The arrival of the English touring side in Australia for the Ashes series during the summer of 1932-3 was much anticipated by all Australian cricket fans. Unknown to the Australians at the time was the fact, English captain Douglas Jardine was about to write his team into the record and history books for all the wrong reasons. To counter the skill of the great Australian player Donald Bradman, who had devastated the English bowling attack during the 1930 series, Jardine adopted a tactic later to become known as Bodyline.
Bodyline involved the placing of a least five players close in to the batsman and the bowler continually bowling a barrage of short pitched balls aimed on leg stump, these balls would quickly rare up from the pitch placing the batsman in danger of serious injury. To counter these rising deliveries, the batsman would be forced to adopt defensive batting strokes, which would regularly result in catches to the close in fieldsmen.
Donald Bradman, being an exceptionally gifted and attacking batsman was affected by these close in fielders who interfered with his concentration. In the second test held in Melbourne, Bradman was dismissed by English bowler Bill Bowes without scoring. Many Australian players were subsequently injured as a result of the tactic of Bodyline. It was not only the Australian players who were aghast at the despicable tactics of the English, but also the Australian cricket authorities.
The Australian Cricket Board sent an urgent telegram to its counterpart in England demanding they instruct Jardine to discontinue his methods. For the sake of cricket and sportsmanship the Australians pleaded with the English to refrain. Discussions were even held in the Australian Parliament to find a way to stop the Englishmen from devastating and tarnishing the game of cricket.
High-level diplomatic meetings were held between the English and the Australians, eventually Jardine was ordered to refrain from his dangerous tactics. The Englishmen eventually went on to win back the Ashes from Australia, however the tactics of Bodyline had served their purpose. They had contained and restrained the great Donald Bradman.
The Laws of Cricket were eventually changed to ensure the debacle, which was the Bodyline series was never repeated. The spirit of the game had to be protected at all costs.
The tactic of Bodyline bowling, a name coined by the Australian press was referred to as Leg Theory by the English.
Bodyline - Itís Just Not Cricket - Out Now!
It almost caused a break in relations between Australia and England. On the 70th anniversary of the Bodyline series, this video looks at all aspects of the most underhand tactic ever used in cricket. It features a number of interviews with former players who tell us things never before made public. This is a sensational new documentary and not to be missed.
Origin of the Ashes - History in the Making
This is the most legendary of all cricket series. Played between Australia and England, this series has even caused bad diplomatic relations between the two countries. When Englandís Barmy Army come up against the Aussieís at the ďGĒ...itís almost war! Learn about the origins of The Ashes with this video produced by the ABC.