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The Bodyline Hypocrisy: Conversations with Harold Larwood Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Length: 256 pages

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Review

Most cricket books this winter will be the inevitably bland ones of "How we won the Ashes" and the sometimes turgid and self-justifying recollections of recently retired players. But if you want a good read, go for this one. The author is manifestly anti-Australian, it has to be said, and this book is a revisionist attempt to show that "bodyline" was not as bad as has been made out. He talked to Harold Larwood, but the central character is of course Douglas Jardine who was always proud of his Scottish ancestry, had his ashes (oh, that word again!) scattered at Loch Rannoch (there is a picture of the loch in the book) and in 1956 charmed all of Kirkcaldy when he appeared at the centenary dinner of Dunnikier C.C. and dispelled the myth of "snobbery" and "aloofness". One's Scottish psyche is struck by the revelations that Bradman was a Freemason and that O'Reilly, Fingleton and Grimmett were discriminated against because of their Roman Catholic religion (does that strike any cords in the west of Glasgow?) and worse still that, Eddie Gilbert might well have been the Australian counterblast to Larwood - if he hadn't been an aborigine! Gubby Allen's moral high ground in the Bodyline controversy takes a knock when we are told that he did co-operate to the extent of becoming a brilliant short leg fielder to Larwood and others. And any sympathy we might have had of Gubby evaporates when we read that in a letter home to his mother, he describes Larwood and Voce as "swollen headed gutless uneducated miners" - an appalling piece of class prejudice! Neither England nor Australia in the 1930s come out of this book very well with such revelations of religious and class divisions, and those who think that Australians are beer-swilling gamblers with a pathological hatred of Great Britain are given loads of material for their argument. And the hypocrisy of the craven authorities in both England and Australia! Makes me glad I'm Scottish! An excellent read! It will make you think this winter, as you wait for next season. --The Scottish Cricketer

An intriguing read --Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians

About the Author

Michael Arnold is a well-known English cricket writer, who now lives in Australia. Uniquely qualified to see the Bodyline series in its historical context, he also writes for Australian newspapers and broadcasts on radio.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1572 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pitch Publishing (Brighton) Ltd (15 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00CG69052
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #307,461 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book which needed to be written after all the hand wringing and self flagellation of writers such as dreadful Le Quesne and others. Bodyline was an over-reaction by the Australian media at a time when they thought their ageing team with its new superstar Bradman was invincible. Out-thought by the great Jardine, out-played by Larwood, Paynter, Hammond and others they resorted to whingeing and Arnold (and others) argue they're still at it now. There is little new from the "interviews" with Larwood himself and the writing itself is indifferent. But where Arnold is interesting is in the discussion of the economic position of Australia, the possible influence of organized crime in gambling on the Tests in a country addicted to it even then and the incompetence of the Australian Board who simply made fools of themselves. Arnold lives in Australia. Not everyone, especially in his and Larwood's adopted country will agree with him, but he is worth reading alongside Jardine himself (indispensable), Frith (for a very different view), and Charles Williams' biography of Bradman
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Format: Paperback
Over many years of reading cricket books, I must be well into double figures on those relating to the infamous 'Bodyline' tour of Australia by England in 1932-33.

A recurring theme of such books is the vilification of England captain Douglas Jardine and his weapon of choice Harold Larwood, the latter aided and abetted by his Nottinghamshire team mate Bill Voce. The two of them became anti-heroes, abused by the supporters at games for their use of intimidatory tactics in order to beat Australia on their own turf. Focal point of the attack was Australian wunderkind Donald Bradman, whose total dominance over England in previous series led to the use of a new style of attack.

Yet, as this excellent book points out, it was nowhere near as concentrated as the frenzied Australian media of the time made it appear. Far more wickets were taken with orthodox bowling than the new form of attack, which was generally only used when the shine had gone from the ball and a batsman was set. Indeed, the two most notorious episodes of the series, when first Australian skipper Bill Woodfull was hit over the heart and then wicket-keeper Bill Oldfield on the head, were caused by ordinary balls that either lifted on an erratic surface or were ducked into. Michael Arnold's analysis suggests that a maximum of eleven wickets fell to a leg theory or bodyline delivery, the reality being that there were far fewer than that.

Unlike any other book on the subject, this one looks at the series in the light of the various social, international and cultural pressures of the time. Thus we see how the Australian media whipped supporters into anger at a time when they struggled to interpret their national heroes being second best.
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Format: Paperback
This book is an absolute must for for anyone interested in the infamous 1932/3 "bodyline" test series. If you haven't read this you still do not know the half of it. This is the most incisive, clear review of all the evidence of the time added to knowledge gained from intimate conversations with one of the men at the centre of the so-called controversy, ex England fast bowler Harold Larwood. If like me, you are fascinated by this series, this is probably the most important book on the subject.
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I first remember cricket in the summer of 1961. England had batsmen like Kenny Barrington, Ramon Subba Row, Ted Dexter and Peter May. The bowling attack was largely the pace of Freddie Trueman and Brian Statham who launched themselves at the likes of Australia's Bill Lawry and Richie Benaud. The Aussies edged the series 2-1 and retained The Ashes.
And it all seemed very sporting and gentlemanly.
Of course at that point I had never heard of the Bodyline series which had occurred many years before so I really did not know much about it for quite a long time. It came as something of a very great surprise when I eventually heard what had happened in 1932-33. Not something to be talked about it seemed.
I never saw Harold Larwood bowl but I did see Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson. And as I followed the devastation they wreaked on the England batsmen in 1974 with the Aussie crowd baying for blood, I found it difficult to understand why they had been so irate at the tactics employed by Douglas Jardine all those years before.
For all the controversy over Bodyline, the simple fact is that had Larwood been Australian he would have been a national hero.It was a great shame (in more than one sense of the word) that Larwood was vilified for his part in the affair. He was undoubtedly one of the fastest and most effective bowlers the Ashes series has ever produced.If he had played today he would have packed grounds and had the media hanging on his every word. Happily, before he shuffled off his mortal coil, he achieved some belated recognition for his efforts.
Mr Arnold's book is a very good analysis of the factors which combined to create the Bodyline controversy.
Larwood bowling to Bradman.
Now that really would have been something to see.
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