#4 Bodyline Series - 1932-33 Ashes
In the 1932-33 Ashes, England had quite a few challenges to overcome down under if they were to reclaim the Ashes. And the biggest of them all was the greatest batsman to have ever graced the sport, Sir Donald Bradman.
But, this time England had a plan, and though, it was not within the spirit of cricket, it was well within the rules of the game at the time.
There were no restrictions on the number of fielders one can place on the leg-side. So, bowling on the legs was a common tactic at the time to curb run scoring. But, England went a step ahead or rather a foot higher and targeted the bodies of the Australian batsmen.
England won the first test without employing the bodyline tactic, but then there was no Bradman. In the second test, Bradman returned and Australia won. Bradman scored an unbeaten hundred in the second innings. The third test in Adelaide witnessed English bowlers intimidating Australian batsmen, leaving a couple of them bruised and battered.
England won the series 4-1 and reclaimed the Ashes.
Besides criticism, there was no immediate impact. But, the following summer when a touring West Indies employed the same tactics against England, the authorities took notice.
MCC passed a resolution that "any form of bowling which is obviously a direct attack by the bowler upon the batsman would be an offence against the spirit of the game".
In 1934, MCC added a clause to the Laws relating to unfair play which restricted the number of fielders allowed behind square on the leg to two. And this finally led to the demise of the bodyline tactic.Published 22 Apr 2019, 07:51 IST