Bodyline (1984–…): Season 1, Episode 2 - Episode #1.2 - full transcript

Hold the door, sport. Pardon?

Oh, yes. Allow me.

You're P.G.H. Fender, aren't you?
That's right.

Saw you get done in '21.

Clive Cooper's the name.

Sydney. Call me Chook.

Pleased to meet you... Chook.

This is Clive Cooper

with a report of the first Test
between England and Australia,

held at Brisbane Oval on November 30.

Australia lost the toss and English
skipper Chapman decided to bat.

Australian skipper Ryder led
his team onto the field,

which included Bill Woodfull
- surely a future captain,

Bill Ponsford, Ironmonger,

great bowler Clarrie Grimmett,

Vic Richardson,

wicket-keeper Bert Oldfield,

and Don Bradman,

a young man making his Test debut

who I believe holds the future of
Australian cricket in his hands.

November 30, 1928, Brisbane.

The first day of the first Test.

England batted first, led
by Herbert Sutcliffe.

The English batsmen immediately set about
destroying the Australian bowling.

Hour after hour, the score mounted.

Sutcliffe, 38. Hammond, 44.

Hendren, a mighty 169.

Chapman, 15. Hobbs, 49.

Tate, 26.

And Larwood, a commendable 70.

Douglas Jardine, making his
debut in Test cricket,

scored a creditable 35,

helping take England to a
remarkable first-innings score

of 521.

Australia's morale, already shaken
by England's score, plummeted

as Larwood the wrecker
went about his work.

Woodfull, caught brilliantly
by Chapman for a duck,

Ponsford, bowled for 2,

and Kippax, caught for 16.

The young Australian
batsman Don Bradman,

about whom so much has been
written in this country,

did not live up to the high hopes which
many so-called experts held for him -

lbw for 18.

We once again witness the phenomenon

of a young man burning
bright but ever so brief

as he passes across the cricketing sky.

How's that?!

Australia were all out for 122,

giving England a massive,
unbelievable lead of 399 runs.

En route to Sydney.

The English team left Brisbane with a
resounding victory to their credit.

In their second innings,

the tourists went from
strength to strength

and Australia stared
defeat in the face.

If they're going to
contain this English team

in the second Test in Sydney,

the Australian selectors will have to
make radical changes to their side.

Radical change? Drop Bradman.

It's a bloody disgrace.

Bullet in the head's a radical change.

He's got more talent than
all of us put together.

They couldn't make the
same mistake again.

Hang around.

Australia have lost the
second Test in Sydney,

and little wonder,

given what must be one of the worst
decisions ever made by the selectors

in the history of Test cricket.

The decision to drop Don
Bradman from the batting line

destroyed their chances

and lowered the morale of
the whole Australian team.

Another victory for England
in the second Test.

However, the on-field tactics of the
English skipper, A.P.F. Chapman,

are cause for serious concern.

He insists on using Harold
Larwood as a stock bowler

instead of for his shock value.

Still, success follows success.

The Australians are finding
our bowlers unbeatable,

our batsmen unstoppable.

Well, you'll be delighted
to hear, Chook,

the selectors have decided to
give this Bradman of yours

a second chance.

That calls for a beer.

Oh, I don't think that'll
do much good, old son.

You reckon?



He's on his way to the wicket.

Huh! He split his bat!


Nervous 90s.

Nice one.

Eight months short of
his 21st birthday,

Don Bradman has become
the youngest player

ever to score a century
in a Test match.

England won this match
in the 1928-29 series,

but in Bradman, Australia
undoubtedly has the keystone

around whom the team of the
next generation will be built.

And so, after an absence
of almost six months,

the English team came home.

It was a glorious
morning late in spring,

and what a welcome they got.

For they were the victors,

defeating Australia four Tests to one,

retaining the Ashes

and proving yet again that in
cricket, as in most things,

England reigned supreme.

Congratulations, Douglas. You've
acquitted yourself admirably.

Thank you, my lord.

