Introduction to Bodyline
aim of this site is to make sure that one of the most
famous cricket test series if not the most famous is
not forgotten. If you would like to learn more about
the series or would like to join the e-mail list, then
please drop me a line at
has raised many questions over the last 70 years since
it first appeared in Australia during the 1932 - 33
series against the touring MCC under her Captain; Douglas
Jardine. Few Australians knew what to expect of the
opposition when they took to the field in the First
Test in Sydney, and the length prepared to go to silence
Don Bradman, but they were to be left in no doubt what
was in store as soon as the battle commenced.
have been many views on Bodyline, and a number of books
available to read on its history by players involved
in the series like Jardine, Bradman and Larwood. Unfortunately
as the years have passed, fewer books are now readily
available making it harder for people to learn what
truly happened in the 'dark days' of cricket! It is
for this reason (and a few personal ones of my own)
that I decided a little while ago to put together the
most complete history on Bodyline, and today as I re
write this introduction, I have had the pleasure in
meeting family members of the players involved in this
historic occasion and other dignitaries I would never
have met if it were not for my site. For this reason,
this site will always hold something special to me.
Bodyline series was and still is a big part of Australian
life, taking place during a savage depression when money
for Test tickets was incredibly hard to come by. There
were 'suggestions' from the MCC (before the tour was
finalised) that the tour should be cut back to 3 Test
matches after 2 profit loosing home Test series against
the West Indies (their first to Australia) and South
Africa. As we all know, the complete Test series was
played, but this wasn't the last time we would hear
of a shorter series offered by Lord's!
Bradman bowled by Bill Bowes for a duck in his first
Test innings at Melbourne (2nd Test)
Australian Government of the time knew that if the Test
series were shortened it would mean a great loss in
revenue and publicity, both required by a starving nation.
great Australian bowler and teammate of Bradman's Bill
O'Reilly said of Bodyline
"What we saw in Australia
in 1932-33 was something quite different, and really
you could only say that the intention was to scare the
daylights out of the batsman, and to put him off his
natural game. There was no doubt in our minds that when
they put those five men close in on the leg side they
were trying to hit the batsman. Douglas Jardine knew
what had happened at the Oval in that last Test in 1930,
and he knew that Bradman was the difference between
the two teams".
England had a number of fast bowlers in their squad,
Harold Larwood is the name synonymous with the actual
execution of Bodyline. He was at the peak of his career
and a quick bowler who enjoyed the hard fast pitches
of Australia. He made life hell for the Australian batsman
during the series and took a bag full of wickets. However
contrary to popular belief he only struck two of the
Australian batsmen during the series, such was the myth
of the man and became hated by the Australian public.
Jardine too became unpopular with the Australian public
and record crowds attended the Test matches to see how
the Australian's handled the bowling. Tension also developed
between the two teams.
Test at Adelaide was described
in Wisden as the most unpleasant
ever played. During the first Australian innings Captain
struck a powerful blow above the heart by Larwood. The
very next ball Jardine moved his fieldsman into the
Bodyline positions. The crowd was incensed. Later that
day Woodfull uttered his famous words:-
"There are two sides out
there. One is trying to play cricket, the other is not.
The game is too good to be spoilt. It is time some people
got out of it".
On the third day Australian batsman Oldfield was struck
in the head and sustained a fractured skull. Once again
the crowds went crazy and Jardine and Larwood were their
main targets. Later that day the Australian Board of Cricket
sent a telegram to England protesting about the use of
The telegram read:
assuming such proportions as to menace the best
interests of the game, making protection of
the body by the batsmen the main consideration.
This is causing intensely bitter feeling between
the players as well as injury. In our opinion
it is unsportsmanlike. Unless stopped at once
it is likely to upset the friendly relations
between England and Australia.
Complete Illustrated History of Australian Cricket
that "Parliamentarians and diplomats in Canberra
and Whitehall joined in the controversy as the Test
was played out. There were brawls in Australian
hotels between supporters and critics of Bodyline,
and while Fleet Street newspapers labelled Australians
as squealers, Australian newspapers suggested somebody
would be killed if Bodyline was not quickly outlawed".
prompted high level diplomatic meetings between Australia
and England and it appeared that relations between the
two countries would become strained. Eventually diplomacy
prevailed. England went on to win back The Ashes meaning
that Bodyline had served it's purpose. Bradman had the
highest Australian batting average for the series of
56.57 but compare this to his Sheffield Shield average
for the same period of 150 and it is apparent that Bodyline
had a marked effect.
Bodyline was outlawed and there are still rules in force
today to prevent its return.