Maestro Of The Bodyline – Arthur Carr

A Nottinghamshire cricketer for 21 years, Arthur Carr was the captain of the team for the final 16 of those years, and was also the skipper of the England national team in test matches. Once named the Wisden Cricketer of the Year, Carr was probably best remembered as being one of the architects of the infamous ‘bodyline’ tactic of bowling.

Born in the village of Mickleham in Surrey, on 21 May 1893, Arthur William Carr showed promise as a batsman playing for Sherborne when young. He was actually picked to play for Nottinghamshire in 1910 in a first-class game whilst still at school.

He cracked his maiden century in 1913, a fine 169, but it was not until after the war, in 1919 when he became Notts captain, that he really started to blossom as a cricketer. A hard and aggressive leader, he passed a 1000 runs for the season for the first time in 1921, scoring his maiden double-century, and then had his finest season to date the following year with 1749 runs at an average of 39.75 with four hundreds and eight fifties.

Carr was picked by the England team to tour South Africa in the winter of 1922/23, and competed in five test matches, making one score over fifty. His batting improved even further and he had his personal best campaign in 1925, with 2338 runs at 51.95, collecting eight hundreds and 11 fifties along the way. He also produced his highest first-class innings during this time, hitting 206 runs against close neighbours Leicestershire.

This led Carr to being named the captain of the England cricket team, taking over from Arthur Gilligan, when the Australians visited in 1926. He led the side in four matches, including his debut game in charge at his home ground of Trent Bridge, where the weather allowed only 17.2 overs of play. However, after getting tonsillitis, he was replaced as the skipper by Percy Chapman.

Carr managed to captain the team again in 1929 in two tests against South Africa, but his main focus was on guiding his team Nottinghamshire to a county championship triumph during the same season.

He himself amassed over 1500 runs with four hundreds, but it was mainly the bowling, including Harold Larwood and Bill Voce, which helped the county to their second championship triumph by a sound margin of ten points.

It was around this time that Carr, together with Douglas Jardine, and his two fast bowlers, Larwood and Voce, took to the tactic of bowling at the batsman’s body and setting a field on the legside in an attempt to catch the player out as they fended the ball away. This famously became known as ‘Bodyline’ and was used by Jardine as the England skipper when the side toured Australia in 1932/33. With both Larwood and Voce in the English team, the tourists were victorious in the Ashes series, but had to endure a lot of aggro and grief due to the fallout from the events, with several Aussie batsmen getting injured.

Carr continued to score runs for Nottinghamshire, but was never the same again as the domestic English bowlers used the same hostile tactic on himself. He was stripped of the Notts captaincy in 1934, and he retired from the game soon after. He competed in his final game in 1935 for a Sir L Parkinson’s XI in Blackpool.

Carr averaged just 19.75 in 11 tests for England, and accumulated over 18,800 runs for the county in 416 games. He struck 43 centuries, and held 368 catches, being very adept fielding close to the wicket. Carr settled down in Yorkshire after retiring, his father being a rich stockbroker and an owner of racehorses. He passed away in 1963.

*Article provided by Hitesh Darji (Cricket Correspondent)

*Main image @TrentBridge Carr played eleven tests for England & 468 first class games for Notts.

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