Bodyline (1984–…): Season 1, Episode 3 - Episode #1.3 - full transcript

Donald George Bradman.

Born 1908. Son of a carpenter,
from Bowral, in New South Wales.

Son of a carpenter?
It's worth a thought.

An exceptional athlete,

excelling in, uh... tennis,
golf, running, shooting,

ping-pong, marbles,

and, of course, cricket.

His average score in his
first season was 101.

He holds the record for the highest
score in first-class cricket -

452 not out.

The highest score in
Test cricket - 334.

The most number of runs in a day- 309.

The most number of runs
in a series - 975.

And this on foreign soil.

The cold and the damp of
England can't faze him.

And in Australia, when
it's 100 in the shade,

he can score 300 in the sun.

The man is a veritable batting machine.

And still only 23.

If he continues in this fashion,

he will become the most
phenomenal batsman of all time.

Imagine what history will say about
the man who was able to defeat him.

Yes, Percy.

What else do you have?

I need all the information I can get.

His batting averages -
on every type of wicket.

I need to look at every
time he's failed,

see if there's a common element.

We must find his weakness.

Well, assuming he has one.

What we must do first is
talk to some bowlers.

Fast bowlers.

Was there no time you had him worried?

No, Mr Jardine. I bowled fastest
and hardest I could at him.

But he always had my measure.

Well, a couple of our chaps did
try bowling round the wicket

at his leg stump.

Well, that kept down his runs.

Bradman wouldn't have liked that.
No. No, he didn't.

Yes, he likes to make runs, doesn't he?

Thank you, George.

Apart from that, there
was no other time

we had him in the slightest
amount of difficulty at all.

Thank you, George.

Perhaps if you spoke with someone
who bowled at him more often.

Larwood, for instance.

Uh, Harold. You've bowled a
lot of balls to Bradman.

Aye. He hit most of them too.

You know, he scored more runs off
me than anyone in the 1930 series.

He's a fair hand with the bat, alright.

What about the Oval, the last Test?

Well, I'd rather forget that.
He scored 232.

After rain had stopped play,
you were brought back on.

Aye. I got a bit of lift and thought
for a moment I might have him.

Yes, he went through for a suicide run
to get off strike. Do you remember?

Oh, it were the end of the long day.
We'd all had enough.

His concentration had gone.

Well, I thought that he was nervous.

Well, I am fast, Mr Jardine.

Yes, I know, Harold.

Could you just think? Try
to remember each ball.

Well, there was one thing.

Though I didn't pay it
much mind at the time.

When you come in to bowl at Bradman,
there's one thing you always notice.

It sets him apart from other batsmen.

He don't move.

He stands perfectly still.

Well, the fourth or fifth ball...

that last over...

as I came in to deliver, I
noticed him sort of, uh...

moving, sort of...

Edging away?

Nah, I don't know.

I thought I saw his feet move.

But no-one else noticed it.

Did he do it again?

No. After that, he went
straight through for the run.

Sorry, Mr Jardine.

It's not much, but it's the only
time I sensed I had him in trouble.

Thank you, Harold.

That's it! Did you see it?


Play it again.

Now, watch his foot.

Alright. So he moved his foot.

Douglas, you're making
too much of this.

No, Percy, I am not.

Larwood also sensed something.

He said it was the only
time that he detected

any movement from Bradman
before the delivery.

Oh, come, come. All
batsmen move their feet.

I myself have a habit of...
Not Bradman.

Alright. So he moved his foot.

Now, where does that get you?

Come over here.

Oh, just a minute.


Now, the ball pitches short...

and comes at you head-high.

How do you play it?

Well, surely it's obvious. Show me.

On to the back foot,
play it defensively.

Or step inside the line
and dispatch it for four.

Or preferably six.



watch this.

Now, watch his back foot.


Now... you do the same thing.


Here comes a short-pitched ball.

What stroke are you playing?

Well, a bloody awful one.

How would you feel if you played a
stroke like that to a head-high ball?

Nervous. Precisely.

It could be the ball to which
Bradman doesn't have an answer.

What I need are men who can bowl
short, fast and accurately,

ball after ball, hour after hour.

Yes, fast bowlers. As
many as I can get.

It may be what you'd like. It's not
what the selectors will give you.

