Bodyline Series / News

A tour diary

Bodyline timeline - February 1933

Martin Williamson

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July-October 1932 | November 1932 | December 1932 | January 1933 | February 1933 | March - May 1933

February 1 MCC enjoy some carefree batting, racing to 376 in 261 minutes with Les Ames and Wally Hammond to the fore. Harold Larwood, bowling at three-quarter pace, takes two wickets before the close.
Queensland Country XII 18 for 2 trail MCC 376 (Ames 121, Hammond 101) by 358 runs Scorecard

Australia make four changes to their squad. Hammy Love comes in as wicketkeeper for the injured Oldfield, a surprising choice and almost a long-service reward. It is to be his last first-class match. Len Darling replaces Fingleton and Ernie Bromley, a 22-year-old left-hand batsman from Queensland, is also named. Grimmett makes way for Tobbin, a fast-bowling allrounder and a surprising choice given his moderate form.

February 2 Larwood continues where he left off, grabbing three early wickets to reduce the home side to 29 for 5 before he was rested. Brittle and Ralph Raymond add 108 for the eighth wicket before Larwood returns to mop up the tail. MCC indulge in some batting practice, Jardine reaching 77 not out in 96 minutes by the close.
MCC 376 and 187 for 3 (Jardine 77*) drew with Queensland Country XII 210 (Brittle 65, Raymond 63, Larwood 8-28) Scorecard

News emerges from Brisbane that Archie Jackson, the brilliantly talented 23-year-old batsman, is critically ill in hospital with TB.

The MCC sends a cable to the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) welcoming their agreement that the tour should proceed and that discussions will take place after the end of the series.

February 3 The MCC squad has a torrid cross-country trip back to Brisbane. The Queensland Club announced it was not willing to allow its premises to be used for a dinner for the England team.

MCC officials will "neither confirm or deny" that the ACB has withdrawn accusations that the England side have indulged in "unsportsmanlike" tactics. Jardine earlier refuses to captain the side unless an apology is forthcoming.

In Sydney, Tim Wall takes all ten wickets in an innings for South Australia against New South Wales. Wall finishes with 10 for 36, and he grabs the last nine for five runs.

February 4 Queensland reach 79 for 1 before losing their last nine wickets for 122 runs against England's full pace attack, minus Bill Voce who has flu. However, there is still controversy when Ron Oxenham is given not out for a straightforward catch, the umpire claiming he is unsighted. Harold Larwood then peppers Oxenham with a string of bouncers - fortunately, he is bowled by Gubby Allen in the next over. Eddie Gilbert, the blisteringly fast Queensland bowler, strikes Jardine a painful blow on the hip, much to the delight of the crowd.
MCC 6 for 0 trail Queensland 201 (Litster 67, Cook 53) by 195 runs Scorecard

February 5 Rest day.

February 6 MCC make sluggish progress, sliding to 169 for 6 before Allen and Les Ames lead the recovery. Gilbert causes problems, but Ames provides the highlight of the day by straight driving him into the sightscreen for a six.
MCC 303 for 8 (Allen 66) lead Queensland 201 by 102 runs Scorecard

February 7 Larwood all but seals MCC's win with 4 for 15 before lunch, finishing with 6 for 31 and, according to Reuters, "making Gilbert seem like a medium-pacer". All the wickets came with conventional fields. The last six wickets fall in 45 minutes after lunch, with Herb Gamble providing momentary relief as he smacks one Larwood over for 14.
MCC 343 (Ames 80, Allen 66) beat Queensland 201 and 81 (Larwood 6-31) by an innings and 61 runs Scorecard

Australia announce their XI for the fourth Test. They draft in Darling and Bromley, two left-hand batsmen, with Tobin as 12th man. The newspapers speculate that it is a move to try to counter the leg-side Bodyline attack. It is also a high-risk strategy as they field only three front-line bowlers and seven specialist batsmen.

February 8 The ACB cables Lord's retracting the "unsportsmanlike" claims. Jardine is advised but still insists on telephoning London to get confirmation.

February 9 In a speech in New Deli, Lord Willingdon, the viceroy, dismisses criticism of Bodyline which he claims has been around as long as cricket itself.

