Australia boasted the most prolific batsman the game had ever seen: the young Don Bradman. He had to be stopped. The leg-side bouncer onslaught inflicted by Larwood and Bill Voce, with a ring of fieldsmen waiting for catches, caused an outrage that reverberated to the back of the stands and into the highest levels of government. Bodyline, as this infamous technique came to be known, was repugnant to the majority of cricket-lovers.
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Advertisement David Frith promises the definitive account of the series and, if there is such a beast, Bodyline Autopsy is it.
It is exhaustively researched and judiciously written. Bodyline Autopsy covers the Test matches thoroughly, but also places Bodyline in context. Bodyline Autopsy is sports history at its best and will be lapped up by cricket lovers after yet another one-sided Ashes series. Jardine was all these things. But Frith shows he was also an outstanding captain, was far more sporting than he was given credit for, had a dry sense of humour and great physical and moral courage.
When the West Indians decided to give Jardine a taste of his own medicine, he not only took numerous hits to the body, but refused to show pain or even to rub the spot.
Bradman has long been acclaimed as the greatest cricketer of all, and in recent years has, like Muhammad Ali, been elevated to sporting sainthood. Frith, who was a friend, reveals him as mean-spirited, hypocritical and cowardly. We have a plethora of Bradmania; a warts-and-all biography is long overdue. A selection of the best Australian sports writing is also due.
This volume is edited by long-time sports writer, historian and enthusiast, Garrie Hutchinson. And journalism has fired this tradition, Hutchinson argues, fleshing out his informative essay by reprinting a vivid account, which appeared in The Bulletin, of the Jack Johnson-Tommy Burns heavyweight bout in An example: "Johnson was not depressed by the tremendous ovation his rival received. Any anthology claiming to represent the best is open to quibbles about selection.
Matthew Ricketson co-ordinates the journalism program at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
Australia Write a review Shelves: , 5-star-reviews , sport A comprehensive and compelling account of the most sensational and controversial test series in the history of cricket. The impact of Bodyline continued well beyond this series. Also notable for the wonderful character analyses of many of the key participants, players and administrators alike. Apr 11, Michael Webster rated it it was amazing I am usually quite sceptical of sports books and when I was bought this for a Christmas, many, many years ago, I was not overly impressed. I picked Bodyline Autopsy up again last year and re-read it and was very much impressed.
Bodyline Autopsy; The Best Australian Sports Writing 2002
The tactic involved bowling at leg stump or just outside it, pitching the ball short so that it reared at the body of a batsman standing in an orthodox batting position. A ring of fielders ranged on the leg side would catch any defensive deflection from the bat. The last course carried additional risks. Defensive shots brought few runs and could carry far enough to be caught by the fielders on the leg side; pull and hook shots could be caught on the edge of the field where two men were usually placed for such a shot. Among the first to use it was the writer and former Australian Test cricketer Jack Worrall ; in the match between the English team and an Australian XI, when bodyline was first used in full, he referred to "half-pitched slingers on the body line" and first used it in print after the first Test.