We'll worry about the selectors later.

Let's see the bowlers first.

In Australia, the weather's hot.

The grounds are hard.

The ball loses its shine early and
won't do what you want it to.

If you want to be in my team,

you will all have to be
fitter than you've ever been.

Swifter than an arrow
from Tartar's bow.

And twice as accurate.

Bowes, what do you think about that?

Oh, aye. It's fine by me.

I'm soon to be married. I
could use the extra money.


Aye. I'd just like a crack at Bradman.


Aye. I'll give it a go.

Come on, my son.

12min 50sec.

Oh, that's fast, isn't it?
Oh, bugger it.

That's three pints you've cost me.

3, 4, 5, 6...

7, 8, 9, 10...

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16...

Harold Larwood! I know it's you!

You're not at wicket now.

10min 50sec.


Lovely. Great.

That'll be 24 pints, lads, thank you.


Bowling a bit short, aren't they?

Oh, just an experiment.

Rather dangerous experiment, if you
ask me. Someone might get hurt.

I say!

Well bowled, Harold.

He's the fastest bowler
on the face of the earth.

Yes. But is he fast enough for Bradman?

It is spin bowling which will
beat Bradman, if anything will.

Especially on Australian wickets.

Nobody has used pace properly.

Well, it's good that you're
thinking broadly, old chap.

But I think you're barking
up the wrong tree.

If I were you, I'd stick
to my spin attack.

So you believe that pace bowling is
the solution to our Bradman problem?

Yes, sir, I do.

Mmm. What does Plum think
of your intentions?

Ah, well, he thinks I'm wrong.

Yes, well, of course, he has
been considering the evidence.

Bradman has been dismissed more
often by spin than by pace.

It's an aberration.

Pace has never been used consistently
as part of an overall strategy.

Well... well, tell me all
about your strategy.

That would be premature. But I
do have particular requirements.

Bradman is an unorthodox batsman.

We must employ unorthodox tactics.

Do you want me to talk
to the selectors?

Well, only should it become necessary.

I merely wanted to inform
you of the state of play.

You learn quickly, Douglas.

There are more games won
off the field than on it.

So Douglas became
obsessed with Bradman,

while 12,000 miles away in Australia,

the boy wonder had become more
than a cricketing phenomenon.

He was now a national celebrity,

the first of a new breed
of sporting heroes -

his publicity value paying huge
dividends for the hero of a nation.

For Bradman, the price of fame was
to be a clash with bureaucracy

which almost resulted in
his giving up cricket

and Douglas Jardine losing the
target of all his battle plans.

The board will see you now, Mr Bradman.

Morning, Don.

Dr Robertson. Do sit down.

Er, you know Mr Jeanes. Morning, Don.

And Mr Oxlade. Don.

Well... thank you for coming in, Don.

The reason we've asked you along
today is that we have a problem.

This... three-way
contract you've signed -

it includes writing for the newspaper.

Yes. Yes, yes.

Well, I'm afraid that is
in direct contravention

of Control Board regulations.

You see, Don, this clause that
Dr Robertson's referring to

specifically states...

The gist of it is... that no player
is allowed to write for a paper

if he's also playing
in the Test matches.

Is it alright for me to do
the sporting promotions?

Oh, certainly, certainly. Of course.

And to continue my radio broadcasts?

There's nothing in the
regulations about broadcasting.

Even though I'll be
commenting on the cricket?

This regulation predates the
introduction of the, uh... wireless.

Now, let me get this straight.

You're saying that I can
promote sports goods

and broadcast cricket
comments on the wireless...

but I can't write about
it in the newspaper?

That's correct, Don.

Well, that is ludicrous.

You must appreciate that we, as the...
watchdogs of Australian cricket,

must ensure some order is maintained.

Only players whose sole occupation is
journalism are exempt from the rule.

And you must appreciate that I am
not qualified for anything else.

And I can't earn a living from
playing cricket in Australia.

My only alternative would
be to take up the offer

to play as a professional in England.

Well, we... we wouldn't want that, Don.

What other choice do I have?

I will not renege on my contract.




Don't come in!

Jessie's trying on her wedding dress.

Jess, I need a letter typed.

Those galahs at the Cricket Board
are making me jump through hoops.