Come and tell me all the details
of these centuries of yours.

I'm so proud.

We may need these.

Oh. Today will evoke a thousand
memories for Plum Warner.

Hello! How delightful to see you.

Hello, dear Plum! Dear lady.

- Ah. Congratulations, my dear fellow.
- Ah.

Splendid tour. First-rate
batting average.

Your parents must be very proud.
Thank you.

Percy George has just been
telling me about young Bradman.

Oh, yes. He's quite remarkable.


That's not what Percy was saying.

I think I'm about to be misquoted.

Excuse me.

I've spent weeks trying to persuade
him, but he still can't see the truth.

And what truth is that, Douglas?

Well, like most batsmen,

I can play one or perhaps two
shots to any given ball,

whereas Bradman can choose
between four or five.

Oh, he doesn't choose!

He just plays the first shot
that comes into his head.

But he has no technique.

Now, he can get away with this on
those true, hard Australian pitches.

But put him on one of our green strips,
with Maurice seaming the ball late...

Oh, no. He's too unorthodox.

Uh, take the third Test in Melbourne...

Oh, not that again. It's a
very good example, Douglas.

Now, on at least three occasions,

the ball was short-pitched,
screaming out to be hooked.

He played a cover drive.
Oh, that's absurd.

No, it's not absurd.

At least two of those
balls went for four.

That's the power of Bradman.

He's learned that a batsman's
sole objective is to score runs,

and he'll play whatever
shot, unorthodox or not,

which best fulfils that purpose.

It makes it almost impossible
to set a field to him.

Well, I'm sorry, old chap, but
I think you're on your own.

Well, the skipper agrees with Percy.

He says Bradman's just
a flash in the pan.

And Tate says that he'll have
to play a straighter bat

if he comes here and plays
on one of our wet wickets.

They're older men, steeped in the
conventional methods of play.

Oh, thank you very much! Bradman
is something totally new.

He's not interested in
playing classic shots.

He's never had any formal training,
so he's developed his own style.

A unique approach.

I believe if he continues to develop,

we could see scores none of
us have ever dreamed of.

He could rewrite the record books.

He could change the very
nature of the game.

Oh, come, come, Douglas. That's
being unnecessarily alarmist.

No batsman in the world
has ever done that.

I must say in fairness

there are hundreds of thousands of
Australians who'd agree with Douglas.

Out there, he's become
quite a celebrity.

It's not a very pleasant sight,

Bradman standing in the middle
of the pitch, bat raised,

the crowd chanting his name.

As a society, they
seem to crave heroes.

Well, I like Australians.

I mean, it's just that
they prize individualism.

Oh, indeed.

They continually want to elevate one
man at the expense of the team.

I find it quite abhorrent.

Well, it's certainly not
the nature of the game.

The heart is the team.

I'm afraid the Australians wouldn't
agree with you there, my lord.

Their whole approach to
cricket is different.

And at times, I wondered

if we were playing the same
game I'd grown up with.

To listen to the crowd, you'd
think it was a... a hunt,

with the English as the fox.

Oh, you'll get used to that. It's
just good-natured barracking.

Well, questioning a man's
parentage is hardly good-natured.

My dear fellow, in Australia, 'bastard'
is almost a term of endearment.

Well, I come from a
different world, thank God.

The Australians are not a
people I'll ever warm to.

Nothing wrong with that.

Always easier to give a
hiding to a man you dislike.

May I interrupt?

I really do feel like a
cricketing widow over there.

Haven't you finished talking
about the game yet?

Not quite.

Mr Fender and I have
something to discuss.

- Do we, my lord?
- Yes.

What's that?


Do I detect a note of indifference
bordering on aversion, my lord?

Now, don't start that banter with me.

I found your report, your... criticisms
of Chapman most distasteful.

Now, it doesn't matter what
your opinion of him is.

He is the English skipper.
He deserves your respect.

It ill behoves you, as a county captain
and a man who's represented England,

to... to disparage his
tactics publicly.

