Trevor Wedlake's Writings
Ashes to ashes
Published in the Village Journal March, 1975
|Hope turned to the wrong type of ashes in Sydney on January 9th when Australia won the 4th Test having drawn the 3rd and won the first two. All the excitement and tension, (and a little sadness), that have accompanied this tour have been brought about by good old fashioned fast bowling. Lillee, who we all thought was “over the hill”, and Thompson, the young typhoon we’d scarcely heard of, have intimidated and wounded our best batsmen.
Anger and controversy have often attended England-Australia Test matches, and these two imposters have usually intruded because of hostile fast bowling. Fast bowling is to cricket what the heavyweight division is to boxing, it is the big crowd-puller. Spin bowlers have their wiles and guiles and artistry, but fast bowling is primeval; it is one male pitting his strength and nerve and sinew against another.
The 1932-3 series in Australia caused more uproar and ill-feeling than any before or since. England' s great fast bowlers under the autocratic and fearless D.R. Jardine were the cause. Jardine had devised his barely ethical body-line theory to contain Bradman, and Larwood was his main agent. To a packed on-side field Larwood sent down his short pitched deliveries at great speed and with an accuracy not seen in Australia on this tour.
In the Melbourne Test beginning December 30th 1932 which Australia won there was a memorable incident though not involving bodyline. England left out Verity and played Bill Bowes in his only Test of the tour. Bowes, bespectacled and professorial was the master of the late away-swing technique. He was bowling when Bradman, the master of all bowlers, whose average even body-line could only reduce to the fifties, came in to bat.