The question I want to answer today is: just how mad was Douglas Jardine?
Among the assortment of dubious ties and suspicious socks, I was given a book for Christmas that can finally answer that question. The Game of Cricket by “Many Authorities” include some interesting and bonkers essays by a D. R. Jardine, former England captain.
Jardine, of course, is famous for trying to maim and kill as many Australians as possible in the ultimately successful Bodyline campaign.
Donald Bradman, for instance, had a promising career ahead of him, before Jardine personally took the new ball and beat “that little bastard” to death with it.
This is a laudable aim. The Antipodes is an area apt for a little culling here and there. Fine. Worthy of an MBE, etc. etc.
However, where I lose track of Jardine’s murderous thought-process is the introduction of organised slaughter into a game to which my Swedish friend refers to, “that game Englishmen play on the lawn, like croquet or bowls”. Although, ending your neighbour’s days is a novel way of livening up afternoon tea.
To quote the former England captain directly, he suggests some reforms to improve the sport:
“There is nothing wrong with cricket if by cricket we mean the body generally; certain limbs need pruning … both in the quantity and duration in and at which it is played to-day may need reform.”
The “limbs” to which he referred were soon amputated in Brisbane Distract Hospital, after he ordered his silly mid-on to gnaw off appendages of strong front-foot players.
For some reason, maybe he was too clever or something, the Australian public didn’t take to this giant man. He received much unfair criticism from the crowds. He waves off such foolishness with the typical aplomb inherent in every non-Ian Botham Englishman:
“Cricket when all is said and done is a game for twenty-two people, and no game that I know of, unless community singing be a game, is improved by thirty or forty thousand people endeavoring to take part in it.”
Quite so, old bean. Well said. Kill them all, I say. Damned natives.
Of course, no Bodyline blog would be complete without my second favourite exchange in cricketing history:
"They don't seem to like you very much over here, Mr Jardine." Jardine replied, "It's f$#king mutual."
And on that spirit of anti-Australianness, let me leave you a little riddle:
Q: What’s the difference between Australia and a pot of yoghurt?
A: If you leave the yoghurt long enough, it’ll eventually grow its own culture.
(J Webb, to be referred hereforth as The Atheist, has this to say about himself : I used to flail predictable leg-spinners at batsman on TwickenhamGreen. Then they used to smash me for six. This dynamic was repeated many times. Now I hide behind words, where the pain of the constant tonking can’t hurt me, and where only lawyers attempt sneaky singles. Now, I have developed into the wizard spinner of written cricket; an unplayable googly in words. I have become blog, destroyer of careers. )