Harold Larwood, the Bodyline bowler, is remembered by many owing to his controversial cricket career. Larwood played a major part in the 1932-33 Ashes controversy and that majorly overshadowed his cricket career. There is no doubt to the fact that Larwood was the most lethal fast and intimidating fast bowler of his era. While almost everyone is aware of the Ashes Bodyline controversy, let’s have a look at some of the lesser-known facts about Larwood on his death anniversary.
A competent batsman: Apart from being a ferocious fast bowler, Larwood was a competent batsman too. One of the best performances of Larwood with the willow came during the last Test match of the Ashes 1932-33 at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Promoted as a night-watchman, Larwood impressed with his temperament and valiance. The UK-born scored a massive 98 runs. The 98-run knock by Larwood was the highest score by an English night-watchman till Alex Tudor scored 99 not out in 1999.
First contract with Nottinghamshire: Larwood kickstarted his cricket career with Nottighmashire as the county signed him up. However, the conditions laid out in the contract weren’t ideal neither was the pay well as the seamer earned a mere 32 shillings a week (INR 22.07). Also, Larwood wasn’t given any sick leaves or travel expenses.
Phil Mead’s hilarious comment: There’s a hilarious story attached to the birth of Larwood’s first daughter June. Larwood was playing a game against Hampshire at Trent Bridge in June 1928 when he was informed of the birth of his daughter. The news came via telegram and the seamer read it while fielding. When the Nottinghamshire skipper Arthur Carr reprimanded Larwood against reading messages during the game, the veteran happily announced that he has become a father to a baby girl.
The same was followed by Larwood causing carnage on the field as he dismissed Alexander Hosie, Lewis Harfield, and Percy Lawrie in four balls. Phil Mead, who walked back to the pavilion unbeaten at 89 jokingly thanked God for not making Larwood a father of twins.
A tragic end to the international career: While the controversial Bodyline series garnered a lot of headlines, it was Larwood who faced the most consequences. After a horrific experience due to the bodyline bowling, Australia threatened to cancel the next Ashes series in 1934. To calm the situation, England promised that no bodyline would be bowled while making the skipper Douglas Jardine and Larwood the scapegoats.
In addition, the authorities asked Larwood to sign an apology letter for bowling bodyline. The veteran refused to do so and thus he could never play for England again.