1937 (Part One) A tour undone by selection inadequacies
Lynn McConnell looks, in three parts, at
After the tour was over, Merv Wallace, who was one of the younger players in the touring team and who topped the averages and aggregate with 1641 runs at 41.02 in England, penned a series of articles for the New Zealand Observer. Bill Carson’s correspondence home from the tour has also provided some interesting sidelights. This was most notably in relation to the frustration he suffered from not being able to match the exceptional form in
The side was not helped by the selection policy of the day that offered little chance for 'country' players, those who lived outside the four main centres. Martin Donnelly, who scored 1414 runs in
The selector who saw Pritchard bowl never left the train which pulled up alongside the net left with the comment, "We've got half a dozen bowlers like that in
It is one of the great quotes of
Recent research has provided more background of that tour which was captained by M L 'Curly' Page and managed by Tom Lowry, an enormous figure in
There was no doubt that he was also a controversial manager, who played occasionally as reserve wicketkeeper to Eric Tindill, and who sometimes usurped the captaincy from the appointed vice-captain Giff Vivian.
The New Zealanders travelled to
By comparison to the wardrobe of gear provided for teams every time they leave on tour nowadays, the team members of 1937 had very little to carry when they left New Zealand.
"No gear of any kind was supplied to us before leaving. In
It appears that
It was only at that stage that Lowry accompanied
"…On Wednesday," Carson wrote home on September 25, by which time the team was due to head home, "I went along to a specialist with T Lowry to let him see my ankle. It hasn't been hurting me but I just don't think it is right yet. He said that on the inside of the foot there are two small bones which take a muscle equally between them. One of the bones of mine has been pulled away by the rick I gave it and consequently the muscle is now straining only on one so causing pain. Also the [unreadable word] of the tissues has caused the blood to congeal at that part. I have been getting it massaged and electrically treated so that it will become looser. He has given me exercises to so as to strengthen the muscles,"
Just what effect this sort of injury had on
Wallace commented at tour's end: "Since I returned a number of people have put up to me the question: 'Why did Bill Carson not do better in
And being confined to the ship for so long also had its drawbacks: "We rise at present at 8.15am – although next week I believe we have to get up at 7.45am to exercise," he wrote. Have breakfast at 9am and sit on a deck chair on top of the hatch on the top deck at the back of the buildings behind the bridge till 1.15pm, when we go down and eat again. We then trot up stairs as fast as possible to get our chairs. Occasionally we break the spell by having a game of deck quoits and deck tennis. The latter game I don't play yet as my ankle is not yet right. At 6.30pm we go down again and this time we put on our dinner suits for tea. Afterwards we attend the programmes arranged."
But once he had his sea legs things improved. "I am enjoying the trip beautifully now. Haven't felt a bit sick since I got over the first four days…The ankle has not got better yet. I can walk and never feel it. But as soon as I run it is a wee bit sore, or when I bend it sideways the ligaments become sore."
However, the injury and its effects were not immediately obvious after arrival in
After the first loss of the tour, against Glamorgan, a match which
"The strenuous character of our tour is shown by the fact that before leaving for the ground on that third day we had packed and left our baggage for 'Fergie' [scorer and baggageman] to forward, and immediately after the match, when everyone was dog tired, we boarded a train for Oxford, reaching there about 10pm and starting a match against the University eleven next morning. This sort of thing went on right through the tour. We started one match immediately after another, with train travelling sandwiched in between. In the long run it was no wonder the players began to feel stale and weary."
The next match was a win over
"Next day we raised our total to 135. Fraser, a left-hander bowling round the wicket, did considerable execution. I managed to hold my end up for 71, and had a merry lash at the finish when Jack Cowie was in with me. He held his end up most unselfishly for one run while I went for the bowling. (They added 41 runs for the last wicket)
But they were soon back to reality as they lost to
In the drawn game against Northamptonshire,
"In the second innings I struck true form for the first time for a long while. The first night I was 52 not out. Next morning we were only batting till 12.15 which meant I had to get 48 runs in 45 mins. At 12.10 I was 86 and unfortunately in attempting to drive a ball I mistimed it and was caught easily. However, I am now in great form and it shouldn't be long before I get a lot of runs."
After the Northampton game, Wallace commented: "The 'gate' at this and several other matches was distressingly small and personally I don't think these matches against second-rate county sides are worth playing as the return does not pay the travelling expenses. It would be better to give the side a rest and allow it to concentrate on the more important games, where a bigger gate would give a better financial return, particularly if the touring team could do justice to itself, instead of being fagged and listless through too much travelling."
The major problem that had been troubling the batting effort of the side was the lack of a consistently successful opening partnership. So far the opening partnerships had been: Page and Kerr (Surrey - 5), Kerr and Hadlee (MCC 41), Kerr and Hadlee (Glamorgan 31-14), Kerr and Tindill (Oxford Univ 17-37), Page and Hadlee (Cambridge Univ 0-37), Page and Hadlee (
The side then played
"He showed us his foot which has been dreadfully mutilated by an operation. I should think he will never be the same bowler again. He still has his beautiful style but cannot sustain the pace as he used to," Wallace wrote.
The first Test saw Wallace included after showing that despite having his broken finger still bandaged he was able to hold a bat while Giff Vivian, who had suffered a severe strain in a two-day game with
They weren't removed until 276 runs had been scored.
"Cowie was very dangerous at first and had
With Paynter finding runs against
But Moloney and Roberts got together and could claim to have held up royalty as the King arrived to be presented to the teams. However, at the scheduled time,
Wallace observed of
The game was drawn although the impetus was all with
There was no rest as it was straight onto the train that evening and down to
A draw with Gloucesterhire followed. They then played a Leicestershire side, captained by Stewie Dempster, which scored 557-44 declared.
"The next day Kerr scored his first century in
The game was rain abandoned and the side travelled to Leeds to play
Yorkshire scored 364, Hutton scoring 135 to which
In the two-day match with
An amusing incident occurred as the side travelled from Sunderland to
Because several players were keen to have a break during another game against a Scottish side at