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June 22, 1993
The legendary paceman, Harold Larwood, the famous English bowler has been awarded an MBE (Member of the British Empire), in the Queen's birthday honours, 60 years after he made his name in the controversial bodyline Ashes series in Australia.
The honour backed by cricket lover and British Prime Minister John Major, is seen as a long overdue recognition for Larwood, whose lethal, short-pitched deliveries caused fury in the Ashes series of 1932-33. Larwood is now 88 years of age. After that controversial tour of Australia, he was shunned by the cricketing world and never played for England again.
Mr. Major ensured that Larwood's name was finally cleared for his part in the notorious bodyline series. Larwood's MBE, awarded today, was warmly welcomed throughout the cricket world, including his old Australian rival, Sir Don Bradman. The ex-Nottinghamshire star settled in a Sydney suburb in 1948, is now frail and almost blind and remains a close friend of The Don.
Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club has reacted with delight after hearing of Larwood's MBE award. Its Chairman, Mr. Maurice Youdell said, "It's wonderful that he's received it; he's a lovely man and it is well deserved."
The Test and County Cricket Board, Chief Executive, Mr. Alan Smith, said, "We are absolutely delighted... he's a great figure in the annals of Ashes cricket. Many say he was the fastest."
Larwood was the main weapon in Douglas Jardine's tactics of bowling short-pitched deliveries aimed at the batsmen's body with a ring of fielders on the legside. He captured 32 wickets and helped England win the series. The tactics were evolved mainly to prevent Bradman from accumulating runs. Larwood was the fastest, most accurate and lethal in the business then. He had a beautiful action and a natural ability to extract lift from the pitch, and the pitches down under suited him to the hilt. Many Australian batsmen were badly hurt in the series, for then there were no helmets, chest pads and other protective gear.
Jardine's ploy was a great success as far as the Englishmen were concerned, but the whole series was in a shambles and the Australians were so badly mauled that they even threatened to call off the tour.
Gubby Allen did not approve of these tactics and did not support his skipper, while the Nawab of Pataudi, returned to India after the second test Bill Woodfull, the Australian captain, in disgust declared, "There are two teams out there - one is trying to play cricket while the other is not."
The unsportsman-like behaviour of the English team, led to the following limerick at Her Majesty's Theatre in Sydney: "With a prayer and a curse They prepare for hearse, Undertakers look on with broad grins Oh! They'd look a lot calmer In Ned Kelly's armour When Larwood the wrecker begins."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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