It was an honest opinion.
It was my job to report it.

I am not talking about reporting.
I am talking about loyalty.

That is all I ask of a man.

Not from a journalist, perhaps,

but from a cricketer and a gentleman.

Do you understand?

Oh, I understand. But I don't agree.

Oh, well, I'm not staying here to
argue with you. I've made my point.

But make no mistake -

these things do not go unnoticed.

I never believed they did.

Well, then, why must you
always be giving offence?

Why must you be the tearaway?
Why all this affectation?

Not affectation, my lord.

It's me nature.

I suppose I could be a little more...

But I've always thought diplomacy
a blood brother to hypocrisy.

Honesty is one of the things I
like about Percy George Fender.

He may not be perfect, but at
least I can live with him.

Well, what was all that about?

Oh, nothing much.

My attitude, behaviour, personality.

That's all.


Douglas, there's one thing you
must learn about the lords.

In defeat, they're unbearable.

In victory - insufferable!


Shall we go?


18... 19...






Quack, quack, quack, quack!

Catch it!

How's that?!

It was 1929 - the jazz age,

and our lives spun from one
carefree moment to the next.

Every day we stretched
out our hands further,

trying to gather into our arms all
the glittering prizes of our youth.

And yet there was a
brittleness in our laughter,

a fever to our lives.

It was as if we knew deep
within some recess of our minds

that nothing which ran so
fast could run for long.

Around the world, there was a gathering
darkness waiting to close in.

The greatest depression the
world had ever known -

not only of an economy,
but of men's spirits.

Just as one generation had been
destroyed by the Great War,

so the next was crushed
by the Depression.

One in five people out of
work, industries swept away,

whole towns devastated.

Hunger, rationing and the dole.

For many people, there was one thing

which helped relieve the
misery of their daily lives,

and that thing was sport.

In such a climate,

the Australian Test side arrived
in England in April of 1930.

Among the team were 11 cricketers
making their first overseas tour,

all of them so young

they were immediately christened
in honour of their manager-

'Kelly's Creche'.

By any measure, it would prove
to be a remarkable Test series,

one which those who witnessed
it would never forget.

You see, Don Bradman was about
to rewrite the record book.

It's fine, thanks.

Yeah, same for me, thanks.

Make that three.

Make it seven.


Woody, dear chap. Welcome.
Lovely to see you.

Gentlemen, may I introduce Mr
Percy Fender, skipper of Surrey.

The finest captain never
to have captained England.

Oh, thank you very much, Bill.

Hi, Alan. Percy.

Pleased to see you. Hello. How are you?

Oh, we didn't actually meet in '28.

I feel as though I know you, though.
I've read most of your articles.

Oh, that's more than I have.

Hello. Nice to see you. Hello.

I think you once described
me as a "schoolboy batsman".

Ah! Yes. A journalist's whim.

On the other hand, Douglas
here is a great admirer.

Yes. We met in Brisbane.
Hello, Douglas.

It has led to countless arguments.

I think you're in for a surprise.

Well, we'll see soon enough.

Day after tomorrow.

Surrey has a very good record
against Australian teams.

I think we'll give you
a run for your money.

We look forward to it.

All the best, Bert.

Good luck, Bill. You too, Percy.

Well, Don. How about the
schoolboy giving him a caning?

You've got him in two minds, Percy.

He doesn't know whether to
hit you for a four or a six.

Oh, God!

And what a fool he made of me.

He put every ball exactly
where he wanted -

where it would cause me
the most humiliation.

Oh, don't worry, Percy. It'll
be forgotten in a month.

He's going to destroy
every bowler in the land.

As I said, he's unique. A phenomenon.

Oh, nobody said we weren't warned.

Oh, well done, D.R.

Huh! It's going to be a bleak summer.

It will indeed.

England's only hope is to think
broadly, develop a new strategy-

one aimed solely at curbing Bradman.

Hmm! You think so? I think
our only hope is prayer.

