Beer fuelled Bodyline barrage in brutal strategy to best Bradman
BOOZE was the secret weapon behind England’s Bodyline assault against Don Bradman, a new book claims.
Next year is the 90th anniversary of the infamous Bodyline series, in which English captain Douglas Jardine unveiled a brutal game plan to stack the leg side and use bowlers Harold Larwood and Bill Voce to target the unprotected bodies of Australian batsmen.
“Booze was definitely the secret weapon, no doubt about it,’’ Roland Perry, a long-time confidant of Bradman and author of Bradman vs Bodyline (Allen and Unwin), told News Corp.
Larwood and Voce were renowned beer lovers and in a pattern set by previous English captain Arthur Carr, who once wrote “all fast bowlers need beer to keep them going’’, they were fuelled not simply after play but during it.
”When they brought the drinks out on trays there were times in the Bodyline Tests when everyone else would have orange juice and Larwood and Bill Voce would have beer,’’ Perry said.
“The Bodyline method was very dramatic with the captain clapping his hands and the players moving to their positions and the fuel was alcohol.
“They had to get Larwood fired up. He might have a beer at lunch as well and they certainly had some after play. Jardine was giving them drinks during the game, there is no doubt about it. Arthur Carr set them on the path to drinking and Jardine kept it going.’’
Bradman averaged an honourable 56 in the Bodyline series won 4-1 by England, a major reduction from his Test average of 99.94 but still well above most of his teammates.
Perry said Bradman devised a game plan to avoid being struck, which was essentially T20 batting with plenty of audacious footwork on both sides of the wicket.
“I spoke to him in 1999 about some of his shots and he said, ‘I had to hit up and unders (over slips)’, and when I said it was like one-day cricket he agreed. But it is more like T20 cricket.
“He pulled away and hit them through the off-side and he backed away and hit them over slips like Mark Waugh did (against Curtly Ambrose). He also ran to the off-side and hit him over leg.
“In two series before Bodyline Bradman slapped Larwood around. At times he humiliated Larwood, who said he did not want to face Bradman without a weapon and that weapon was Bodyline.’’