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Thread: Bodyline Autopsy

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    International Captain watson's Avatar
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    Bodyline Autopsy

    In his excellent work 'Bodyline Autopsy' David Frith begins his story in the opening chapters by drawing a direct comparison between Bodyline and the tactics employed by the West Indies teams of the 1980s and 1990s;

    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!".

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    I'm sure that any England fan who watched Ian Bishop target Robin Smith first-hand during the 1995 series could relate to the sentiment expressed by Lord Deedes. When Malcolm Marshall was having trouble removing the pesky David Boon during the West Indies tour of Australia in 1984/85 he was reputed to sledge (if I remember rightly): "Now are you going to get out soon, or do I have to go around the wicket and kill you." Even Allan Border had problems keeping the short-ball way from the short leg-fielder in that series and averaged only 27 with a top score of 69.

    Quite obviously history has not recorded the 1933 Bodyline tour favourably. Even 80 years later the mention of Bodyline causes heated debates and arguments between various fans. But what should the legacy of the West Indian reign during the 1980s and 1990s be when we look back at the tactics employed by Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards? Should we view the West Indian era with fondness and say "well played", or agree with David Frith and call their reign a 'golden chance' 'squandered'?

    Also, and slightly off topic - how would Bradman have faired if he played all his cricket between 1980-1993 rather than 1928-38, 1946-48? During the Bodyline series Bradman averaged 56.57 and made the following string of scores: 0-103-8-66-76-24-48-71. I think that he would have made his usual big scores against England and the other lesser teams, but it is a reasonable assumption that he would have averaged around 56 against the West Indian fast bowlers. After all, as David Frith points out, there was not a lot of difference between that offered-up by Douglas Jardine and the tactics employed by Clive Lloyd or Viv Richards - "Same horse, different jockey" as they say.
    Last edited by watson; 02-11-2013 at 10:55 PM.
    Sunil Gavaskar – Len Hutton – Don Bradman – Garry Sobers – Viv Richards – Keith Miller – Imran Khan – Jock Cameron – Richie Benaud – Malcolm Marshall – Bill O’Reilly

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    International Vice-Captain kyear2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by watson View Post
    In his excellent work 'Bodyline Autopsy' David Frith begins his story in the opening chapters by drawing a direct comparison between Bodyline and the tactics employed by the West Indies teams of the 1980s and 1990s;



    I'm sure that any England fan who watched Ian Bishop target Robin Smith first-hand during the 1995 series could relate to the sentiment expressed by Lord Deedes. When Malcolm Marshall was having trouble removing the pesky David Boon during the West Indies tour of Australia in 1984/85 he was reputed to sledge (if I remember rightly): "Now are you going to get out soon, or do I have to go around the wicket and kill you." Even Allan Border had problems keeping the short-ball way from the short leg-fielder in that series and averaged only 27 with a top score of 69.

    Quite obviously history has not recorded the 1933 Bodyline tour favourably. Even 80 years later the mention of Bodyline causes heated debates and arguments between various fans. But what should the legacy of the West Indian reign during the 1980s and 1990s be when we look back at the tactics employed by Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards? Should we view the West Indian era with fondness and say "well played", or agree with David Frith and call their reign a 'golden chance' 'squandered'?

