These life stories may contain descriptions of childhood trauma and abuse, as well as images, voices and names of people now deceased. If you need help, you can find contact details for some relevant support services on our support page.

Famous English cricketer, Douglas Jardine (1900-1958), was in kinship care as child.

Douglas Robert Jardine was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. His parents were both Scottish and his father, Malcolm, well regarded as a cricketer.

At the age of nine, Douglas was sent from India to live in St Andrews, Scotland, with his Aunt Kitty. While living with his aunt, he became friends with scholar Andrew Lang, who encouraged the boy in his love of cricket.

Douglas went first to Horris Hill and he then boarded at Winchester College but spent holidays with his aunt. At both schools Douglas developed as a cricketer and cricket captain.

In 1919, Jardine began studying at New College, Oxford where he played cricket and  achieved well academically. He qualified to practice law in 1926, but earned his living as a bank clerk.

Douglas Jardine played for England against Australia for the first time in 1926.

In both 1927 and 1928 Jardine topped the national batting averages, at 91.09 and 87.15 respectively. A century for the gentlemen against the players at Lord’s was ‘in the manner of the master’ (The Times, 14 July 1927). A year later he made 193 in the same fixture at the Oval.

 Jardine was selected to captain the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) against Australia in 1932.

In what proved to be the most bitter tour in cricket history Jardine was the architect of victory and the harbinger of controversy. To beat Australia, England had to combat Donald Bradman, who had averaged 139.00 when Australia had regained the Ashes in 1930.

 With the cooperation of fast bowlers Harold Larwood (1904-1995) and Bill Voce (1909-1994), Jardine decide to use what was called ‘leg theory’—or what became known as ‘body line’ after being coined by Australian journalist Hugh Buggy and printed in the Melbourne Herald“a form of attack in which a field was set employing several fielders on the leg side, most of whom would be behind the wicket”.

Jardine had seen ‘leg theory’ employed in the English summer of 1932 and “liked what he saw”, despite “accurate, short-pitched bowling” being a “danger to batsmen.”

Amidst injuries to Australian batsmen, and the growing controversy of bodyline, Jardine continued to use ‘leg theory’ throughout the 1932-1933 Ashes Test, successfully curbed Bradman’s batting, and returned to England a hero.

Jardine captained the English side against the West Indies in 1933; the West Indies team employed bodyline, but Jardine countered it well. While acting as English captain for 1933-1934 tour of India—and again using bodyline—he notified the English press that he would not play against Australia again.

He cannot have known that a confidential letter from Hore-Ruthven had urged [team manager] Pelham Warner to use his influence to prevent ‘the selection of a man of Jardine’s temperament as captain’ (Gowrie MSS, MS 2852, 2nd ser. 5 Feb 1934, National Library of Australia, Canberra).

 At the age of thirty-three, Jardine’s career in international cricket was finished.

He remained marginalized from cricket at the highest level and the stigma of his identification with ‘bodyline’ lingered. Even the possibility of his returning to Australia in 1936 as a journalist reporting the next MCC tour filled Lord Gowrie, now the governor-general, with dismay (Howat).

Bodyline was formally banned before the 1935 English cricket season.

According to Rob Smyth, the Australian loathing of Douglas Jardine (which seems to have been mutual) has influenced the way Australian followers support their team.

The treatment of Jardine was a significant landmark in the development of Aussie barracking. When England try to win the Ashes in Australia, it is not so much 11 against 11 as 11 against 23 million. They have to compete with the entire country. The process of mental disintegration begins the moment they step off the plane – or even before, in the age of social media – and continues until they step back on it (Smyth).


 Bodyline television series

Howat, Gerad.  “Jardine, Douglas Robert (1900-1958)”. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, 2017.

Smyth, Rob. “’Let him die of thirst’: Douglas Jardine and the long history of Ashes sledging”. The Guardian, 20 November 2017.

Image available here.