Former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell
Former Australian cricket captain Ian Chappell, 2016. (Image: AAP/Julian Smith)

Former test cricketer Bruce Francis has launched at extraordinary attack — in the form of rambling email — on former Australian captain Ian Chappell over the latter man’s view on climate change.

Titled “Propaganda or Proper Goose?” — which, look, pretty funny — the correspondence is a flourish of different fonts, formatting and sizes. It’s a style I like to call “I am NOT a crackpot“, and will be familiar to anyone who monitors a news publication’s public email address:

Earlier this week, Chappell — who’s gone from a grump to something of a woke grump in recent years — acknowledged that the effect extreme weather and natural disasters was having on beloved sporting events could push public opinion towards endorsing climate action.

He told the Today show: “When it does affect something like cricket which is a sport that brings all Australians together, I think when people realise that it is affecting something that they’re quite passionate about, I think that helps to make a difference.”

But of course, where discussion of climate change occurs, the culture war must follow.

Francis — who, on top of his three tests for Australia, has dedicated a lot of time to attempting to clear the names of the Essendon 34, and once organised an Australian team to travel to apartheid-era South Africa — took umbrage and sent Chappell (and a lot of other people) an email “debunking” Chappell’s argument point by point.

Francis opens with an andecdote about being upbraided by Chappell and the late Tony Greig in the early 1980s for making some comment or other about cricket, on account of his lack of experience.

“It’s a shame,” Francis continues, “the brutally honest Ian Chappell has morphed into a marshmallow liberal and no longer practises what he preaches.”

He starts as he means to go on — mocking Chappell’s reference to his wife’s “scientific background” with personal slights, anti-PC shrugs and targeted gotchas delivered with a barely decipherable soup of blokey sports-based aphorism:

“a scientific background” – In your language, what the ,does that mean? [sic] … I know it’s politically incorrect, but relying on your wife’s opinion tells us that she wears the pants in his household and he now plays off the red tees.

Francis has every shot in the denialism textbook: Australia’s too small to make a difference, facts don’t care about your feelings, we’re more worried about jobs and affordable energy than what might happen in 40 years.

“By that time, the Chinese Premier, Legs XI, will probably have banned Test cricket”, Francis adds, helpfully.

We asked Chappell for his response, thinking the famous grump — who once had to be prised away from a car-park punch-up with England legend/long-time sparring partner Ian Botham — would have plenty to say in retaliation. He did not respond.

Along with Crikey, Francis CC’d Alan Jones, Rita Panahi, Fran Kelly, Greg Baum, Gideon Haigh and Waleed Aly (along with a host of other journos, MPs and cricketing legends).

With this in mind, Chappell is probably fielding quite a few emails this morning.

In response to Crikey‘s request for comment, Francis said: “My comments about Ian are applicable to most journalists and politicians who wax lyrical about global warming.”

“They make Doomsday predictions, all of which have proved incorrect. Please identify one fact offered by Ian. So called celebrities are never required to substantiate their positions.”