    Also, and slightly off topic - how would Bradman have faired if he played all his cricket between 1980-1993 rather than 1928-38, 1946-48? During the Bodyline series Bradman averaged 56.57 and made the following string of scores: 0-103-8-66-76-24-48-71. I think that he would have made his usual big scores against England and the other lesser teams, but it is a reasonable assumption that he would have averaged around 56 against the West Indian fast bowlers. After all, as David Frith points out, there was not a lot of difference between that offered-up by Douglas Jardine and the tactics employed by Clive Lloyd or Viv Richards - "Same horse, different jockey" as they say.
    The hypocrisy of the Anglo - Australian press always amuses me when it comes to the West Indian bowling attack, which is for me without doubt the greatest bowling attack in the history of the game and from 1976- 1991 one of the two great phenomenons of this great game along with Bradman (and possibly Grace and Sobers).
    To say there was an obsession with the short ball beyond what was employed by all of the great attacks in history, starting with Larwood and Voce and later improved upon with Lindwall and Miller and Lillee, Thomson and Co is simply hyperbole. Yes it was often used to soften up the batsmen and at times in the late '70's may have been overly employed (particularly vs Close and Co and that one series vs India) but the mass majority of the wickets taken by the W.I in that era were behind the wicket or LBW, difficult to do that with missiles aimed at your throat.
    The bowlers without exception were exceptionally skilled and it wasn't their job, much like the ruthless Australians of Border, Waugh and Ponting to be liked or admired but to win and to crush their opponents and that's what most sides did and they should be respected and yes admired for that.
    AS for the Australians, Englishmen and Indians (where even their flat pitches were of little relief) of the era who cried murder, then that shows how good and efficient those great attacks were at their jobs in all conditions. But lets not for a second pretend that they invented the bumper as it was affectionately known, when it was employed by Lindwall and Miller against Weekes we didn't complain, likewise when Lillee, Thomson and co ravaged us in 1976 with an even greater concentration of bouncers (and rampant over stepping if some of the reports from the tour are to believed) we didn't complain, we learned from it and perfected it to become the greatest team in the history of the game up to that point.
    So no, don't think they squandered any opportunity at history, we made it and there is noting lamentable about that.
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    Aus. XI
    Simpson^ | Hayden | Bradman | Chappell^ | Ponting | Border* | Gilchrist+ | Davidson3 | Warne4^ | Lillee1 | McGrath2


    W.I. XI
    Greenidge | Hunte | Richards^ | Headley* | Lara^ | Sobers5^ | Walcott+ | Marshall1 | Ambrose2 | Holding3 | Garner4

    S.A. XI
    Richards^ | Smith*^ | Amla | Pollock | Kallis5^ | Nourse | Cameron+ | Procter3 | Steyn1 | Tayfield4 | Donald2

    Eng. XI
    Hobbs | Hutton*^ | Hammond^ | Compton | Barrington | Botham5^ | Knott | Trueman1 | Laker4 | Larwood2 | Barnes3

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    Request Your Custom Title Now! Flem274*'s Avatar
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    The all day short ball barrages have to be typical past player nostalgia/bigging up their own achievements. No way could a four man attack bowl bouncers for 80-90 overs straight, and bouncers massively reduce the modes of dismissal open to the bowler.

    Plus we have footage of the Windies pitching it up so...
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    International Vice-Captain OverratedSanity's Avatar
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    When Lillee and Thomson bounced everyone to hell and back, it's great fast bowling, but when the Windies did it and did it better, it's suddenly "brutal" and "going too far" . Ridiculous. The worst thing is that the extraordinary skill of Marshall and co is bring denigrated here and they're basically being called one truck ponies who just bowled bouncers all day. The writer loses all credibility... It's not as if those bowlers used seam, swing, bowled cutters on flat pitches or bowled phenomenal yorkers... Oh no no, it was just bouncers all day
    And what a load of **** that was when the writer said that they missed a golden chance to be admired? Give me a break... The whole world was in awe of their utter domination,commitment and brilliant skill... just like the Aussies of the 2000s... They cbf with being seen as nice guys as long as they didn't lose a test series for a decade and a half
    Last edited by OverratedSanity; 03-11-2013 at 01:57 AM.
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    International Vice-Captain OverratedSanity's Avatar
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    And no, Windies bowling wasn't like Bodyline... Bodyline's leg side field made it ridiculously hard to score in an unfair manner... Greg Chappel and many others did fairly ok against the quartet... Hell Mohinder Amarnath found a way, you think Bradman wouldn't? He'd still have scored well

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    International Vice-Captain kyear2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by watson View Post
    In his excellent work 'Bodyline Autopsy' David Frith begins his story in the opening chapters by drawing a direct comparison between Bodyline and the tactics employed by the West Indies teams of the 1980s and 1990s;



    I'm sure that any England fan who watched Ian Bishop target Robin Smith first-hand during the 1995 series could relate to the sentiment expressed by Lord Deedes. When Malcolm Marshall was having trouble removing the pesky David Boon during the West Indies tour of Australia in 1984/85 he was reputed to sledge (if I remember rightly): "Now are you going to get out soon, or do I have to go around the wicket and kill you." Even Allan Border had problems keeping the short-ball way from the short leg-fielder in that series and averaged only 27 with a top score of 69.