At least God is an Englishman.

Or has that changed too?

Day after day, new records
fell before Bradman's bat.

The youngest batsman to score
2,000 runs in a season.

The fastest century in Test history.

The fastest double century ever.

The highest score ever made in a Test.

It was history in the making.

And on and on it went- this
21-year-old boy from Bowral

driving the English crowds to delight,

the journalists to hyperbole

and the cricketing lords to despair.

Might as well throw stones
at the Rock of Gibraltar.

Perhaps we ought to change the rules -

make the little bugger
bat off a handicap.

All we can do is pray for rain.

Couldn't he be asked
to use a smaller bat?

Thanks to Bradman, English
cricket was in despair.

As Douglas had predicted, he had
succeeded in amassing scores

other people had never even dreamt of.

Worse still, Bradman had
led the Australians -

who had arrived as underdogs -

to victory.

The Ashes were now on
their way to Australia,

where it seemed they would
remain, if not forever,

at least until Bradman gave up cricket.

- How old is he? 21?
- That's right.

Talk about a depression -
another 20 years of Bradman.

Oh, dear God.

And not a bowler to trouble
him, let alone stop him.

Not Tate, not Peebles.

Not even Larwood, Douglas.

Larwood? He heads the casualty list.

Bradman's finished his career.
Thanks, old boy.

There's no profit in talking
about individual bowlers.

That's like waging war and
worrying about an infantryman.

Well, that's who does the fighting.

Yes, but wars are won by generals.

The first thing you need is a strategy.

That's easy to say, old chap.

But I don't think there's a strategy
in cricket to contain Bradman.

Not to contain him. To neutralise him.

Oh, that is preposterous, Douglas.
The boy's a genius.

A perfect combination of...
of reaction, footwork...

Strokemaking. Yes, exactly.
And intelligence.

He's the best batsman in the world.
No doubt.

But the perfect sportsman
hasn't been born yet.

Every athlete has a weakness.

Very comforting, old boy,

but unfortunately, you can't
bowl him out with platitudes.

No, Plum. Or anything else.

We wouldn't listen when Douglas talked
of him rewriting the record books.

Perhaps we should now that
he's talking of a weakness.

I don't claim to know what it
is, but I'm sure it's there.

You have to find it.
That's the first step.

On it can be built a strategy.

Now, no cricketer, no matter how great,

whose skills don't
contribute to that strategy

should be in the English team.

This country led the world
into the industrial age.

What you have to do now is
to design another machine.

A cricketing machine.

A whole team? Designed to beat one man?

Well, I think he's that good.

I can't see it, myself.

Even assuming he has a
chink in his armour.

It would leave you too
weak in other areas.

The best teams have always
contained a diversity of skills.

Now, what Douglas is advocating is
putting all your players in one basket.

I know that, Plum.

But if you don't beat Bradman,
you can't beat Australia.

You've tried bowling him out.
Now you have to think him out.

Ah. Troublesome times, gentlemen.

Yes. Another riot today in Manchester.

Well, little wonder -
unemployment nearly 20%.

I was thinking rather more of Bradman.

Oh, yes. He's a problem too.

Problem? You might just
as well take up tennis.

Come on, now.

You know the British never surrender,
even when their backs are to the wall.

You were secretary of war.
Where's your fight?

Oh, I've got plenty of fight.

But the only way I can
see to get Bradman out

is to send in a couple of battalions.

Well, according to young
Jardine, the infantry is useful,

but wars are won by generals.

What England must have
is a clear strategy.

Go on. That's the sort
of thinking we need.

Well, he says if you can't bowl
Bradman out, you must think him out.

He has this idea of designing an entire
team to exploit Bradman's weakness.

What weakness?

Ah, well, that's where it falls apart.

Jardine's rather like a physicist
talking about the atom.

He's never actually seen it, but
he's absolutely certain it exists.

Now, just don't dismiss it.

If your physicist had done that, the
atom would never have been discovered.

