When England were forced by the Government to cancel the tour arranged for South Africa to the United Kingdom in 1970 the authorities at Lord's through the Test and County Cricket Board devised a series of five matches against The Rest of the World. At the same time it was announced that England caps would be given to the home team and that the matches would be accorded the dignity of unofficial Test status. The counties agreed to release any of their players required for the Rest, whose sides were chosen by F. R. Brown (manager), G. S. Sobers (captain) and L. E. G. Ames (secretary-manager of Kent).
The series was sponsored by Guinness who put up a handsome silver trophy and £20,000, of which £13,000 went to the players and £7,000 to the counties. The winning team in each Test thus received £2,000 and the winners of the rubber £3,000.
The Rest won four matches and so carried off the main spoils, a curious feature being that in all the five matches victory went to the side that fielded first.
Another interesting factor was the presence of five of the South African players fresh from their country's clean sweep in the four unofficial Test Matches against Australia earlier in the year: E. J. Barlow, B. A. Richards, R. G. Pollock, P. M. Pollock and M. J. Procter. There were also five West Indies representatives in the successful side, G. S. Sobers, C. H. Lloyd, R. B. Kanhai, L. R. Gibbs and D. L. Murray. Pakistan supplied two, their captain Intikhab Alam, and Mushtaq Mohammad, while Australia had G. D. McKenzie and India, F. M. Engineer. Other notable overseas Test players who were available included Majid Jahangir Khan, Asif Iqbal, Younis Ahmed and Sarfraz Nawaz (Pakistan), J. N. Shepherd (West Indies) and G. M. Turner (New Zealand).
For the most part attendances at the matches were disappointing, particularly at Trent Bridge, but various circumstances militated against large crowds. First, the doubt which had always existed against the South African tour taking place, meant that advance winter bookings for the Tests were negligible. When the five hastily arranged matches were announced the country was in the midst of a General Election and in addition sporting attention and Press and television publicity were switched to the World Cup Tournament in Mexico; then came the Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, and all these things threw limelight on cricket into the background.
Nevertheless, the cricket reached a very high standard; possibly only the Australian sides of 1921 and 1948 could have risen to the heights attained by The Rest, yet England, after a frightful start on the first day of the opening match, proved worthy opponents. They won at Trent Bridge and in two other games -- at Headingley and The Oval -- the issue remained in the balance until the closing stages.
England had looked forward to opposing South Africa, because form showed them to be the strongest Test combination at the present time. The presence of a powerful foe was also needed in order to produce an English team to visit Australia and New Zealand the following winter. The Rest of the World certainly fulfilled those requirements. England were well aware of loopholes in their batting and this was confirmed on that first humid morning at Lord's. Sobers, with his speed and swerve, effected a collapse. England could muster only 127, Sobers taking six for 26, and he followed with a magnificent innings of 183. Barlow made 119 and the Rest totalled 546.
On the first day of the second Test at Trent Bridge, two medium paced bowlers, D'Oliveira and Greig, each took four wickets when the Rest were dismissed for 276, despite 114 not out by Clive Lloyd and 64 by Richards. But again the England batsmen struggled. Barlow distinguished himself in taking five wickets for 66 and when he followed with a brilliant innings of 142, England's final task of making 284 looked very difficult. Luckhurst rose to the occasion by staying seven hours for 113 not out and saw England home by eight wickets.
D'Oliveira, the central figure in the apartheid controversy, held the England batting together in the third Test at Edgbaston with scores of 110 and 81, but the Rest, with Lloyd getting 101, Sobers 80 and the tail hitting to good purpose, reached 563 before they closed their first innings and went on to win comfortably.
Barlow proved the man of the match in the fourth Test at Headingley with seven wickets on the first day, including four in five balls. Altogether Barlow took twelve for 142 and again Sobers shone with the bat, 114 and 59, but England fought nobly and went down by only two wickets.
So far the only disappointing performer for The Rest had been Graeme Pollock, but in the final Test at The Oval he played gloriously for 114 and thousands of white and coloured spectators cheered him and Sobers (79) while they indulged in a memorable stand of 165. This was a feast of batsmanship. Apart from Luckhurst, twice dismissed by Procter for 0, England showed up well with the bat, Boycott playing superbly for 157, and in the end only a skilful 100 by Kanhai enabled the Rest to get home with four wickets to spare.
That is a brief summary of the five Tests, but one must dwell more on the performances of the England players because these had an important bearing on the selection of sixteen men who went to Australia.
Cowdrey, after his Achilles tendon trouble of the previous summer, was still not satisfied about his fitness and form; Boycott, too, was out of form, and both asked not to be considered for the first Test. So there was no question about Illingworth continuing as captain. Once more, he proved a sound tactician and time and again he came to the rescue in the many batting crises that occurred when England faced the Rest's bowling. His scores were: 63 and 94; 97; 15 and 43; 58 and 54; 52 and 0. His Test aggregate of 476 was only surpassed in the series by Sobers, 588, though Illingworth's seven wickets cost 40 runs each. So Cowdrey, already three times vice-captain in Australia, again had to play second fiddle.
At first the batting was brittle. Alan Jones and M. H. Denness were passed over after the first match. A badly bruised finger troubled Edrich and he appeared only twice. Fortunately Boycott suddenly jumped right to the top of his form, but the only real find was Luckhurst, who made 408 runs in the first four matches. He failed in the last, but he had done enough.
As D'Oliveira showed no decline and Fletcher, a fine stylist, averaged nearly 50, they were chosen with the last batting place going to Hampshire on the strength of his century on his Test debut against West Indies the previous year at Lord's and his proven ability to get runs on Australian wickets when he was coach to Tasmania. Knott and Taylor were considered by most experts as the best pair of wicket-keepers, but a big query hung over the bowling.
The main figure was Snow; Ward had broken down after one match, but reappeared late in the season in county matches and being proclaimed fit, was selected, only to encounter more bad luck soon after getting to Australia. Lever, tried in the last Test, won his place by capturing seven wickets in the Rest's first innings, Barlow, Pollock, Sobers and Lloyd being among his victims. A place was also found for Shuttleworth -- dropped after the first Test -- and the remaining two places were filled by the slow left-arm bowlers, Underwood and Wilson. So two genuine spinners who might have caused a stir in Australia, P. I. Pocock (off-spin) and R. N. S. Hobbs (wrist spin) were left behind, which was sad to reflect upon, but in line with modern thinking in the swinging seventies