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In the winter of 1913-14 the M.C.C.'s team in South Africa met with almost uninterrupted success. Only once in twenty-two matches did they suffer a reverse, Natal beating them at Durban by four wickets in February. Of the other fixtures the Englishmen won twelve and left nine unfinished. Of course, as in all other trips nowadays, everything was subordinate to the Test matches. As to the result of the rubber there was never any doubt or anxiety. England won the first three matches and the last, the fourth ending in a draw. In South Africa Test Matches are restricted to four days. The general result of the Test games was a triumph for English cricket, but it would be unfair to write in the same strain as if the success had been gained in Australia. Never before had we sent such a powerful side to the Cape. The team might, with all propriety, have represented England at Lord's or the Oval. The South Africans, on the other hand, had struck a very lean period and were far below their standard of a few years back. By a strange irony of fate, R.O. Schwarz, Vogler and G.A. Faulkner- the three bowlers who made the great team of 1907- and S.J. Pegler, who bowled so finely for the 1912 side, had all settled in England, and no one could be found to fill their places. In the circumstances, victory for England was practically assured before the tour began. The English team consisted of:
MR. J.W.H.T. DOUGLAS (Essex), captain, MR. M.C. BIRD (Surrey), HON. L.H. TENNYSON (Hampshire), J.B. HOBBS (Surrey), C.P. MEAD (Hampshire), J.W. HEARNE (Middlesex), F.E. WOOLLEY (Kent), W. RHODES (Yorkshire), M.W. BOOTH (Yorkshire), H. STRUDWICK (Surrey), E.J. SMITH (Warwickshire), A.E. RELF (Sussex) and, S.F. BARNES. (Staffordshire)
Mr D.C. Robinson (Gloucestershire), went out with the team as second wicket keeper, but almost as soon as he reached South Africa he was invalided home, Smith, of Warwickshire, being sent off by the first available boat to complete the side. There was no question as to the great strength of the combination, but Hobbs stood out by himself as a batsman and Barnes dwarfed all the other bowlers. As on the occasion of his previous visit to South Africa in the winter of 1909-10, Hobbs proved himself an absolute master on matting wickets. It was said that he was not quite so brilliant as in England but, judging by results, he did wonders. In the whole tour he scored 1596 runs, with an average of 76, and in the five Test matches his play was so consistent that, with 92 as his highest score, he averaged 63. In matches other than the Test games he hit up five 100's. As regards Barnes, it would be hard to indeed to praise him beyond his deserts. Everyone felt sure before he left England that, with his remarkable finger spin, he would do well on matting wickets, but his success exceeded all expectation. He was simply irresistible. In the five Test matches he took forty nine wickets for just under eleven runs each, and in the whole tour 125 wickets for little more than nine and a half runs each. Moreover, according to common report, he beat the bat about twice an over, without hitting the wicket. Mead was close up to Hobbs in the Test matches, but far behind him for the whole trip. Douglas himself had a capital tour both as batsman and bowler. Woolley and J.W. Hearne were very disappointing batsmen in the Test matches, but they did better in other fixtures. Hearne had to stand out of the team for some weeks owing to influenza. Rhodes was most valuable as an all-round man, scoring 885 runs with an average of 36, and taking fifty seven wickets. The strength of the side may be judged from the fact that Booth was left out of three of the Test matches.
As to the South Africans, there is not much to say. Compensation for many disappointments, however, was found in the superb batting of H.W. Taylor, who more than justified all the good things predicted of him when he came to England in 1912. He, at any rate, proved capable of playing Barnes's bowling. In the five Test matches he had the splendid average of 50. Of the new bowlers J.M. Blanckenberg was, in the opinion of the Englishmen, decidedly the best. The pleasure of the trip was a good deal marred by the labour troubles in Johannesburg, and owing to an unfortunate misunderstanding, there was a little unpleasantness at Bloemfontein.
Match reports for
1st Test: South Africa v England at Durban, Dec 13-17, 1913
2nd Test: South Africa v England at Johannesburg, Dec 26-30, 1913
3rd Test: South Africa v England at Johannesburg, Jan 1-5, 1914
4th Test: South Africa v England at Durban, Feb 14-18, 1914
5th Test: South Africa v England at Port Elizabeth, Feb 27-Mar 3, 1914