I'm going to see young Jardine.

It's just a theory, really.

I saw him in the last Test at the Oval.

It was a damp wicket. Fading light.

Larwood got up a lot of pace.
The ball was rising sharply.

Bradman started to look uncomfortable.

Well, what batsman wouldn't?

But every time he has faced Larwood,
he has hit him all over the field.


Well, you were right about one thing.

You always said that he would change
the whole nature of the game.

Now we have to find a
whole new approach.

That's the challenge. Who
is there can meet it?

Well, England has some fine skippers.

Bah! Who?

Chapman? Wyatt?

They had their chances this summer.

Yesterday's men playing
yesterday's game.

You know, you have many fine
qualities yourself, Douglas,

both as a man and as a cricketer -

qualities that could
be useful to England.

But as long as you have never
been captain of a county team,

it's rather difficult for
you to be considered.

Yes, I know that, my lord.

Uh, has Fender ever... indicated to you

how long he might remain
as captain of Surrey?

No, my lord. We've never discussed it.

Would he stand down? In your favour?

I don't know. I'd never ask him.
He's my greatest friend.

Not even if it meant a chance
of being captain of England?

No. Not even then.

I'm sorry.

Oh, don't be. No, don't...
don't be, no.

I admire loyalty.

So, what did Lord Almighty Harris want?

He'd been talking to Warner.

He wanted to hear my
thoughts on Bradman.

What did you tell him? Oh, nothing new.

What, is that all?

Well, he congratulated
me on my foresight,

then he rattled on about
India and his childhood.

I think he's lonely.

Well, I'm not surprised,
given his personality.

I'll wait in the car. Yes.
Shan't be a minute.

Good evening.

Oh, good evening, my lord.

Uh, yes. Yes, that would be possible.

No. No, no, no. No trouble.

Well, tomorrow morning at 11:00.


I'm quite sure you don't want to spend
any longer with me than you have to,

so I'll come straight to the point.

If you would, my lord.

Regardless of how good a
cricketer you might be,

I think we both realise that you
will never captain England.

Do we? Why is that?

Because I say so, that's why.

If I might be permitted an observation,
my lord, you are no longer young.

No. No.

But I am sure that the Almighty
would be just as distressed as me

to see you as captain.

I am quite confident he'll leave me
here for as long as I am needed.

And is that the purpose
of this meeting?

For you to inform me of
your...'divine' mission?

I asked you here to talk about Jardine.

He's a contender. A
very strong contender.

Of course, he would first have
to become a county captain.

I believe Nottinghamshire
is looking for someone.

I was thinking of
somewhere closer to home.

Have you spoken to Douglas about this?


He refused to raise it with you.

He has shown great loyalty.

And what do you say?

You speak of God...

but you give me the
devil's alternative.

Good day.

Where the hell have you been?

My apologies. I thought
you'd forgotten.

I'm sorry, Edith. We were about to go.

Don't worry. The table
was booked for 8:00.

I'm sure they will have held it.

Douglas, before we go,
I'd like to have a chat.

If you don't mind? And a drink.

Well... I have spent the day...
in St James's Park.


And the upshot of it is I've
decided to step down at Surrey.


Oh, there comes a time when a
man must think about his life.

His achievements. His successes.
And he must be realistic.

I've sadly neglected the
wine business of late.

And the truth is my best
cricket is behind me.

That's rubbish.

You've been speaking to Lord Harris.

I ran into him.

What did he say?

He rattled on about... India.

His childhood.

I think he's lonely.

Do it, Douglas.

No, I can't. Not like this.

Forget about the circumstances.

If I can't, then nothing would please
me more than to see you have it.

Take it as a gift.

A gift to a dear...

loyal friend.

That night, Douglas
became captain of Surrey.

Within months, he was to achieve
his game's greatest accolade.

He would be named captain of England.

In his campaign to regain the Ashes,

Douglas's weapon would
be Harold Larwood,

his plan - bodyline.

The captain.

The captain.