    Quite obviously history has not recorded the 1933 Bodyline tour favourably. Even 80 years later the mention of Bodyline causes heated debates and arguments between various fans. But what should the legacy of the West Indian reign during the 1980s and 1990s be when we look back at the tactics employed by Clive Lloyd and Viv Richards? Should we view the West Indian era with fondness and say "well played", or agree with David Frith and call their reign a 'golden chance' 'squandered'?

    Also, and slightly off topic - how would Bradman have faired if he played all his cricket between 1980-1993 rather than 1928-38, 1946-48? During the Bodyline series Bradman averaged 56.57 and made the following string of scores: 0-103-8-66-76-24-48-71. I think that he would have made his usual big scores against England and the other lesser teams, but it is a reasonable assumption that he would have averaged around 56 against the West Indian fast bowlers. After all, as David Frith points out, there was not a lot of difference between that offered-up by Douglas Jardine and the tactics employed by Clive Lloyd or Viv Richards - "Same horse, different jockey" as they say.
    This is a divisive issue on this site, and one that I have tried to avoid getting drawn into because of the responses that invariably follows.
    There is little similarity in quality between the body line attack of Larwood and Voce and the great attacks of the W.I and Australia of the '70's, '80's or even Bradman's own Invincible's attack of '48, but it was the closest that the great man, and he was without doubt great the greatest batsman to have lived and played the game, came to facing what could be deemed a comparable attack to those of later eras. Even then it wasn't just a matter of same horse different rider, as Marshall, Lillee, Holding, Roberts, Garner, Ambrose, Lindwall, Miller et al were surely much finer thoroughbred tandems.
    Body line was a series, what happened thereafter was the an era and it was relentless especially from the '70's up onto the early 2000's. To say Bradman would have managed to cope would be stating the obvious, to suggest that he would prosper in such an era to the extent of his existing average is much less so.
    The two teams that Bradman actually averaged over 100 against were India and South Africa and Everton Weekes also averaged over 100 vs that same Indian attack, but was found wanting (though if accounts are to believed partially owing to Injury and illness) to Lindwall and Miller and later to the likes of Trueman in England. Once again this is not to suggest that would have suffered a similar fate, he more than likely would have again flourished, but to what extent.
    As Watson pointed out in another thread, Morris excelled vs that English attacks immediately after the war, was his numbers steeply declined as those attacks matured and got better as did the 3W's performances for the most part, especially in England.
    As Fredfertang consistently points out in defense of Larwood, he played in an era of flat pitches (that discouraged and eliminated a generation of Australian test quicks until after the War), especially in Australia and a restrictive LBW rule that dampened his effectiveness and only really in Bodyline was he at his test best and he was disposed of immediately after and if I am not mistaken just before the changing of those rules.
    It would have been spectacular and interesting to see Bradman face bowlers of different eras. But who knows we may have and just too blinded by averages, official tests or perceived attitude to have noticed or appreciated.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member fredfertang's Avatar
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    Frith always did have a downer on the West Indies bowling method of choice in the 70s and 80s - I can see his point but I can't agree with him - a great fast bowler going at full tilt is one of the most compelling sights in the game - I still remember the hairs on the back of my neck standing up as I watched Michael Holding and Wayne Daniel trying to blast Closey and John Edrich out that Saturday evening in '76 - it was compelling stuff - would I have enjoyed watching Albert Padmore and Raphick Jumadeen bowling instead? Like **** I would

    Bull Alexander (the quick bowler called up to bowl bouncers (badly) at England in the last Test in 32/33 said half a century later words to the effect of "a bowler has a ball and a batsman has a bat - if he hits you for four everyone says what a mug you are - if you hit him ....... well ........ that's the game isn't it?"

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    I dunno about everyone else but the WI of the 80's were more admired amongst my friends and rele's than the Aussies.... The hilarious part of all this, though, is that when the Aussies were winning everything a few years back, people would look nostalgically back at the WI of the 80's and remark at what gentlemen they were, conflating post-retirement grace with how they played.

    From what I saw, they were hard ****s. The WI of that era were not just naturally gifted, the limitations of that can be seen in the post-90's WI team where there's been plenty of talent but far fewer notches in the W column. They weren't just vicious brutes because they were admired and respected by many of their opponents. Instead, you really had a couple of generations of cricketers who were total pro's, with attitudes and all-wicket techniques forged in tough summers at home and winters in England. Natural athletes with no understanding of how the game works don't shorten their run-ups and bowl cutters like Marshall and Holding did, for example. They were really smart operators. Putting down their success to just bouncing the crap out of everyone does noone any favours, them nor the guys they played against.

