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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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
As a seven-year old just beginning to learn cricket I had just heard the name Don Bradman from my father, being referred as the best batsman ever. Naturally, when the show "Bodyline" started airing in India in 1985/1986, I was excited since I would get to see how prolific Bradman was. I loved the series then, but could never locate it later on reruns or recorded media. Luckily a couple of weeks back I came across an Australian website selling DVDs of the series.
Watching the series in a new light more than 20 years after I saw it for the first time was a great experience. Having acquired a good knowledge of both, the game's history and the rules provided me a fresh perspective. And the verdict? The series is brilliant!
I did believe it over-dramatised events to an extent. There were also minor historical inaccuracies and omissions:
1. Not having a mention of George Duckworth (the English wicketkeeper) being the person who observed the uncertainties in Bradman's stance while facing fast bowling on a wet wicket (attributing it to Larwood instead).
2. Not showing the Notts captain Arthur Carr providing inputs regarding the leg theory approach and rehearsing it with Larwood and Voce in English county cricket (rather showing Douglas Jardine doing all the planning himself).
3. Showing Douglas Jardine as an upright and politically correct person not given to using terms questioning his opponents' parentage (but he actually encouraged his teammates to refer to Bradman as "the little bastard").
4. Bert Oldfield was hit by Larwood on the head while Larwood was not bowling Bodyline, contrary to what the series shows. Moreover the hit was due to a deflection from Oldfield's bat. Oldfield in fact claimed "My own fault" later.
But I am nitpicking. The series is all about showing how and why one of the most vilified cricket strategies came into being. It focuses on Douglas Jardine's drive to get the Ashes back in England and shows that he would not stop at any point as long as he was within the rules.
Contrary to what a few other reviewers on this site have written, I found the representation of the events quite unbiased. Over-dramatisation is a part of the representation of any sporting event on-screen and there is no loss of flavour to "Bodyline" for that. If anything, it was charitable to Douglas Jardine. He is always shown as being in awe of Bradman's batting abilities and the main reason for his tactics comes off as an overwhelming desire to win the Ashes, rather than harbouring racist feelings and hatred towards Australia.
Other players are shown in honest light too - Larwood and Voce obeying their captain's orders to the letter, Pataudi quitting when things were going against the concepts of fair play, Woodfull refusing to employ similar tactics both out of choice and necessity (his team did not have bowlers of Larwood's ability), and so on.
All in all, this is a great watch. If you are a cricket lover then you should definitely see it. And if you are a fan of any kind of sports, then this series shows you to what extent it is possible to go to stop a champion.
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