Well, you can't see me in my
wedding dress. It's bad luck.

We won't be long.

Well, I... I'd like it now. I
want to catch the afternoon mail.

The mail, sir.

Thank you, Maude.

From Bowral. Milk?

Or lemon? Milk.

No, no. Uh... lemon.

Bradman's request for
permission to write.

We can't allow any
player to dictate terms.

Cricket is a game for 11 a side,
not a parade of film stars.

This public idolatry of Bradman
threatens the very future of cricket.

You're right, Allen.

Nevertheless, we couldn't
afford to lose him.

Does he make any mention
of the England offer?

Cricket without Bradman would be
like Hamlet without the Dane.

That's a little extreme, surely.

Besides, I don't think Bradman would
be prepared to abandon cricket.

Or move to England.

Anyway, there's no urgency. The
Test series is months away.

I think we can afford
to let him sweat on it.

Well, I think we have it now.

Listen to this.

Allen, Bowes, Voce, Larwood, Tate.

The most formidable array of
fast bowlers ever assembled.

And the batsmen?

Uh, Sutcliffe, Bob Wyatt,
Hammond, Duleep, Leyland.


I've been thinking of
the Nawab of Pataudi.

He's just come down from Oxford.

I hear he's gone home to India.

Yes, but I'm sure he'd love to
come along with us on the tour,

play the black prince in the Antipodes.

And you, Doug the joiner,
shall play the lion's part.

I hope here is a play fitted.

Finalised the team?

Well, it's time to celebrate.

Oh, I knew it was time for something.

I have just the thing.

What on earth are you doing?

Attracting your attention.

Although, perhaps I should
be wearing a cricket pad.

I noticed that there's a blank
space on your dance card, miss.

There's a blank space in my life.


It's the telephone. Yes.

Well, it might be important.

Might be.

Don't bother. I'll get it.


Er, yes, he is.

Oh, I see.

Yes. Yes, I'll tell him.


Why, it was Lord Harris's butler.
Been hunting you all over town.

Wants to see you immediately.

Well, can't it wait till the morning?

Ah, well, the thing is, he may
not be around in the morning.

That's from our very
first Test in India.

Do you remember India, Douglas?

Indeed I do, my lord.

Remember your first cricket bat?

Very well. And who gave it to me.

And I remember a small boy in Bombay

who told me his greatest ambition
was to wear the harlequin cap.

I watched him grow.

I watched him learn the game of empire.

I noted with pride his
captaincy of Winchester.

And when he was chosen to
play for his country...

no-one was happier for you than I.

Then... when you were ready...

I saw to it that you
became captain of England.

I recognised in you something
that nobody else could see.

I saw a man imbued with the
courage of his convictions.

A man who used justice when possible,


severity when necessary.

Douglas, you know and I know that
the time for severity is now.

It'll bring England back to her
rightful place of supremacy

and the Ashes back where they belong.

Now, you can do it. You
are a man of vision.

God knows there are too few of us
left, but, Douglas, don't falter.

Don't let the selectors or the lords
or anyone else obscure that vision.

There are men who will oppose you.

But they are weak men, mean men.

They are frightened of your power.

Now, be hard. Be audacious.

Get out. Get out.

Shall I call the doctor?

That old leech-keeper,
waiting for me to die.

Well, I won't give him
the satisfaction.

Not until you've brought
me back the Ashes.

The night Lord Harris lost his
struggle for life, I lost Douglas.

Before he entered that room,
he was a man with a vision.

When he came out, he was imbued
with a sense of destiny.

There was no stopping him.

I'm sorry, but this is impossible. It
leaves no room for my pace attack.

But these are the recommendations
of your... selection committee.

Yes, sir, but it is I who must lead the
team and determine its strategies.

Yes, but, uh, we know nothing
of these strategies.

As one who has been in my
present position, Plum,

you will appreciate, I'm sure, that
that is the captain's prerogative.


Yes. But as captain, I always
listened to my selection committee.

Are you saying you know better
than Plum? Than all of us?

In this matter, sir, yes, I am.


I could never agree to
this team of yours.

I must support Plum.

Either I lead my team or
I lead no team at all.

You cannot dictate terms to the MCC.

Well, in that case,
my formal resignation

will be in your hands tomorrow.