    I honestly believe there's more than a hint of racism in some peoples' perspectives of that era.
    Last edited by Top_Cat; 03-11-2013 at 01:37 AM.
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    Some ball-by-ball of Malcolm Marshall showing off his utter brutality as a bowler.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XSV9VPKHSzg

    A hail of bumpers this spell.

    EDIT: **** me, how out were some of those shouts? Surprised Swampy had any pad left with Marshall knocking on his front door every second ball.
    Last edited by Top_Cat; 03-11-2013 at 02:28 AM.

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    International Debutant harsh.ag's Avatar
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    I honestly think that this is not about racism or being unfairly picky on the Windies attack. The same experts love Viv and Sobers. What I think this is about is that history had never seen a pack of four bowlers executing such an aggressive strategy so successfully with so much skill (I am not agreeing with the "they only bowled short-pitched stuff" theory, but generalizing their whole strategy as being an aggressive one). Earlier, in the case of Larwood & Co., or Lindwall-Miller, or Lillee-Thomson, the other bits of the attack were safer, and easy(ier) runs could be made of them. The fact that there was no respite whatsoever may have been the sticking point for people like Frith and Benaud. I disagree with them, but I think this is where they are coming from (I may be wrong, of course).

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    I think you're wrong but mainly because (I assume) you've never lived in Australia. The same experts love Viv now. When he was playing, Viv was bagged regularly for everything down to how he walked to the middle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Top_Cat View Post
    I think you're wrong but mainly because (I assume) you've never lived in Australia. The same experts love Viv now. When he was playing, Viv was bagged regularly for everything down to how he walked to the middle.
    Yeah, if you have a watch of the extras on the "Fire in Babylon" DVD, it's pretty clear that Frith didn't, and still doesn't, have a very high opinion of Viv Richards. He certainly seemed to enjoy grumbling about Richards' wearing of the Rastafarian colours on his arm band.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bahnz View Post
    Yeah, if you have a watch of the extras on the "Fire in Babylon" DVD, it's pretty clear that Frith didn't, and still doesn't, have a very high opinion of Viv Richards. He certainly seemed to enjoy grumbling about Richards' wearing of the Rastafarian colours on his arm band.
    Yeh, that's a bizarre little outburst from Frith (who is normally pretty level headed and decent).

    Seems to take big issue with Viv's rasta stuff. And from what I remember, it was never something Viv was in people's face about...

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    Viv caught a ton of heat about the Rasta thing at home, let alone from foreign journos.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kyear2 View Post
    This is a divisive issue on this site, and one that I have tried to avoid getting drawn into because of the responses that invariably follows.
    There is little similarity in quality between the body line attack of Larwood and Voce and the great attacks of the W.I and Australia of the '70's, '80's or even Bradman's own Invincible's attack of '48,

    Everton Weekes also averaged over 100 vs that same Indian attack, but was found wanting (though if accounts are to believed partially owing to Injury and illness) to Lindwall and Miller and later to the likes of Trueman in England. Once again this is not to suggest that would have suffered a similar fate, he more than likely would have again flourished, but to what extent.
    As Watson pointed out in another thread,

    As Fredfertang consistently points out in defense of Larwood, he played in an era of flat pitches (that discouraged and eliminated a generation of Australian test quicks until after the War), especially in Australia and a restrictive LBW rule that dampened his effectiveness .
    The WI attack has been cricket's best in my and just about everyone else's opinion. The English attack pre war bore greater resemblance than the "little" you credit it. Statistically it was superior than the Pak and SA attacks of the 80s and 90s. Remove Bradman's contribution and it equates to the Aust attack of the same period.

    Everton Weekes had to cope with alot of sub standard pitches. Change the setting and it was he who would have the duels with the bowlers mentioned.

    Australia's pitches pre war were true but fast. Pace men had success there. It was the English pitches that were dead in that era. Therefore the condition of our pitches back then had nothing to do with our pace bowling shortage. Our pitches slowed in the 40s yet that didn't prevent the emergence of Lindwall and Miller. Or Johnston.

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