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.
If you love cricket and are intrigued by the "Bodyline" test series then I expect you have already bought this title and have loved it as much as I have. But even if you are not a fan of the game you should consider this book. Duncan Hamilton's writing captures both the man and the times in which he lived to perfection. Larwood is clearly Hamilton's hero and by the end of the book I suspect he will be yours too. The character traits that made Larwood the best bowler in the world and also contributed to his downfall - single-mindedness, personal humility and sheer hard work - are beautifully drawn. You can almost smell the sweat in the changing rooms and feel the fear of the incoming batsman as Larwood flew into bowl. It shows how the world of sport has changed beyond recognition. How many county bowlers would be prepared to walk seven miles to the county ground, bowl all day and then walk back again? The text is wonderfully served by Alex Jennings who captures the class-ridden world of 1920' and 1930's cricket perfectly with his voice characterisation. I cannot recommend this recording enough.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
I listened to this book over the course of 2 night shift and was annoyed everytime someone spoke to me.
This is a 1st class book, well written, and well read.
The story of a quiet man who just wanted to enjoy playing cricket, if only life was that simple.
Both touching and amusing if you like cricket history you will love this book.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What made the experience of listening to Harold Larwood the most enjoyable?
Way above the average cricket book. A study in human nature and all that is good in a man.
What does Alex Jennings bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?
Alex is superb, his voices have just the right resonance and variety for this book
If you made a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?
Study in human nature
If you could sum up Harold Larwood in three words, what would they be?
Principled, Stubborn, Right
What other book might you compare Harold Larwood to, and why?
How can one compare a biography?
Have you listened to any of Alex Jennings’s other performances? How does this one compare?
No I haven't but I shall now
Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?
No, I wanted it to last longer than it did.
Any additional comments?
So much that one could say, but if you are remotely interested in the history of cricket, you simply must read or listen to this book.