Bodyline Bowling

January 21, 2017 Law

| |Preliminary Modern History |
| |Historical Investigation |
| | |
| |Joshua Johnston |
| | |
| |Ms A M Campos |
| | |
| |CBHS Lewisham |

|[Bodyline bowling and the 1932-1933 Anglo-australian test series] |
|Bodyline Bowling, or Leg-Theory, was a tactic employed by the English Cricket team against the Australians in the 1932-1933 Ashes Test |
|Series. Bodyline bowling is the deliberate bowling of a short delivery down the leg-side aimed at the ribcage and head of the batsmen. |
|This would then cause them to loft the ball in to a packed leg-side field where they would hopefully be caught. |

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Role of Test-Cricket in Anglo- Australian relations

Reasons for the development of Bodyline Bowling
There were many reasons for the development of Bodyline bowling. The main reason for which Bodyline bowling was used was to minimise the effects of key Australian batsmen
Controversy over Bodyline Bowling in the 1932-1933 Test Series

Social and Imperial implications of the Bodyline controversy
Throughout the 1932-1933 Test series there was a series of telegrams which were sent back and forth between the English and Australian Governments, more accurately the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) (England) and the Australian Board of Control (ABC) (Australia), discussing whether or not the implementation of the tactic of Bodyline bowling was both against the Laws of Cricket and not within the spirit of the game[1]. The telegrams sparked great arguments over the Laws of Cricket; whether the English team was playing in the spirit of the game; or it was just that the Australian batsmen had had minimal experience facing the pace and style of bowling that was delivered by the English bowlers.
The first of four telegrams that was sent between the ABC and the MCC was sent on the 18th of January 1933. The first of these telegrams was sent by the ABC to the MCC saying that the use of the Bodyline bowling tactic would upset the friendly relations between the two nations. The whole telegram is:
ABC to MCC, January 18th 1933
Bodyline bowling assumed such proportions as to menace best interests of game, making protecting of body by acts the main consideration. Causing intensely bitter feelings between players as well as injury. In our opinion is unsportsmanlike. Unless stopped at once likely to upset friendly relations existing between Australia and England.
It was with this first telegram that the ABC expressed its concern for the players of the Australian Cricket Team and also that the English players were playing against the rules and the spirit of the game. After the first telegram was sent it took the MCC almost five days to reply.
The reply of the MCC was highly anticipated and their response to the matter was only to go against the opinion of the ABC, deploring their previous telegram. The entire telegram is:
MCC to ABC, January 23rd 1993
Much regret contents of your cable. Marylebone assured that no English bowler bowls at the man but at leg stump which is said to be the weakness of certain batsmen. Cricketers of today have not great experience of fast bowling and the open stance of batsmen necessarily increases risk. Of all considerations friendly relations and the game itself paramount. If remaining Tests cannot be played in this spirit and appreciated by players and spectators alike would it not be well to consider substitution of state games We, MCC deplore your cable. We depreciate your opinion that there has been unsportsmanlike play. We have fullest confidence in captain, team and managers, and are convinced that they would do nothing to infringe either the Laws of Cricket or the spirit of the game. We have no evidence that our confidence has been misplaced. Much as we regret accidents to Woodfull and Oldfield, we understand that in neither case was the bowler to blame. If the ABC wishes to propose a new law or rule it shall receive our careful consideration in due course. We hope the situation is not now as serious as your cable would seem to indicate, but if such as to jeopardise the good relations between English and Australian cricketers, and you consider it desirable to cancel the remainder of the programme, we would consent with great reluctance.
The MCC was disgusted with the opinion of the ABC that the English team was neither playing within the Laws of Cricket or in the spirit of the game. It was the accusation of a false accusation that the English Cricket team had been cheating throughout the Test Series that caused the ABC to realise that it would be difficult for the MCC to accept the accusation that was placed against them as they had not yet had the opportunity to see the Test matches being played or the opportunity to see what the Australians were going on about with the supposed bodyline bowling.
The final telegram sent by the ABC to the MCC denied the request to abort the rest of the Test Series programme. It was:
ABC to MCC, January 30th 1933
We, ABC, appreciate your difficulty in dealing with the matter raised in our cable without having seen the actual play. We unanimously regard Bodyline bowling as adopted in some of the games in the present tour as being opposed to the spirit of cricket and unnecessarily dangerous to players. We are deeply concerned that the ideals of the game shall be protected, and have therefore appointed a committee to report on the action necessary to eliminate such bowling from all cricket matches in Australia as from the beginning of the 1933/1934 season. Will forward copy of the committee??™s recommendation for your consideration, and, it is hoped, with co-operation, as to its application in all cricket. We do not consider it necessary to cancel remainder of programme.
Upon receiving this telegram from the ABC, the MCC accepted their request to not abandon the rest of the schedule and also that the ABC was able to understand the difficulty in reasoning with Bodyline bowling without having seen it. The MCC also questions the ABC over their comment that their team was playing in an unsportsmanlike manner.
MCC to ABC, February 2nd 1933
We, the Committee of the MCC, note with pleasure that you do not consider it necessary to cancel the remainder of the programme, and that you are postponing the whole issue involved until after the present tour is completed. May we accept this as a clear indication that the good sportsmanship of our team is not in question We are sure you will appreciate how impossible it would be to play any Test Match in the spirit we all desire unless both sides were satisfied there was no reflection upon their sportsmanship. When your recommendation reaches it shall receive our most careful consideration and will be submitted to the Imperial Cricket Council.
[1] Peter Arnold & Peter Wynne-Thomas; 1990; The Ashes ??“ A Complete Illustrated History; Axiom Publishing; Kent Town (South Australia).

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