The Nottinghamshire bowler Harold Larwood was his country's chief weapon in the notorious 1932-3 Ashes tour, during which England's fast bowlers used so-called 'Bodyline' tactics to counter the threat posed by the great Australian batsman Don Bradman.
Larwood's pace and hostility left Australia's batsmen battered, reduced Bradman to the status of mere mortal - and brought England a 4-1 series victory.
But the fury it engendered brought Anglo-Australian relations to the brink of collapse. After the series Larwood was used as a scapegoat by the MCC, which demanded he apologise for his intimidatory bowling.
Arguing that he had simply obeyed the instructions of his captain Douglas Jardine, Larwood refused.
He never played for England again. Frustrated and depressed, in 1953 he was encouraged to emigrate to Australia by some of the same men he had played against and injured in 1932-3.
The saga of Bodyline has been told before, but Larwood's own tale, particularly his attitude to the 1932-3 series and his shoddy treatment by the establishment there-after, has not. Using materials provided by Larwood's family, Duncan Hamilton charts the peaks and troughs of Larwood's life: from his mining village upbringing, through his rise to stardom, the shock of Bodyline and its traumatic aftermath, to his emigration to Sydney, where he and his family found happiness.
Hamilton examines what his story tells us about issues of class and social standing in early 20th-century Britain, and about the codes and hierarchies that existed in a game that distinguish-ed rigidly between public-school amateurs and working-class professionals A thrilling and moving recreation of the triumph, betrayal and redemption of a working-class hero and forgotten titan of English cricket, Harold Larwood will enthral and delight not only cricket fans, but all those who relish biographical writing of the highest quality.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 352 pages, Illustrations
- Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc
- Publication Date: 02/07/2009
- Category: Biography: sport
- ISBN: 9781847249494
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Review by SChant
A chatty and entertaining read giving insights into the great man and of course the "bodyline" series and his appalling treatment afterwards. A bit sentimental in places but overall very enjoyable