The Bodyline Hypocrisy – Book Review

As a Kirkby, Notts born lad Larwood has always been a hero of mine and I’d previously read Duncan Hamilton’s 2009 book – Harold Larwood. Then, more recently, I came across Michael Arnold’s book – The Bodyline Hypocrisy. Having long thought that Larwood and his captain Jardine (not forgetting fellow Notts fast bowler Bill Voce of course) had been used and abused by cricketing authorities to serve wider political ends this book goes into such issues in great detail. Suffice to say it has confirmed my view.

Statue of Harold Larwood in my (and his) own home town of Kirkby-In-Ashfield. Before it was moved for redevelopment.

The 1932/33 tour Down Under by a good quality England Team turned out to be the most controversial series just about ever not least because of the accuracy of Larwood’s fast bowling. He could seemingly drop a cricket ball on a sixpence regularly, an art that very, very few really fast bowlers have ever been able to do. Couple that with a captain who knew how to expose the weaknesses in the Australian batting and a great partnership, across a class divide, was created. Add to that the poor condition of the Austrian pitches, which were actually the cause of two infamous incidents where Aussie batsman were seriously hurt, and the fact that the Australians had a poor bowling line up and all that was left to Australians was to complain and complain they did!

I would have loved to have met Harold Larwood but the nearest I was to come was hearing my Mum (Sheila Calladine) talking about being at (Vernon Road?) school, Kirkby-In-Ashfield with one of his daughters – I think that will have been June Larwood.

All in all this book is indeed a good read in cricketing terms but also in helping the reader to understand the times in which the controversy took place and the mind set of Australians.

I was born in Orchard Road Kirkby-In-Ashfield in 1958 and lived there until the age of 6 with my Mum & Dad Sheila & George Robertson. Now exiled on Merseyside I visit Kirkby occasionally.

Lancashire Greats – Akram, Engineer & Lloyd

Whilst I’ve always been a supporter of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club (because I’m a Nott’s lad) I have equally always had great affection for Lancashire (I’ve lived in the Lancs since the the age of 6) so the video linked below unsurprisingly caught my eye on You Tube:-

www.youtube.com/watch?v=OxT6J0oxoaY

Hearing David Lloyd talk about Lancashire’s 3 greatest overseas players – Farokh Engineer, Clive Lloyd & Wasim Akram reminded me that Notts too had 3 similar greats – Gary Sobers, Clive Rice & Richard Hadlee.

The demise of Nottinghamshire CCC with regard to ‘Red Ball’ cricket has been astonishing – They’ve not won a County Championship match since June 2018 and seemingly counting! Then out of the blue Notts post 268 for 2 against Lancs on the opening day of the current Bob Willis Trophy match at Trent Bridge yesterday. But sadly all I could think of at close of play was how can Notts contrive to lose from such a commanding position? Having been in seemingly winning positions against both Derbyshire & Yorkshire this season Notts have chucked it all away each time so you can bet that Lancs will expecting the same to apply……..

Sadly there are no big names in either squad for this 4 day match but then again county cricket rarely sees the best from across the world playing these days. 365 day a year international cricket could well be killing county cricket off……….

1981 – A County Championship win for Notts

I recently purchased this commemorative plate via ebay and as a Notts lad who loves cricket I’m delighted to have it for display in our house. Whether my good lady shares this enthusiasm is a different matter though!

This was a strong side with Randall, Hadlee, Rice, Robinson, Hemmings, French and Hassan all being top class cricketers. Those who know me will realise how much I enjoyed watching Derek Randall bat and field but I always felt that Kenyan-born Basharat Hassan was often overlooked as a batsman of some considerable class on his day.

Sefton Council’s Stress Reliever/Stress Ball – A nerd’s way of coping:-)

The other day I uncovered a stress ball that I had long forgotten about and had it not had ‘Sefton Travel Team’ stamped on it I would have struggled to know where it had come from.

I’m guessing that it came from my time as a Sefton Councillor, or even as Council Leader. It was probably given to me as I’m a train nut and maybe by someone who thought I was exhibiting stress at the time! Yes, it’s in the shape of a metro/transit type carriage of a generic type:-

But being a train nut I was tempted, having found it, to see if I could work out which real metro/transit train it compared to. You have to understand my level of nerdiness here of course! My conclusion? A Chicago ‘L’ train 2600-series unless anyone can be more nerdy than me and suggest an alternative. Now there’s a challenge which only a train nut would be tempted to take up……..

