Harold Larwood was born on 14, November 1904 in the village of Nuncargate in Nottinghamshire. Not many bowlers troubled Don Bradman and other legends still caused him genuine concern. Harold Larwood was the one who did. Like the very best express bowlers, there was a lot more to Larwood than an extreme pace.
In his case, he had one of the most vicious break-backs in the game. At times he makes the ball come back so much that he is almost unplayable,’ said Wisden of Larwood when he was still at quite an early stage of his career. The great accuracy and speed were his natural phenomena.
Judging purely by Bradman’s scores in his first two series against England. It is not immediately apparent that Larwood caused him much of a problem at all. Larwood was England’s match-winner in Bradman’s first Test at Brisbane in 1928. He has taken 6 for 32 as Australia was skittled for mere 122 runs in the first innings and two more wickets in the second, but although he failed twice, Bradman did not get out to him either time.
Indeed, it was not until the final Test of the 1930 series in England in which Sir Donald Bradman shattered so many records that Larwood took his wicket. But what the scorebooks do not reveal is that Larwood and the rest of the England players were convinced he had. Sir Don Bradman was caught behind off a short ball before he had scored the first of his 334 runs at Headingly.
A snick Harold Larwood said could be heard all over the ground – and that Larwood’s short-pitched bowling severely discomfited Bradman during the Oval Test. Bradman brilliantly scored 232, hitting him in the chest and on the wrist. It was this that led directly to Douglas Jardine’s adoption of Bodyline tactics in Australia in 1932–33. In Harold Larwood, Jardine believed he had the means to keep Bradman quiet.
Harold Larwood was not quite 5ft 8in height but with a superb sprinting run-up he was able to generate great pace off the ground while remaining highly accurate. Douglas Jardine thought that if Larwood was instructed to bowl like this on the line of Bradman’s body. Or the body of anyone for that matter, with a packed leg-side field, then run-scoring would be very difficult.
And he was proved right! scoring runs off Larwood was very difficult. Bodyline tactics were not in fact adopted on all occasions. But Larwood dismissed Bradman four times in the four Tests in which he played, as well as twice more in a warm-up match. Bradman got past 50 only once in those six innings and was bowled three times.
It was one of the most sustained periods of success any bowler ever enjoyed against Bradman. Larwood took 33 wickets in the series before hobbling from the field during the final Test with a foot injury. Although he never bowled as quickly again because of that injury, which forced him to miss most of the 1933 season, he would certainly have played for England again had not MCC been so eager to appease the feelings of the Australians, who felt Bodyline was unacceptable.
Ahead of the next series in England in 1934, MCC effectively made it a proviso of his selection that he should apologize for his part in Bodyline. Although, he completely admirably – and refused, insisting he had done nothing wrong. That Larwood’s Test career was over before he turned 30 was a personal tragedy. But there was something heroic in his refusal to publicly express regret over something in which he felt only pride.
His bowling in that series had been astonishingly good and the Australians – Bradman apart perhaps – had no personal issue with Larwood, even those such as Bill Woodfull and Bert Oldfield who were injured by him. As fast bowlers do, Larwood rose fast. Emerging from a mining community at Nuncargate near Nottingham.
He played his first match for Nottinghamshire at the age of 19. Therefore, within two years he had sealed his Test selection by bowling Jack Hobbs twice in a county match and England captain Arthur Carr. That who also happened to be his county captain, during a Test trial. In his second match for England, he helped them regain the Ashes with six wickets in a famous victory at The Oval in 1926.
For the next ten years, Larwood was a scourge of county players who found the prospect of facing him from one end. While the left-arm Bill Voce from the other end. However, Bill Voce was another member of Jardine’s Bodyline attack. As perhaps their least comfortable appointments of the summer. Larwood took 80 wickets at 18.43 when Nottinghamshire claimed the championship in 1929 but that was one of his more expensive years.
He has been widely acknowledged greatest fast bowler of that time. If any technology at that time, he would have been easily measured to bowl between 90 to 100 mph. One of the Australian cricketing generations, Ernie Jones said; “Larwood wouldn’t knock a dint in a pound of butter on a hot day”.
A 5ft and 7in short sidearm fast bowler, with a smooth and soundless approach. Jack Hobbs faced Larwood many times in county cricket matches, he thought! one of the most accurate and speedy bowlers he has ever faced. Australian fast bowler Ray Lindwall was very much influenced by Larwood’s bowling action.
In one of his 1990 interviews, he said, I never intended to hit batsman’s head, I always tried to hit batsman rib to unsettle them. Larwood was extremely lethal and speedy on his day, as Reg Sinfield, Patsy Hendren, and H.B. Cameron was badly hit in the field and laying unconscious. However, many batsmen were bruised and suffered minor fractures.
Harold Larwood had topped the national bowling averages in 1927 and 1928 with figures of 16.95 and 14.51! Larwood did so again in 1931 and 1932 when his wickets cost only 12.03 and 12.86 respectively. Even as late as 1936, when he took 100 wickets in a season for the eighth and last time, his average was again under 13. These figures bear eloquent testimony to his destructive capabilities, as does the fact that more than half his 1,427 first-class victims were bowled.
The irony of Larwood’s story is that in retirement he emigrated to Australia, the place where he had been such a figure of opprobrium, and lived there contentedly while counting former opponents such as Jack Fingleton, Woodfull, and Oldfield among his friends. He was belatedly and rightly recognized by his own country with an MBE in 1993 when he was 88 years old. His father Robert Larwood was a rigid miner and he was fourth on the list of his five sons. Harold Larwood died on 22 July 1995 in New South Wales at the age of 90.
Overall, he appeared in 21 Test matches for England, scored 485 runs at 19.40 with a career-best of 98, and credited with 78 wickets at 28.35 with the best of 6 for 32. Moreover, in 361 matches scored 7,290 runs at 19.91 with the best of 102* including three hundred and 23 fifties and 234 catches. So, in these first-class matches, he has taken1427 wickets with the best of 9 for 41 including 98 times five wickets an innings and 20 wickets in a match. He would have remained in the heart of cricket history. Source: Wikipedia