Harold Larwood is an England cricketing legend. During the MCC’s notorious 1932–3 Ashes tour of Australia, his ‘Bodyline’ bowling left Australia’s batsmen bruised and battered, halved the batting average of the great Don Bradman – and gave England a 4–1 series victory.
But the diplomatic row that followed brought Anglo-Australian relations to the brink of collapse. Larwood was used as a scapegoat by the MCC, which demanded he apologise for bowling Bodyline. Arguing that he had simply obeyed the instructions of his captain, Douglas Jardine, Larwood refused. He never played for England again.
The Bodyline saga has been told before, but Larwood’s story has not. Using materials provided by the fast bowler’s family, Duncan Hamilton has created an intimate and compelling portrait of Larwood’s life: from his mining village upbringing, through the trauma of 1932–3 and its bitter aftermath, to his emigration to Australia, where he and his family found happiness.
A moving recreation of the triumph, betrayal and redemption of a working-class hero, Harold Larwood will enthral not only cricket fans, but all those who relish biographical writing of the highest quality.
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A wonderful book, superbly read.