Good morning, gentlemen.

The lords were caught on
the horns of a dilemma.

Perhaps Douglas could retrieve
the Ashes for them...

but at what cost?

So it was that Plum Warner found
himself summoned by Lord Hawke

to a meeting with the secretary
to the king, Sir Clive Wigram.

His Majesty is quite
fond of young Bradman.

Of course, he would like to see
the Ashes back in England.

It seems Jardine may be
able to accomplish that.

I can't help feeling...

Well... with Jardine as
captain, we may win the Ashes.

But we may also lose a dominion.

We believe we have a remedy for that.

If we send along a
strong team manager...

A man experienced in the
rigours of touring cricket.

And a man loved by the Australians.

So Plum Warner became
watchdog for the tour

and Douglas got his team.

Don! Glad you didn't take up
that England offer, comrade.

Spare a word? Only if
you can keep up, Chook.

Jardine's team...

I've got Jardine's team.

Back page.

"Larwood, Voce, Bowes, Allen, Tate."

Five fast bowlers.
What's he got in mind?

This is the Gaumont British News,

presenting the homeland
to the dominions.

The MCC team leaves England.

Vice-captain Bob Wyatt and
Middlesex fast bowler Gubby Allen

arrive at Southampton docks

to be met by skipper Douglas Jardine
and team manager Plum Warner.

The MCC team is departing for Australia

in an attempt to regain
the Ashes, lost in 1930.

Will they prevail against the
heat and the dust and the flies

and, above all, against the Australian
batting phenomenon Don Bradman?

Allen will form part of a
formidable array of fast bowlers -

men like left-hander Bill Voce

and pride of Nottingham
Harold Larwood -

chatting with Yorkshireman Bill
Bowes, a late addition to the team.

Middle Lancastrian Eddie Paynter
demonstrates his form with the bat.

Wicket-keeper Leslie Ames seems to be
offering valuable hints to Paynter,

who's representing England
abroad for the first time.

In the midst of economic turmoil,

the bonds of empire are
stronger than ever.

Bound for Australia on HMS Orontes

is British government
representative Mr Ernest Crutchley.

To all our far-flung people,

I say let us get together

and keep together and
never drift apart.

We are of one stock. We
share the same ideal.

Let us go forward, side by side,

helping each other
over the rough patches

and sharing the good
things when they come,

a commonwealth of nations

with a common wealth of
interests and affections.

Come along, lads. Time for a run.

Time for what?

Run where?

Where's the bloody fire?

Excuse me, ladies. I hate to interrupt.

But Mr Allen and Mr Wyatt
have a prior engagement.

97, 98, 99, century.

Right. Touch your toes.

Hey, Mr Warner, His
Highness is arriving.

Ah, splendid. Has Pati arrived yet?

Aye, skipper. He's just come up.

Come on. Let's go and get your dad.
He'll want to see that.

My dear Douglas. What an
adventure we have before us.

We have a real battle
ahead of us, Pati.

I promise you at least one century.

Excellent. I need all I can get.

Ah, Douglas.

Pardon us for interrupting you, but I
felt we should have a little talk.

Yes, certainly. About what?

Er, strategy?

Not yet.

Douglas, I am one of five fast bowlers.

I wonder what part you see me playing.

I'd like you to take as
many wickets as you can.

Good heavens, man. Gubby is
one of your fast bowlers.

Bobby's your vice-captain
and I'm your team manager.

Surely we have a right to know.
Well, of course you have.

But at the right time.

I should have thought
the right time was now.

Plum, I am sorry. You
simply must trust me.

Well, it's time for the 4:00 run.

We'll see you later.

Well, how goes it, boys?

Hello, Mr Jardine. Fine, skipper.

Feeling fit, Bowes?

Aye, sir. Like a racehorse
before the Derby.

You know what they're
saying about us, boys?

They say Bradman's got us licked.

Ah, well, we'll see about that.

They say if we can't beat
them on the English pitches,

what chance do we have on theirs?

Bowl faster, sir.

Do you know what it's like in
the Australian summer, Bowes?

The ground is hard, the pitch
is slow and kind to batsman,

and the Australian sun -
well, Harold will tell you -

you'll live to curse it.

What is it you want of us, skipper?

I want you to bowl faster
than you've ever done before,

and more accurately.

