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Remembering the Bodyline series

No one has come close to Sir Don Bradman, and no one ever will. (AP Photo, File).
Roar Pro
15th May, 2016
5

Remember the famous or rather infamous Bodyline series of 1932-33? The greatest English bowler of the day, Harold Larwood, bowled at a blistering estimated speed of over 90 miles per hour and totally decimated his Australian opponents.

But more importantly, he was accused of bowling bouncers on the leg side, targeting the body of the batsman. A new cricketing term was coined – Bodyline.

Larwood created havoc in the Australian camp when he managed to break the skull one of their batsmen and injured several others. He was blamed for his unsportsmanlike conduct, but had no regret, ascribing his action to following the orders of his wily skipper Douglas Jardine, the mastermind of Bodyline.

Needless to say, England won the series. But more importantly, it managed to put a spanner in the works of the Don Bradman juggernaut. The famous Australian, who until then scored runs at an average of over 100, could manage only an average of around 56 in that series, quite unlike him.

This controversial strategy adopted by the English captain Jardine was very unpopular, though well within the rules of the game. It was probably the first blotch on the gentleman’s game, which until that point was as lily-white as the flannels worn by the cricketers.

Ironically it was England, the team who initiated Bodyline bowling to curb Bradman, who introduced the rule to restrict the number of bouncers per over after being battered by the battery of West Indian and Australian fast bowlers.

Larwood didn’t live very long. Jardine lived little longer. He came to India, did some tiger hunting and posed in pictures taken before a fallen tiger, as was the fad of the time. He died soon after. Bradman lived the longest and missed the 100 batting average by a whisker – which he could have easily achieved but for the Bodyline series.