Harold Larwood was a bowler of great speed combined with considerable control. This made him a force to be reckoned with in the years between 1926 and 1933. Although not a large man, his superb action allowed him to bowl in excess of 90 mph, and also provided some movement through the air. The 1932 tour of Australia was notorious for the tactics employed by England under the captaincy of Jardine, who instructed his faster bowlers to aim at the batsman, not the wicket. This was a terrifying prospect when Larwood was bowling. The political repercussions of the tour resulted in Larwood never being picked for England again (after refusing to apologise), and the oversight of how effective Larwood was when bowling conventionally. He was a hard hitting and successful batsman, making 98 against Australia in the final Test in 1933. David Frith (in The Fast Men, Corgi Books, 1977) describes his action as follows: "The run up was smooth and silent, the leap composed and balanced, long left arm high, the lunge of the front foot giving maximum pull." He was timed at 96 mph, but may well have been faster. Numerous batsmen suggest that he was the fastest of his time, and possibly the fastest high class bowler ever.
(Article: Copyright © 1998 Dave Liverman)
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