Body­line af­fair puts An­gloAus­tralian re­la­tions to the test

Ag­gres­sive English tac­tics are just not cricket

BBC History Magazine - - Anniversaries -

A14 Jan­uary 1933 s Aus­tralia’s cricketers took the field for the sec­ond day of the Third Test at the Ade­laide Oval on 14 Jan­uary 1933, a record crowd of more than 50,000 spec­ta­tors were watch­ing from the stands. They could hardly have known that they were about to wit­ness per­haps the most con­tro­ver­sial day, not just in cricket his­tory, but in the in­ter­twined his­tory of Bri­tain and Aus­tralia. Even to­day, the scars of the body­line af­fair have never re­ally healed.

The key fig­ures in what fol­lowed were Eng­land’s cap­tain Dou­glas Jar­dine, the pic­ture of pa­tri­cian su­pe­ri­or­ity, and fast bowler Harold Lar­wood, a miner’s son from Not­ting­hamshire. Jar­dine told his bowlers to pitch their balls to land short in front of the leg stump of the wicket (where a bats­man would stand). Bowl­ing fast, high-bounc­ing de­liv­er­ies meant the ball would then bounce up to hit the bats­man’s body. Jar­dine called it ‘fast leg the­ory’. The Aus­tralian press dubbed it ‘ body­line’.

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