Fourth Test

February 10 England bring in Mitchell for the ailing Voce, and for the third time Woodfull wins the toss. He and Vic Richardson add 133 for the opening stand as Jardine makes frequent bowling changes in sub-tropical heat. Several England players field in panama hats while the 15,000 crowd seek what little shelter is available. He also tries Bodyline with limited success, although the batsmen are clearly rattled when it is being used. Bradman remains unbeaten at the close while the Sydney Morning Herald booms: "Leg Theory Mastered".
Australia 251 for 3 (Richardson 83, Bradman 71*, Woodfull 67) Scorecard

February 11 Very much England's day. With 29,572 crammed into the Gabba, Larwood removes Ponsford and Bradman early, Bradman out when his leg stump is clattered as he shapes to cut. The last seven wickets add only 76 runs. Jardine admits that to counter the heat the bowlers had been given champagne. The only dampner is that Paynter is absent after coming down with tonsillitis. Jardine and Herbert Sutcliffe survive to the close, Sutcliffe surviving two vociferous appeals before bad light brings an early close
England 99 for 0 trail Australia 340 (Richardson 83, Bradman 76, Woodfull 67) by 241 runs Scorecard

February 12 Rest day.

February 13 A remarkable day which until the last hour has been fairly turgid viewing. England score 172 runs, 52 before lunch for the loss of Jardine. In the afternoon England lose their way and when Allen is out, it seems Australia are set for a decent first-innings lead. But out strides Paynter, who has risen from his hospital bed and rushed in a taxi to the ground, and he bolsters the England innings (click here for more) before returning to hospital at the close.
England 271 for 8 (Sutcliffe 86) trail Australia 340 by 69 runs Scorecard

February 14 Paynter returns from hospital and hammers 83, helping to add a crucial 131 for the last three wickets and guide England to a 16-run lead. Jardine again switches his bowlers regularly, and it pays off. Mitchell removes Woodfull for the second time, and then catches Bradman in the covers. Ponsford falls to an even better diving catch at square leg by Larwood, the only duck in his long Test career.
Australia 340 and 108 for 4 lead >England 356 (Sutcliffe 86, Paynter 83) by 92 runs Scorecard

February 15 McCabe and Darling weather the early storm, Larwood again peppering McCabe with bouncers. Verity makes the breakthrough when he bowls McCabe and the last six wickets fall for 76 runs. Darling is run out in the over before lunch, left stranded by Love, and after the break the last three wickets fall for six runs. Needing 160 to regain the Ashes, England start nervously on a pitch starting to keep low. Sutcliffe, dropped at slip by Mcabe, falls to Wall, and Jardine and Wyatt dig deep to see England through to tea on 45 for 1. Jardine goes 82 balls without scoring, making 24 before falling lbw to Bert Irnomonger, but Maurice Leyland and Wally Hammond steer them through the close.
England 356 and 107 for 2 trail Australia 340 and 175 by 52 runs Scorecard

The South Australia Cricket Association passes a motion deploring Bodyline, adding that such bowling would be classified in Australia as "unfair".

February 16 England regain the Ashes, even though overnight rain has spiced up the surface. Hammond is dismissed in the first half hour driving Ironmonger, and by the time Leyland edges to slip the result is a foregone conclusion. Fittingly, Paynter makes the winning hit, a six off McCabe just before lunch, and the players scramble for souvenir stumps. "O'Reilly was so good," says Warner, " that when Leyland was out I left the ground. I could not bear to see the end of the match. Woodfull congratulates England, adding: "Our defeat will only spur us on to do a little better next time," Jardine says : "I am naturally delighted that we have regained the Ashes, but hope I can say with Kipling that cricketers can meet triumph and disaster and treat the imposters in just the same way." The MCC squad attends a dinner-dance in the evening.
England 356 and 162 for 4 beat Australia 340 and 175 by six wickets Scorecard

The final hours of the Test are overshadowed by news that at the nearby hospital Jackson has died in the early hours. He was 23. Both sides wear black armbands and flags are lowered to half mast. In the hours before his death, Jackson sent a telegram to Larwood: "Congratulations magnificent bowling. Good luck all matches."

Australia make three changes to their squad for the final Test. Ponsford, Love and Tobin are replaced by Oldfield, O'Brien and Lisle Nagel.

February 17 Nagel withdraws from the Test, ostensibly because of an injured elbow but it later emerges he is unable to get time off work.

Most of the MCC squad heads south to Newcastle for a three-day match against Northern Districts of New South Wales on the train which also contains the Australian side. It also carries the body of Jackson home for his funeral. Jardine, Ames, Hammond and Verity travel to Sydney by steamship, missing the game.

February 18 The Newcastle Cricket Association are unimpressed with the weakened MCC side and send a request to the ACB for the board to make up the shortfall in gate money. Warner and Jack Hobbs again play, Warner barracked with cries of "Go for it, grandpa" in the field. Arthur Chipperfield's magnificent 152 takes 208 minutes, his hundred coming up in 105. Rayford Robinson is stuck in the groin by Voce and takes no further part in the match.
Northern Districts of New South Wales 320 for 7 (Chipperfield 152, Beaty 53) v MCC Scorecard

Perker Lee is drafted into the Australian squad to replace Nagel.

February 19 Rest day.

