Don Bradman had aggregated a staggering 974 runs in the 1930 Ashes and taken Australia to a 2-1 away series win in England. To counter the great Don, England, under the leadership of Douglas Jardine with a pace unit led by Harold Larwood, decided to bowl 'leg theory' or 'Bodyline' on their tour to Australia in 1932-33.
Bradman missed the series opener at the SCG which England won by 10 wickets. The highlight for Australia was Stan McCabe's brilliant 187 off just 233 deliveries in the first innings. Larwood returned with 10 wickets in the match though he did not resort to much 'Bodyline' stuff in the match. Interestingly, Nawab of Pataudi Sr, the father of Tiger Pataudi, playing for England (MCC) registered a hundred in the match.
Bradman registered a match-winning second innings' hundred in the second Test at the MCG scoring 103 of his team's total of 191. Australia went on to win the match by 111 runs and levelled the series.
The third Test at the Adelaide Oval was unarguably the most controversial, unpleasant and tense Test match in the history of the sport. There was police outside the stadium, 'Bodyline' was openly employed by Jardine, the two cricket boards were almost at war and the matter finally had to be deliberated in cabinet meetings in London with both the governments actively involved. England went on to win by a massive 338 runs.
The negative intimidation tactics worked and England regained the Ashes beating Australia by 6 wickets in Brisbane. They made it 4-1 by registering an 8-wicket win in the final Test at Sydney.
Such was his greatness that despite the series scoreline and the Bodyline stuff, Bradman still managed to score 396 runs in 4 Tests at an average of 56.57 including a hundred and 3 fifties. He was the third-highest scorer of the series.
Larwood was the highest wicket-taker of the series with 33 wickets in 5 Tests at an average of 19.51 and strike rate of 40.
It was a historic series that changed the shape of Test cricket forever.
It all started on the 2nd of December, 1932 at the SCG!