of metal caused controversy at the WACA

One of the wackiest incidents in Test cricket's history involved the Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee using an aluminium bat in an Ashes Test at the WACA, Perth, in 1979. At the time the Laws did not stipulate what a bat had to be made of and Lillee walked out with the controversial piece of equipment manufactured by a company owned by a personal friend.

Lillee struck the fourth ball he faced, bowled by England's Ian Botham, for three. A horrible high-pitched noise made Mike Brearley, the England captain, aware of what was taking place and he complained immediately to the umpires, stating that the bat was damaging the ball. Australia's captain Greg Chappell also thought that the ball should have gone for a four, and instructed Rodney Hogg to deliver a conventional wooden bat to Lillee.

It took the officials and Chappell, the Australian captain, 10 minutes to convince Lillee to change his bat, which he reluctantly did by petulantly throwing it 40 yards in the direction of the pavilion.

He was not disciplined by the Australia Cricket Board. After the game, sales of the bat skyrocketed for a few months, before the laws of the game were amended, specifying that bats had to be made from wood.

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