Martin Chandler |
Author: Walmsley, Keith
Rating: 4 stars
The ACS has been publishing for years. Initially, its output was essentially statistical, but that has evolved over time. There have been books on a range of subjects, and in 2007 the biographical series, Lives in cricket began, followed in 2017 by a cricket witness Series. A third series will start this year cricket tours, and Keith Walmsley’s report is the first to appear. The ACS makes an effort to indicate that the series is meant to be “occasional”, so I don’t expect it to make it to number 56 (the current state of the series). Lives in cricket series) in my lifetime, but we’re promised a second book next year* and I’m told another is in the works.
Given the general ACS letter and the subject matter of numbers 1 and 2 in the series, I don’t think we’ll read about tours in later books that are already the subject of full accounts. However, there doesn’t seem to be any reason why the mere fact that a tour included test matches would prevent it from being considered in the future, so now that nobody is writing about contemporary series anymore there is certainly potential for test series in the future.
But now we embark on a tour that, perhaps surprisingly, is virtually unknown today. I express my surprise because the guests in question were a combined team from Argentina, Brazil and Chile. In 1932, the South Americans certainly weren’t as strong as the Philadelphians, who visited three times during the Golden Age, and they didn’t have a standout player like Bart King, but they were still of sufficient quality for their 19 games, including six first-class -Matches, two of which were won against The Army and Sir Julien Cahn’s XI.
One of the best books of 2021 was that of James Coyne and Tim Abraham Evita burned down our pavilion, a history of the game in each of the Latin American nations (except Guyana). The lucky and sane who read that ABC countries are already familiar with some background on the game The ABC Tour goes over very little ground already covered. First of all, for those who have yet to indulge in Coyne and Abraham’s masterpiece, the advice is to do so (it’s now available in paperback), although reading it is certainly not a requirement for enjoyment The ABC Tour.
Those interested in 20th-century history will immediately recognize that 1932 was not an easy era economically, being three years after the Great Depression. The preparation, management and financing of a two-month trip for a group of amateur cricketers was therefore no easy task, and the first third of the narrative is spent tracing these subjects, which Walmsley is able to do largely thanks to his commendable thoroughness on contemporary press reports, particularly those in English-language newspapers published in Argentina.
Eventually a group of 15 players was assembled, ten from Argentina, three from Brazil, one from Chile and finally the batsman who ended up leading the tour average, Alfred Jackson, who was born and died in Chile but lived and played his cricket in 1932 Argentina. The next part of the book is therefore an account of the tour and the cricket match and again Walmsley is well served by contemporary press coverage in South America and in addition the English newspapers have also taken an interest during the tour.
The final part of the book itself is the reflection on events from the best part of a century later – where did the South Americans go wrong, where did they succeed, why was the journey never repeated and what became of the game in the ABC countries? ? Walmsley’s conclusions are as you would expect from the man who contributed Short candles and Short candles 2 to the Lives in cricket Series, measured, thorough and difficult to disagree.
The book concludes with a number of extremely useful appendices. The first, and I must admit I read this before I started the narration, is a short but thorough biography of each of the tourists. Below are the match scorecards and some notes on them, the tour stats and some other interesting information about the seating The times is dedicated to the journey, the purely social process and a summary of the results of the international matches that the ABC countries have played among themselves.
Something missing? The answer to that, realistically, has to be no. But a bit of very unscientific guessing and speculating at the end would have interested me. One point, which is dealt with fully in the text, is one which reflects the problems which English selectors have always had with their amateurs in the past, diverting them from their business and other obligations.
One of the points that The ABC Tour makes it very clear that if at least five men were unable to take the tour, they would certainly have traveled with the team had they been available. It’s almost inevitable that the squad would have done better at full strength, but how much better? Could they have won those other four first class matches? If so, could they perhaps have arranged a game or two against stronger opponents or even a competition with this summer’s other tourists, India? In truth, these are probably points that should be discussed over a beer or three rather than in the pages of a book like The ABC Tourone I would recommend to all lovers of cricket history.
*To visit a strong MCC team in India 1926/27.