It is 80th Year since the biggest cricket controversy of its time happened. When a defensive approach of orthodox “leg theory” was modified to create a lethal weapon against MCC‘s (England Cricket Team’s) biggest fear Donald Bradman. This TV series is one of my favourite and gives the inside story of the three main characters behind the cricket strategy that Australian Media named as the “Bodyline“. This is a six epesode series produced back in mid 80s, this pure classic will be shared here in two parts. So for this week Part one is below with some commentary:
Born in India in the heyday of the British Raj, Douglas’s childhood was tempered by loneliness and the rigors of England’s public schooling system for aristocrats. As time flew, he became somewhat of a touchy-feely maverick who firmly knew his high place in the pecking order of things, somewhat helped by the deep social stratification Britain used to have in the 1920’s. This attitude would lead to plenty of barricading from Australian fans although these fans didn’t really hate him for being English, but more due to his arrogance and deep-seated class prejudice.
Scene to watch for in 45:32
Douglas Jardine (while setting foot on Australian soil): “Porter, would you be so kind, our bags!”
Australian porter: “You be the English team, are you?”
Douglas Jardine: “Yes, that’s right.”
Australian porter: “Carry your own bloody bags.”
In this episode, we are introduced to Percy George Fender (John Gregg) who would become Douglas’s most valuable friend and mentor in years to come.
Here we are introduced to Donald Bradman’s magnificent innings in England’s 1929 tour. Jardine is the first English cricketer to observe that Bradman could one day “rewrite all record books” even though his associates dismiss him as nothing but a flash in pan. He also expresses his disdain for Australians with “Australians are not a people I’d ever warm to.”
The next summer the Australian team toured England. Bradman becames a sensation with records that the English never imagined of – double hundreds, fastest century etc. It is here in the midst of this crisis in Ashes defeat that Jardine speaks of a strategy to “neutralize” Bradman – “We tried bowling him out. Now we try think him out.”
We also see a self-sacrifice gesture by Fenders, Jardine’s best friend, who resigns from Surrey’s captaincy so that Jardine can fulfill the minimum need of becoming a County captain. Last scene the MCC Board toast the new “Captain” of England.
Fenders and Jardine discuss strategies to contain Bradman in England’s upcoming tour to Australia. They watch several video reels of Bradman’s batting form to find his Achilles Heel, with no success. Jardine interviews bowlers including Larwood who suggests Bradman faces problems in dealing with short-pitched deliveries towards his right leg.
The English team embarks on a 12000 mile journey to Australia in a vessel. Jardine soon lays down his blueprint for attack.