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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 13:46 GMT 14:46 UK
Old cricket ball fetches 10,000
The historic ball had originally been expected to fetch about 500
A rare cricket ball from England's notorious "bodyline" Ashes tour of Australia in 1932-33 has been sold at auction for 10,000.

Auctioneer Paul Keen said he was "bowled over" by the price the sporting relic fetched after an international bidding war.

The battered ball attracted worldwide interest, with telephone bidders from Hong Kong, Sweden, Spain, and the UK.

The ball went to a mystery UK buyer in the sale at Plymouth Auction Rooms.

Interest was tremendous, more than I can remember for any other single item
Paul Keen, auctioneer
Mr Keen said he was "staggered" at the price.

He said: "It grossly exceeded our expectations.

"Interest was tremendous, more than I can remember for any other single item."

England won the five-match 1932-33 "bodyline" series 4-1, but were widely criticised for the tactics used by their bowlers.

Captain Douglas Jardine had instructed his fast bowlers Harold Larwood and Bill Voce to deliver short balls directly at the Australian batsmen's bodies.

On the third day of the third Test at Adelaide, Bert Oldfield, one of the Australian batsmen, suffered a fractured skull after being struck in the head by a ball.

Tactic banned

Bill Woodfull, the Australian captain, famously said after being hit by a ball bowled by Larwood in the same match: "There are two sides out there. One is trying to play cricket, the other is not.

"The game is too good to be spoilt. It is time some people got out of it."

England's bodyline bowling caused a massive outcry in Australia and the technique was eventually banned.

The auctioned ball is mounted on a wooden shield, which is inscribed "Australia v England III Test Adelaide 1933" and signed by 10 England team members - including Jardine and Larwood.

Mr Keen said ahead of the bidding: "I have not found any record of any other balls from the bodyline tour coming up in public auction."

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