Bodyline remains and will remain amongst cricket’s bigger controversies.
Douglas Jardine, central to that – drew extreme reactions from the two sides involved.
To the present day, Jardine is remembered throughout much of the cricket world as the architect of what some, particularly in Australia, consider the most vicious premeditated behaviour seen on a cricket field; but the fact remains that these tactics were certainly within the rules of the game at the time and, furthermore, the tactic of intimidating batsmen with bouncers later became commonplace . His reputation remains particularly low in Australia, where respected cricket commentator Alan McGilvray once described Jardine as “the most notorious Englishman since Jack the Ripper“. In a famous incident recorded by the press, Jardine was on the field and trying to brush a persistent fly away from his face when a spectator yelled across the ground, “Leave our flies alone, Jardine! They’re the only flamin’ friends you’ve got here!”
However in England his reputation is as a ruthless, highly determined player and perhaps the first amateur captain with a fully professional attitude. Indeed, Sir Pelham Warner commented “If ever there was a cricket match between England and the rest of the world, and the fate of England depended upon the result, I would pick Jardine as England Captain every time”.
Jardine is also remembered as the originator of what many consider one of the most eloquent descriptions of the sport of cricket: Cricket is battle and service and sport and art.
This photograph is August 1934.
Douglas Jardine, having opted out of the return series, a year after Bodyline, queing outside the Oval for the last Test of the series. He commentated on the match.