Bodyline Series 1932-33

In the summer of 1932-1933, a determined English touring side arrived to contest the Ashes Series against an in-form Australian team. These were the days of the legendary Sir Donald Bradman who was then at the peak of his career, averaging above 120 runs an innings. In an attempt to contain his devastating batting, the English introduced 'bodyline' bowling, delivering a style of attack for the Australian batsmen that changed the nature of cricket.

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Bodyline was an aggressive fast bowling style targeting the batsman's body rather than the wicket. Batsmen of the day wore little protection by modern standards. With a packed leg-side field waiting for a catch, there was little even the great Bradman could do but move out of the way as fast as possible.

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While the bodyline tactic succeeded in curtailing Australia's run rate, it caused much controversy. During the 3rd test at Adelaide Australian captain, Bill Woodfull, was struck down by a ball to the chest and the team wicketkeeper, Bert Oldfield, suffered a fractured skull.

The new tactic even split the English side. The fast bowler George 'Gubby' Allen refused to bowl bodyline despite the urgings of his captain, Douglas Jardine. 'Gubby' Allen described Jardine as 'a perfect swine' in a letter to his parents, Sir Walter and Lady Allen.

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Allen's letters contrast sharply with reporting of the matches in England. A series of cables were transmitted to Radio Paris from a journalist in Australia, each day, giving a brief description of the day's play. This text of the cable was then broadcast across the Channel to English audiences. The typed transcripts of these broadcasts show that the cables were often censored to erase critical references to the new bodyline bowling tactic

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Made possible through a partnership with Sir Ron Brierley