1932-33: Bodyline divides two nations
Lucky was the young sheep-station owner, Ian McLachlan senior, who spent the Sunday after Bodyline's fever-pitch Adelaide Saturday in the company of Douglas Jardine and others. A beach excursion to Victor Harbour; that night, McLachlan and Jardine roomed together. "It's going to muck up cricket," said McLachlan, as lights went out, "because you're going to have cricketers playing in things like baseball masks."
"Oh, don't be silly, laddie."
Bumper bombardments and throat-side field settings did not become the new normal, nor did baseball masks (nor, yet, helmets). Spin bowling survived as cricket's guileful art. Even Don Bradman - as exotic as a nine-legged octopus, his fast yet failsafe 1930 mega-scoring having triggered Bodyline's genesis - half-faltered only briefly. He put ointment on his bruises and for the rest of his days averaged 100.12.
What lingered was psychological, a suspicion of the English gentleman, a sense that, while Australians wish to win, the English will break bones / rules / morality to win, a slow-blooming independence. Australia's ride through our current decade's economic travails is something Treasurer Wayne Swan attributes partly to "an enduring determination for our country never again to be at the whim of anyone". That determination's cause, Mr Treasurer? "I believe, Bodyline." CHRISTIAN RYAN
From Wisden 1933: Notes by the Editor (Stewart Caine)
The ball to which such strong exception is being taken in Australia is not slow or slow-medium but fast. It is dropped short and is alleged in certain quarters to be aimed at the batsman rather than at the wicket. It may at once be said that, if the intention is to hit the batsman and so demoralise him, the practice is altogether wrong - calculated, as it must be, to introduce an element of pronounced danger and altogether against the spirit of the game of cricket. Upon this point practically everybody will agree. No one wants such an element introduced. That English bowlers, to dispose of their opponents, would of themselves pursue such methods, or that Jardine would acquiesce in such a course, is inconceivable.
To the abuse of this Law may fairly be traced the trouble which has arisen in Australia during the tour now in progress. In suggesting, as has the Australian Board of Control, that bowling such as that of the Englishmen has become a menace to the best interests of the game, is causing intensely bitter feelings between players and, unless stopped at once, is likely to upset the friendly relations between England and Australia, the Commonwealth cricket authorities seem to have lost their sense of proportion. The idea that a method of play to which, while often practised in the past by Australian as well as English bowlers, no exception had been taken in public could jeopardise the relations of the two countries, appears really too absurd.
From Wisden 1934: The MCC team in Australasia
Suffice it to say here that a method of bowling was evolved - mainly with the idea of curbing the scoring propensities of Bradman - which met with almost general condemnation among Australian cricketers and spectators and which, when something of the real truth was ultimately known in this country, caused people at home - many of them famous in the game - to wonder if the winning of the rubber was, after all, worth this strife.