Category Archives: Books & Reading

The Bodyline Fix: How women saved cricket (2022)

The Bodyline Fix: How women saved cricket by Marion Stell. St Lucia, University of Queensland Press, 2022. pp. 286. A$34.99 pbk.

In 1990 Marion Stell and Mary-Lou Johnston interviewed several of the women who represented Australia in the inaugural cricket tests between Australia and England during the 1930s and assembled rich donated collections of cricket memorabilia from the time, now held by the National Museum of Australia. Stell and Johnston also spent many hours with the England Captain, Betty Archdale. Daughter of a suffragette, barrister and later a forthright public figure in Australia, Archdale displayed a clear understanding of the wider context and significance of the tours even as a young woman. Her interviews provided some of the richest insights into women’s cricket in the Bodyline era and form the basis for  Stell’s central argument  in The Bodyline Fix, namely, that the women’s test series of 1934-5 and 1937 were crucial to repairing the fissures caused by Bodyline in the men’s game and British-Australian diplomatic relations.

The Bodyline Fix reveals so much more than the interplay between the men’s and women’s series and the ructions of 1930s cricket. Stell and Johnston’s oral histories and Stell’s exhaustive research and eminently readable writing are invaluable to cricket history and to scholarship on women in sport in general.

My full review forthcoming in History Australia.