On This Day in 1933: The Bodyline Series Reaches Its Climax

It was the infamous Bodyline Series between Australia and England in 1933 and it had reached its peak in the third Test at the Adelaide Oval. England, led by the astute, shrewd and controversial Douglas Jardine, had won the first Test at the SCG by 10 wickets. Don Bradman returned in the second Test at the MCG and scored a brilliant hundred in the second innings helping Australia draw level the series.

It was the third Test in Adelaide and the tension was palpable. It was an Ashes war! England ended day 1 at 236 for the loss of 7 wickets with a great fightback from the middle order. Maurice Leyland top-scored with 83 and there were half-centuries from Bob Wyatt and Eddie Paynter. Tim Wall returned with 5 wickets for Australia as England were bowled out for 341 on day 2. Australia ended the day at 109 for 4. Harold Larwood had got the big wicket of The Don for just 8. He also dismissed the great Stan McCabe for the same score. The home team had been reduced to 51 for 4 with Bill Ponsford and Vic Richardson in the process of resurrecting the innings.

Sunday, the 15th of January was the rest day.

No one expected what followed on the bloody Monday – the 16th of January, 1933! It was the worst day of the Bodyline series. More than 32000 spectators turned out at the Adelaide Oval on Day 3. There was a massive uproar in the media with revelations of the conversation between the Australia captain Bill Woodfull and Pelham Warner, the MCC manager on Saturday. There was massive police deployed outside the ground. Bert Oldfield, the Australian wicket-keeper was struck on the head by Larwood and had to retire hurt. The crowd got vocal and the atmosphere more intense. There was tension, more tension and the pressure-cooker was about to explode.

The police encircle the boundary and reinforcements were put on standby. Jardine, not one to be left behind, consciously moved to field to the boundary but was forced to return after being pelted with fruits. Meanwhile, Ponsford top-scored for Australia for 85 but the tail caved in and the home team were bowled out for 222. Gubby Allen returned with 4 wickets while Larwood grabbed three. England had a big first innings lead.

Day 3 ended with England on 85 for 1 with Jardine unbeaten on 24. It was the day that defined the Bodyline series!

The visitors went on to score a massive 412 in the second innings setting Australia 532. Barring fifties from Woodfull and Bradman the remainder of the Australian line-up crumbled under pressure and the home team was bowled out for 193 giving England victory by 338 runs and with it a 2-1 lead in five-match series. Larwood and Allen picked 4 wickets each in the second innings.

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