Considering what the West Indies team of 1923 had accomplished the performance of the side which visited England last summer proved extremely disappointing. The earlier combination, engaging in 26 matches, of which 20 were first-class, gained 12 victories, played seven draws, and met with seven defeats. Tours of English cricketers in the West Indies since that time suggested such progress at the game in that part of the world that the programme arranged for the men led by R. K. Nunes included three encounters with the full strength of England. Unhappily expectations were rudely shattered. So far from improving upon the form of their predecessors, the team of 1928 fell so much below it that everybody was compelled to realise that the playing of Test Matches between England and West Indies was a mistake. In all three games the tourists made quite a good start in batting, and afterwards crumpled up so badly that they had to admit defeat in a single innings. Indeed, of 30 first-class contests twelve were lost and only five won, so, whatever the future may have in store, the time is certainly not yet when the West Indies can hope to challenge England with a reasonable hope of success. The five victories were gained at the expense of Derbyshire, Cambridge University, Middlesex, Northamptonshire and Kent. That over Kent was the most brilliant performance of the whole tour, and the one over Middlesex a remarkable achievement, even if the metropolitan county, in their first innings, declared with four wickets in hand. In addition to losing the Test Matches so decisively the West Indies players went down before Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Sussex, and severely damaged their reputation by failures against Ireland, Wales and a team drawn from the Minor Counties while, after their triumph over Kent, they were beaten three times in a fortnight, their conquerors during this brief period being the Oxford Harlequins at Eastbourne, An England Eleven at Folkestone and H. D. G. Leveson-Gower's team at Scarborough.
Among the many causes which contributed to the failure of the tourists, a very notable one was the deterioration in the run-getting powers of challenor. This delightful batsman put together several skilful innings and made over 1,000 runs, but last summer, at the age of 40, he was no such tower of strength as he had been five years earlier, and his average fell from 86 to 27. Unfortunately, also, two other members of the previous team in Fernandes and Small fell off considerably, their averages dropping from 34 and 31 respectively to 18 in each instance. Furthermore, of the bowlers with previous experience of this country, Francis, although still fast, had not quite the pace or accuracy he possessed in 1923, while Browne (medium pace) proved slightly more expensive and much less effective than on the occasion of his earlier visit, and for the falling off in these two cases an increased measure of success on the part of Small did not atone. Another big factor in the sorry record of the West Indies men was the dropping of catches. With three fast bowlers-- Constantine, Griffith and Francis--on the side there came numerous chances in the slips and at the wicket, but the slip fielders, handicapped they urged by the difference in the light, blundered time and again, and Nunes, as a wicket keeper, having only moderate skill, the absence of Dewhurst--a member of the team of 1923--was very severely felt.
While several of those who had visited England five years earlier failed to reproduce their previous form, Constantine--except in one all important respect--enjoyed quite a triumph. He bowled at a great pace, and took over 100 wickets, he hit fiercely, and made nearly 1,400 runs, with three separate 100's among his scores, and he was both fast and brilliant in the field. In nearly all the five victories he played a big part, but he failed completely in the Test Matches, securing only five wickets, and these at a cost of 52 runs apiece, and in six innings scoring no more than 89 runs.
Among the newcomers only Griffith met with success as a bowler, but he with his great pace, generally good length and indomitable perseverance, had good reason to be pleased with what he accomplished. Roach was perhaps the best of the new batsmen. Possessed of strong defence and a nice variety of stroke--especially on the off-side--he created a distinctly favourable impression, and he added to his abilities as a run-getter the further qualifications of being a brilliant fieldsman--especially at cover point. Martin, a left-hander, was probably the most difficult man on the side to dismiss. He watched the ball closely, and played back very hard, while on occasion his steady left-handed slow bowling helped to keep down the runs. He had a happier personal experience in the Test Matches than any of his colleagues, being only once out for less than 20, and never for a single figure.
Bartlett, a right-handed batsman, of small stature, quick footed, and a hard hitter in front of the wicket, and possessed of a neat cut--both square and late--had the misfortune to break a finger and so prejudiced his chances of distinction. Still his 109, made at Trent Bridge against the full strength of the Notts bowling, stamped him as a player of distinct class. Hoad and Scott, although the former headed the batting averages, were slow in running into form, and neither Neblett nor Rae achieved anything of note, but the big disappointment was St. Hill. Of this batsman, who had some delightful strokes on the off-side, much was expected before the tour began but, too eager to hit before he had played himself in and, in these circumstances, timing the ball badly, he did little or nothing.
While the catching was so often faulty, the ground fielding, in the matter of chasing and gathering the ball, was excellent, but fine work in these directions was often badly discounted by a return so wide of the wicket that the chance of running a man out was thrown away.
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