Hampden Love's stump
There are two teams out there; one is trying to play cricket and the other is not.
Bill Woodfull, Australian captain, 1933
During the 1933 Ashes series, at the fourth Test in Brisbane, Hampden Love replaced the usual Australian wicketkeeper, Bert Oldfield, who had been injured in the previous match. At the end of the test, won by England to claim the Ashes, Love souvenired this stump and collected on it the signatures of some of the Australian and English players.
Right: Love's wooden stump with brass cap from the 1933 Ashes test in Brisbane. Photo: George Serras.
The 1932/33 Ashes became one of the most controversial series in the history of Australian — English Test cricket. The English team, desperate to contain Australian batsman Don Bradman, adopted a strategy of bowling fast and short at the batsman's body rather than at the stumps. The technique became known as 'bodyline'.
England won the first Test of the series and Australia levelled the score in the second. Then during the third Test in Adelaide, the English captain Douglas Jardine turned to bodyline tactics. One delivery struck Australian captain Bill Woodfull above the heart. Another left Australian wicketkeeper Bert Oldfield with a fractured skull. Tempers flared on the field and in the stands, and the two cricket boards exchanged hostile telegrams about unsportsmanlike conduct. For a while it seemed that cricket would strain diplomatic relations between Australia and England.
Right: Melbourne Herald cartoonist Samuel Wells responded to the bodyline controversy with this sketch, entitled The Fighting Kangaroos! Australia's 1st Test Team. Courtesy: National Library of Australia, nla.pic-an20978933.
Third Test at Adelaide, 1933
Take a look at the Third Test at Adelaide, 1933 (MP4 6.5mb) duration 2:45
Courtesy: Fox Movietone (Australia).
Transcript: Third Test at Adelaide, 1933
NARRATOR: The 5th of January, 1933, in the third Test match between England and Australia, the record crowd of 50,962 cricket fans yelled 'blue murder'.
The bodyline balloon exploded.
MCC skipper Douglas Jardine brought his three big guns Larwood, Allen and Boast to bear on the Australian batsmen. They dropped them short on the leg stump.
Larwood hurtling the ball down at 90 miles an hour. Stan McCabe tried to knock the leg slip field back, but failed. The great Don Bradman sought a counter but was bowled around his legs.
It was hit or get hit, and Australia's captain Billy Woodful got hit. Bert Oldfield was battered from shoulder to toe for nearly two hours. Another bumper from Larwood and the ball crashed into Oldfield's temple. A fuming Woodful helped him from the field, the scoreboard showing Oldfield 'retired hurt 41'.
What Woodful said to English manager Plum Warner in the dressing room that evening has never been revealed, but Jardine stood firm. England won this and the next Test to regain the Ashes lost at the Oval in 1930.
Perhaps the unparalleled situation, the deadly enmity which had developed, is best described by the cable sent to the MCC in London by the Australian Board of Control. It read:
Bodyline bowling assumed such proportions as to menace the best interests of the game, making protection of the body by batsmen the main consideration and causing intensely bitter feelings between players, as well as injury.
In our opinion it is unsportsmanlike, and unless stopped at once is likely to upset friendly relations existing between Australia and England.
Bodyline, probably the greatest controversy in Australian sporting history. World headlines in 1933. A year to remember.Australia vs England Third Test 1933 scorecard (PDF 3491kb)
That Bodyline Argument, 1934
Take a look at That Bodyline Argument, 1933 (MP4 7.8mb) duration: 3:13
Courtesy: British Pathe/ITN Source.
Transcript: That Bodyline Argument, 1934
NARRATOR: Contrary to popular belief, bodyline bowling was not invented to paralyse the batsman. Quite legitimately it aims at confusing the batsman into giving a catch. Our cartoonist will now show what makes the ball act so disastrously.
A white stripe enables you to see the rotation or 'spin' of the ball. This paradox, why a ball should stay longer in the air or rise when spinning towards the batsman, was solved by Mr Gilbert, a Cambridge mathematician and a friend of Ranji.
In bodyline bowling the reverse is the case. The ball is getting dragged and it spins away from the batsman. On pitching, friction with the earth tends to cause a rapid change in the direction of the spin. This sudden change of spin causes the ball to jerk or bounce unnaturally high.
This is not all: the true bodyline artist imparts to the ball an off-curl spin as well as a drag spin. So we get drag combined with off-curl. The unkindest cut of all, the ball is pitched well to the left and the unsuspecting batsman follows it.
And that's how bodyline bowling was born.