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Dramatization of the 1932/33 Test cricket series between England and Australia. Played in Australia, the series gained notoriety in Australian and worldwide cricketing history for the fact that the English team (headed by captain Douglas Jardine) applied a bowling technique called "leg theory", or more commonly, Bodyline. This technique involved bowlers bowling the ball directly at the batsman's body, and resulted in many of the Australian team receiving numerous bruises and injuries, with batsman Bert Oldfield sustaining a cracked skull. The series generated much anger and resentment towards the English team within Australia and seriously damaged Anglo-Australian cricketing relations at the time. Written by
Dave Bowyer <email@example.com>
Bodyline is a 1984 Australian TV miniseries dramatisation of the Ashes Cricket series of 1932-33, starring Hugo Weaving as Douglas Jardine and Gary Sweet as Donald Bradman.
The Australian touring side won the previous Ashes series in England, with débutant Bradman the deciding factor. In order to counter Bradman, who was predicted to be the major stumbling block, the English team set about determining the tactics for the upcoming series. The miniseries, shows the early development of Bradman and Jardine, the analysis of Bradman's weaknesses by the English team and the development of countering tactics and then shows the result over the 5 Test series. The series uses reconstructions of Test matches played and focuses on the key players involved.
The Ashes contest was controversial at the time for the 'Bodyline' tactic which consisted of short pitched leg side bowling combined with a close-in leg side field and leg side boundary protection. The intimidation of the batsmen, who at the time were virtually unprotected, resulted in several batsmen being hit. This caused claims of unsportsman like behaviour, crowd uproar, press headlines and an international incident. The key thing was the win at all costs attitude of Jardine, which led to the development and use of Bodyline and caused controversy within the English team and in Australia.
The TV series was a success at the time, however it was criticised by those that participated and were still alive. While most of the facts are correctly depicted, some are not. There is also dramatic license taken with the underlying story behind the facts.
While I never saw the series on TV, as an Australian and a cricket fan, I was aware of Bodyline. While the series was well acted, I would recommend anyone watching the series, to research Bodyline and contrast the series with the reality.
Of note was the inability of the British public to fully appreciate the tactics used, and there was no live coverage of the games in Australia. Instead, the English team were able to argue they were using 'fast leg theory' and the British public were unable to distinguish this from leg theory - (an existing tactic involving leg side bowling). Eventually Bodyline bowling was agreed to be dangerous and while legal, not in the spirit of the game. The rules of Cricket were changed to reduce the number of close-in leg side fielders behind the stumps and umpires were also given discretion to prevent intimidatory bowling.
Also, the players were amateurs and had little protection against fast bowling. Intimidatory bowling is still a tactic in the modern game, however the players are better prepared and protected. And better paid!
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