I will call upon you to do it
hour after hour, day after day,

until you curse not only the
sun, but the name Jardine.

Our reward will be the Ashes.

Goodbye again. Goodbye.

Well, Plum, are we all ready?
I think so.

Ahoy, losers!

Australia are dead
certain for the Ashes!

You haven't got a chance,
you Pommy blackguards!

Oh, it's a local character
- Ernest Jones.

He used to be a fast bowler.

I saw him break a batsman's ribs once.

Now he just follows the Australian
team around. He's harmless enough.

Australia are dead
certain for the Ashes!

England, go home!

Well, what can you
expect from Australia?

You don't stand a chance,
you bastards, with Bradman!

Gentlemen, we are entering
the land of the barbarian.

Go home, you Pommy buggers!

Joking aside, we of the
Australian Cricket Board

are proud to make the first gesture
of welcome to the English team.

I would now like to call upon
a great man of cricket...

and a great man of empire,

the MCC manager, Mr Pelham Warner.

Thank you, Dr Robertson and members
of the Australian Cricket Board,

for those kind words of welcome.

There are no better hosts nor no
truer friends than Australians.

I admire your sterling character

and have developed a healthy
respect for your cricketers.

You know, the very word 'cricket'

has become a synonym for all
that is true and honest.

To say "that is not cricket"
implies something underhand,

something not quite in keeping
with the best ideals.

And this is the aim of the
Marylebone Cricket Club -

of which I am a humble,
if devoted, member -

to preach the gospel of British fair
play as developed in its national sport.

Gubby. Bob. I'd like you
to meet Jack Fingleton.

- Jack. Gubby Allen.
- Pleased to meet you.

Bob Wyatt. Demon batsman.
Thank you very much.

What's the clue to the five
fast bowlers, then, eh?

Journo. Ah. Yes, well...

Play a bit of cricket as well.
In your spare time.

And drinking them.

Here's to your first
Test against the MCC.

If you'll excuse me.

What does that badge mean?

It's our cricket board, sir.

They won't let Mr Bradman
play in the Tests.

I'm sorry?

Mr Bradman, sir - they
won't let him play.

Something wrong?

It appears Mr Bradman will not
be playing in the series.

Why on earth not?

Well, the Australian Cricket Board...

bureaucrats have struck again

with the full force
of their mediocrity.

I beg your pardon?

Clive Cooper, Associated Press.

Bradman's writing for a newspaper.

The board doesn't think it's cricket.

Then what's he doing here?

The board, in its
wisdom, will permit him

to play in all the preliminary matches,

but not the Test matches.

Dr Robertson, is this true?

Yes, I'm afraid so. Well,
this is totally bizarre.

I've travelled 12,000 miles
to play against him.

Surely you're here to play
against an Australian XI.

Not just an individual.
Yes, well, of course.

You see, the board does have a
very strict policy in this matter.

We do not approve the selection
of any player for any Test side

who is also writing on that
particular Test series.

Is this decision irrevocable?

Well, certainly not.

It's entirely in Mr Bradman's
hands whether he plays or not.

Well, what does he have to do?

Well, simply promise not to write
while he's playing in a Test series.

And have you discussed
the matter with him?

The board is shortly meeting
with Mr Bradman in Sydney.

I trust we shall resolve
the matter then.

But, Allen, surely I
don't have to remind you

we're in the middle of a
severe economic depression.

People are reluctant to
part with their money.

And they certainly won't do so
if they can't watch Bradman.

The game is more important
than the individual.

If we allow ourselves to
be dictated to by players,

who knows where it will end?

One-day matches for the
convenience of the press.

Later starting times to
suit the radio stations.

Giving in to Bradman could
set an unhealthy precedent.

Well, it'll be unhealthy if
we lose money on this tour.

And we will lose money
if Bradman doesn't play.

More to the point, we'll lose the
Test series if Bradman doesn't play.

It isn't whether we win or lose...

Of course it's whether we win or lose!

The Australian public
doesn't want to see

the English going home with the Ashes.

Mr Bradman is here.

Oh, uh... send him in.

Just give us a minute, though.

Yes, sir.

Well, then, we're agreed.
We can't back down.

But, Allen, before you...
Aubrey, leave it to me.

