West Indies dominated cricket for many years, the splendour of their batting overshadowed by the brutality on show while they were on the field. Batsman certainly hadn't a full Bodyline field to contend with. The massing of fielders on the leg side, close in to catch the desperate parries and in the distance to catch lobbed hooks, has been reduced by legislation. But there were still enough vultures around the bat - themselves protected by helmets, boxes, and shin-pads to catch the desperate jabs and fend against the relentless day-long barrage of short balls. It was not as if the West Indian bowlers were lacking control in skill and control. Quite the opposite, Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose stand in the fast bowlers' all-time Hall of Fame for their speed and inherent know-how.
It was a lamentable fact that throughout an entire innings front-foot batsmanship was all but impossible against West Indies sides captained by Clive Lloyd and later, Vivian Richards. Scarcely a ball was pitched further than three-fifths of the way down the track. Spin bowling was apparently obsolete. And so marked had been the change in society's temperament and attitude since Bodyline - on the other side of a terrifying global war in the time-line - that nobody seems to have been inclined to jump over the fence to express personal outrage at what was on show - apart from one cheesed off man who did leap the Adelaide Oval pickets one afternoon in 1993 and run out to the middle to express his disapproval and despair at the interminable short stuff sent down by Ambrose, Bishop, Walsh and Kenny Benjamin. Yet back in 1993 a squadron of mounted troopers had come within a shout of being summoned to quell a riot at the normally tranquil Adelaide Oval after Australia's wicketkeeper had been sent reeling after edging a ball from Larwood onto his skull, their captain having been badly hurt two days previously......
With such fast-bowling riches at their disposal from 1976 to 1991, West Indies, by their peculiar obsession with the short-pitcher, squandered a golden chance of becoming not only the premier cricket team in the world but one to be universally admired and feted by posterity. Even in 1995, Lord Deedes, journalist/editor, former cabinet minister, and cricket lover, was moved to write, after watching the West Indies fast bowlers in action in the Old Trafford Test that year, that some of the bowling on view had been "far more intimidatory than any of the old bodyline stuff bowled by Larwood and Voce". Bill Deedes, who once graphically described Bodyline as "cricket's Hiroshima", went on to pen a consoling thought: "Our chaps took it on the chin, whereas the Australians (in 1933) screamed "murder!".