February 20 Fifty-year-old Hobbs rolls back the clock with 44 at the top of the innings, and the Nawab of Pataudi, nursing a chipped bone in a finger, holds things together with an unbeaten 87. Warner had less luck, being bowled hooking for 1. Play ends early when a dust-storm blows across the ground - it is already so dark that car headlights are being used to illuminate the scoreboard.
MCC 240 for 8 (Pataudi 87*) trail Northern Districts of New South Wales 322 (Chipperfield 152, Beaty 53) by 82 runs Scorecard

February 21 A low-key finish to the match. Pataudi fails to complete his hundred as he runs out of partners, and then Ray Little makes 117 in under three hours, sharing a seventh-wicket stand of 102 with Baker. As so often in the minor matches, Mitchell is the most impressive bowler with 4 for 62.
Northern Districts of New South Wales 322 and 236 (Little 117, Baker 50) drew with MCC 254 (Pataudi 94*, Wright 6-79) Scorecard

February 22 Allen, suffering from a side strain, misses nets, leading to speculation he will not be fit. In the event, he passes a fitness Test on the morning of the match. It is also rumoured that Pataudi will replace Wyatt.

Fifth Test

February 23 England only make one change, Voce, fit again, coming in for Mitchell. Jardine loses his fourth toss in five and England have to field in sweltering heat and under leaden skies. Jardine uses his bowlers in short bursts, Larwood removing the top three at a personal cost of 14 as Australia slide to 64 for 3. McCabe and O'Brien rally with a stand of 99, O'Brien surviving two chances to the slips. Darling also looks tentative, Allen spilling a return catch when he was on 12, but he survives to the close along with Oldfield, the latter surviving an over of out-and-out Bodyline at the end of the day.
Australia 296 for 5 (McCabe 73, Darling 66*, O'Brien 61) v England Scorecard

February 24 Darling perishes soon after the resumption, while Lee attacks from the off in making 42 at almost a run a ball. Oldfield reaches fifty before being brilliantly run out by a direct hit from Paynter at mid-off, and even O'Reilly and Alexander chip in. England miss more than a dozen catching chances, Larwood again the main sufferer. England look at ease in the final three hours, but lose Sutcliffe in the final overs. Hammond appears at his best, but he too benefits from two spurned slip catches.
England 152 for 2 (Hammond 72*) trail Australia 435 (Darling 85, McCabe 73, O'Brien 61, Oldfield 52) by 283 runs Scorecard

February 25 Larwood's final tormenting of Australia comes with the bat as he bats for two hours 18 minutes in making 98 as a reluctant nightwatchman. He hoists Lee for 2,4,6 and 2 and then holes out to Ironmonger, the self-confessed world's worst fielder, at mid-on. He returns to standing ovation from the packed SCG. Hammond makes his second hundred of the series - the only batsman on either side to do that - and a slow period is then followed by a good stand between Allen and Wyatt. Alexander and Lee both suffered from dropped catches
England 418 for 8 (Hammond 101, Larwood 98, Wyatt 51) trail Australia 435 (Darling 85, McCabe 73, O'Brien 61, Oldfield 52) by 17 runs Scorecard

February 26 Rest day.

February 27 Allen steers England to a first-innings lead of 19 in front of 43,000, and Woodfull and Bradman then make good headway after Richardson bags a pair. Woodfull is repeatedly struck by Larwood and Voce, and England then suffer a major setback when Larwood breaks down, but not before, for the first time, he has struck Bradman a painful blow on the shoulder. Jardine refuses to allow Larwood off the field until Bradman is out - "You can't go off while the little bastard's in". Bradman, meanwhile, attacks Verity until he is bowled for a 97-minute 71. The pair walk off together. Larwood has played his final Test. The innings then unravels as Verity exploits footmarks left by Alexander, the last nine wickets tumbling for 67 runs.
England 454 (Hammond 101, Larwood 98, Wyatt 51) and 11 for 0 trail Australia 435 and 182 (Bradman 71, Woodfull 67, Verity 5-33) by 152 runs Scorecard

February 28 Ironmonger removes Jardine and Leyland in quick succession to offer a glimmer of hope, but not before Jardine has engaged in one last battle, complaining vociferously about Alexander's follow-through. The net result is that Alexander unleashes a barrage of bouncers at Jardine who is repeatedly struck but doesn't bow. Hammond and Wyatt set about the bowling after lunch, one off drive from Hammond off O'Reilly being among the biggest hits seen on the ground. He finishes the match and the series with another six off Lee. Bradman doesn't take to the field, his shoulder stiff after being struck the day before.
England 454 and 168 for 2 (Hammond 75*, Wyatt 61*) beat Australia 435 and 182 by eight wickets Scorecard

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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