I know that when it comes to the crunch,
he'll want to play in the Tests.

Morning, Don. Come in, come in.
Dr Robertson.

Take a seat. Thank you.

Cup of tea? No, thanks.

Mr Jeanes.

Now, Don, as we... as we explained
to you at our last meeting...

the situation with
your present contract

is a very delicate one.

But, Dr Robertson, I wrote to
you about that months ago,

as you requested.

What more can I do?

Well, you see, um, our problem is, Don,

that we can't approve
the selection in a Test

of any player who is
writing about that series.

I'm sure you will appreciate, Don,

that it could be most, oh... disruptive

to have one member of the team

commenting on the
selection or performance

of any other member of the team.

The problem is that only players
whose sole occupation is journalism

are exempt from the ruling.

Yes, and in your case, you're
also promoting sporting goods

and, uh, broadcasting on the wireless.

Well, that makes three occupations.

I have a three-way contract,

part of which involves
writing for the newspaper.

It is a contract which I must honour.

If that means giving up cricket,
then I will give up cricket.

Oh, Don. Surely you can reconsider.

No. I came here today to ask
the board to reconsider.

It seems that I have failed.

We can't have him
dictating to the sport.

If we stand fast, I
know he'll back down.

Don't let those fools on the
Control Board get to you.

They're just petty bureaucrats
full of their own importance.

And they can't expect you to
give up that newspaper contract.

You earn half that
money playing cricket.

If they don't allow you to play
because of some silly little rule,

then millions of Australians will come
down and drag them out of their offices

and throw them off the
Sydney Harbour Bridge.

It's not just them.

You know, they all reckon he's mad
bringing five fast bowlers out here,

because our wickets are slow.

But he's up to something and
I don't know what it is.

Um, we were wondering if we could
have a chat with you, skipper.

It's about tactics for the Tests.


Well... well, it...
it's just that, um...

all this training on the ship

and the occasional remarks
you've made to some of us...

well, we don't know how it
is we're supposed to play.

Well, you're supposed to
play the way you're told to.

That's what I brought you here for.

Told you. Aye.

That's what we want to do, skipper,
but we'd like to know how and why.

Why? Because I bloody
well say so, that's why.

And if you don't like it, you can
take the next boat back to England.

I told you he'd say that.

Well, I hardly think that
can be right, skipper.

I mean, a man deserves to
know what's expected of him.

Else, how can he do
his best as a bowler?

Is that the way you feel as well, Voce?

Aye, I'm with the lads.

And you, Harold?

Mr Jardine, I know you stuck up for
me when others were against me.

And I'm grateful to you for that.

You know, I'd do anything you asked
me to do on a cricket field.

But I do believe I'd do a lot better
if I knew what you were after.

Very well. Sit down, all of you.

Come along.

I'll take that. Thank you.

Thank you.

Now... thus far, I have
impressed upon you all

the importance of accuracy.

We must be systematic.

We must concentrate our attack
on one side of the wicket.

Now, look here.

Here's the wicket.



I believe we should
attack the leg side.

I shall... back you up by placing
a field something like this.


I shall place one or perhaps
two men on the off side,


and here.

Then, a couple in the deep...

here... and here.

And the majority close
in on the leg side.

Two leg slips.

Backward square leg.

Short forward square leg.

And... a very silly mid-on.

Well, that's old-fashioned leg theory.

Aye, well, it always
keeps the runs down.

I don't just want to stop them scoring.
I want to get them out.

That's why you must be accurate.

I want you to bowl short

and to make the ball
rise up at the batsman.

If he hooks, he risks
being caught in the deep.

If he defends,

he risks popping a catch
up to the leg trap.

And if he doesn't defend...

Well, he risks getting hit.

Precisely. And no batsman likes
being hit. Especially Bradman.

Harold, do you remember
the Oval in 1930?

Aye. Bugger scored 232.

Ah, but you unsettled him.

Now, we must pull out all the stops.

I want you to all bowl
this form of leg theory

at the trial match in Melbourne.

Right. Right. Sounds good to me.

Short and fast. And accurate.

Let's keep this to ourselves.

Uh, Mr Allen?

I'll talk to Gubby. I don't want
you discussing this with anyone.

I want this to come as a
surprise to Mr Bradman.