In the tough times we are presently facing a stress ball or two may come in handy and I actually now have 4! Here are the other 3:-`

A CWU trade union post box styled stress ball – part of their ‘keep the post public’ campaign

The trade union I worked for in a lay officer capacity for over 30 years

Well I had to have a cricket stress ball. From the 2008 Ashes Series. These were sold by M&S.

Oh and what do you think gets me stressed out? The usually poor performances of Mansfield Town FC & Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club

Sobers couldn’t have done it without Nash

Surely cricket’s most famous day – 6 sixes in one over – see link below

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/av/cricket/45361645

I wonder how many times Malcolm Nash has related the story of how he was hit for 6 sixes? Notice Sobers having a fag whilst being interviewed! How times change……..

Here’s a link all about Sobers:-

www.trentbridge.co.uk/trentbridge/history/players/sir-garfield-sobers.html

As a Nottinghamshire lad Sobers, Randall and Larwood are my cricketing heroes……….

My cricketing heroes – Derek Randall, Richard Hadlee, Garfield Sobers & Harold Larwood

Coming from the Nottinghamshire coalfield and from the very same district (Kirkby-In-Ashfield) as Harold Larwood (who was born in nearby Nuncargate in 1904) it’s probably no surprise that my sporting heroes are all cricketers; Notts cricketers unsurprisingly.

Statue of Harold Larwood in my (and his) own home town of Kirkby-In-Ashfield. Before it was moved for redevelopment.

Harold Larwood

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/harold-larwood.html#.W4E7ubgnbIU

Derek Randall

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/derek-randall.html#.W4E5n7gnbIU

Richard Hadlee

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/richard-hadlee.html#.W4E6xrgnbIU

Garfield Sobers

history.trentbridge.co.uk/players/sir-garfield-sobers.html#.W4E7grgnbIU

As a young man in the 1970’s I was often found listening to Test Match Special on the radio in the middle of the night and of course back then cricket was on the regular TV, no pay to view exclusivity. The John Player Sunday League was a delight on BBC2 which my old Dad and I would regularly watch. I would add that I think cricket has been done a great disservice by becoming significantly inaccessible on free to view TV, a penny that I think has finally dropped with the cricketing powers that be.

Randall, nick names Rags and Arkle, is my number one sporting hero; this eccentric fidgeting batsman could, on his day, take on any bowling and his fielding was probably the best the world has ever seen or ever will see.

The old saying was that when a fast bowler was required all you had to do was to call down a Nottinghamshire coal pit and one would emerge – Harold Larwood was one such miner called from the pit to break Australian hearts. What a bowler – speed and accuracy. That he was blamed for the Bodyline series down under was an utter disgrace as he was doing what his captain asked him to do. However when the sh1t hit the fan the poor working class bowler carried the can and the upper class captain all but got away with it.

It was fitting that a statue of Larwood was erected in my old home town (it’s pictured above) and whilst I have not seen it since it was moved as part of a town centre redevelopment I’m sure this old Kirkby lad will have a tear in his eye next time he sees it.

Richard Hadlee was a very accurate pace bowler and the fact that pitches at Trent Bridge were made for him is testament to his recognisable ability. A Kiwi who like all my cricketing heroes played Test Cricket, in his case for New Zealand, he was a delight to watch and batsmen hated facing him.

And then there’s the quite wonderful all round cricketer Garfield Sobers, that giant of West Indies cricket who could turn his arm over as either a medium fast or spin bowler. He was also pretty good with the bat too as this video clip from the BBC proves:-

www.bbc.co.uk/sport/cricket/45357768

And I say all this whilst Nottinghamshire have just completed a very poor 2018 season indeed, surviving in the County Championship Division 1 by virtue of winning just one more match than Lancashire with whom they ended up on the same number of points. If Lancs had scored just a few more runs in their last but one innings Notts would have been relegated instead of them. Oh how we need some heroes now as the present team could easily get Notts relegated to the 2nd Division again next year, indeed many Notts supporters will sadly be almost expecting that slide in the 2019 season unless some big changes are made at Trent Bridge.