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In the autumn of 1927 the M. C. C. sent a team out to South Africa. G. R. Jackson, the Derbyshire captain, was invited to lead the side and accepted the post but shortly before the date of departure was attacked by illness which compelled him to tender his resignation. In these rather awkward circumstances Captain R. T. Stanyforth, a wicket-keeper, whose cricket had been played mostly for the Army, took over the duties and, if no special success attended his individual efforts on the cricket field, he showed himself a capable captain and a strong and popular personality. In the absence of Hobbs, Hendren, Tate, Larwood, Jardine, and Chapman, the team could not be described as really representative of English cricket, but it was generally regarded as strong enough to overcome South Africa. A strange experience, however, proved to be in store, the Englishmen after winning the first two Test matches, drawing the third and losing the last two. Honours thus were shared but the bigger performance was certainly that of South Africa in finishing, after the two opening defeats, on level terms.
The team consisted of the following fifteen players:
While South Africa deserved every credit for playing up so admirably and successfully after suffering two defeats, the Englishmen would probably have won the rubber but for one great misfortune. In the opening representative game Geary obtained twelve wickets for less than eleven runs apiece, but he broke down in the second and took part in no other engagement until the last fixture of the tour. The loss the side sustained through him not being able to participate in any of the last three Test matches could scarcely be over-estimated, for on the matting wickets he stood out above all his colleagues as a bowler, not only keeping a splendid length but making the ball turn quickly. Hammond, too, kept a length and came quickly off the pitch. Astill and Staples put in a lot of steady work and Freeman met with success in the second of the big contests, but no one attained to anything like the excellence of Geary.
Still heavy as was the blow inflicted upon the prospects of the team through Geary dropping out, the failure to win the rubber came about through weakness in batting rather than because of any pronounced limitations in the direction of attack. Tyldesley enjoyed several triumphs and had only two failures in the Test matches and if Holmes finished disastrously he, Sutcliffe and Hammond all showed fine form and Wyatt played some useful innings, but for these five men there was little support in run-getting. Stevens and Astill quite failed to maintain their home reputations and Stanyforth could make no runs, while Dawson and Legge each figured in only one of the five leading encounters. In short, the team developed a tail which those responsible for the selection of the side had no reason to anticipate. The fielding was maintained at a creditably high standard. It is matter for regret that G. F. Bissett, the South African fast bowler, who had so big a share in saving the rubber, does not form one of the team visiting England in the forthcoming summer. When he came here in 1924 an injury to the foot laid him aside at a time when he looked like running into form.
Summary of tour results:
All matches - 18, won 7, lost 2, drawn 9.
November 12, 14, 15, at Newlands, Cape Town, v Western Province - M.C.C. Team, 138; Western Province, 67 for six wickets. Drawn.
November 19, 21, 22, at Kimberley, v Griqualand West - M.C.C. Team, 366 for eight wickets (innings declared closed); Griqualand West, 118 and 173. M.C.C. Team won by an innings and 75 runs.
November 25, 26, 28, at Bloemfontein, v Orange Free State - Orange Free State, 192 and 236; M.C.C. Team, 592 for seven wickets (innings declared closed); M.C.C. Team won by an innings and 164 runs.
November 30, December 1, 2, at Pietermaritzburg, v Natal - Natal, 171; M.C.C. Team, 335. Drawn.
December 3, 5, 6, at Durban, v Natal - M.C.C. Team, 354 for four wickets (innings declared closed); Natal, 192 and 167 for six wickets. Drawn.
December 9, 10, 12, at Pretoria, v Transvaal - M.C.C. team, 205 and 328 for three wickets; Transvaal, 328 for seven wickets (innings declared closed). Drawn.
December 13, 14, at Johannesburg, v XV Transvaal and Natal Schoolboys - M.C.C. Team. 312 and 206 for four wickets; Schools XV, 199. Drawn.
December 16, 17, 19, at Johannesburg, v Transvaal - M.C.C. Team 129 and 360 for nine wickets (innings declared closed); Transvaal, 199 and 183 for three. Drawn.
December 20, 21, at Benoni, v A South African XI. - A South African XI., 86 and 305 for nine wickets; M.C.C. Team, 323. Drawn.
January 7, 9, at Port Elizabeth, v Eastern Province - Eastern Province, 136 and 98; M.C.C. Team, 49 and 187 for no wicket. M.C.C. Team won by ten wickets.
January 13, 14, at East London, v Border - Border, 146 and 107; M.C.C. Team, 362 for five wickets (innings declared closed). M.C.C. Team won by an innings and 109 runs.
February 18, 20, 21, at Cape Town, v Western Province - M.C.C. Team, 415 for eight wickets (innings declared closed) and 87 for two wickets; Western Province, 162 and 339. M.C.C. Team won by eight wickets.
Match reports for
1st Test: South Africa v England at Johannesburg, Dec 24-27, 1927
2nd Test: South Africa v England at Cape Town, Dec 31, 1927 - Jan 4, 1928
3rd Test: South Africa v England at Durban, Jan 21-25, 1928
4th Test: South Africa v England at Johannesburg, Jan 28-Feb 1, 1928
5th Test: South Africa v England at Durban, Feb 4-8, 1928