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S. J. Southerton
Of this number all but Balaskas, Brown, Curnow, Steyn and Viljoen had been members of the team which toured England in the season of 1929. Without any idea of disparaging the work of the side it can be said at once that the players met with nothing like the success for which they had hoped and which the performances of the South African cricketers against the 1930-31 M. C. C. team in South Africa had suggested they might achieve.
Commencing their programme at Perth towards the end of October, they played seventeen matches in Australia before visiting New Zealand, and in these they were successful on five occasions, six games being drawn and six lost. In New Zealand, they engaged in three fixtures, two of them with the full strength of New Zealand, and won all three, and returning to Australia completed their tour with a return match against Western Australia, in which they were, also victorious.
While they wound up in rather good style, the tour, taken as a whole, did not bring them much glory. Actually they played twenty-one matches, winning nine, losing six and drawing six, but the main object of the tour was far from being accomplished, for they lost every one of the five Test matches with Australia. Not only did they lose them but in each they were soundly beaten, Australia winning three of them in an innings; one by 169 runs, and the other by ten wickets. The results of the visit did not compare favourably even with those of the previous tour as far back as 1910-11 - the first over undertaken by a South African team in Australia.
Curiously enough, while they twice overcame South Australia, and Tasmania, their only other victories in the Commonwealth were against Western Australia, two country elevens of New South Wales and Victoria respectively. It is easy to see, therefore, that they had little on which to congratulate themselves. Not even their two wins against New Zealand could compensate for the poor showing in the Tests in Australia.
These particular five matches served to emphasise the wonderful ability of Bradman as a batsman, for this marvellous young cricketer scored a hundred in every Test match except the last when he was injured. His name appeared in the list of those playing but he took no part in the game. Leading off with 226 in the First Test Match at Brisbane, he followed with 112 in the next at Sydney, 167 in the Third at Melbourne, and 299 not out at Adelaide in the Fourth. In addition to these huge scores he also made 219 and 135 for New South Wales. As the outcome of all this he headed the batting figures against the tourists with the extraordinary average of 201.50.
To the batting of Bradman and the bowling of Grimmett, can be assigned the real explanation for the failure of the South Africans in representative engagements. Bradman and Grimmett, in their respective spheres of activity in cricket during that season, established a pronounced inferiority complex among the visitors. When Bradman was batting they bowled in nothing like their best form - although it is only fair to mention that in the first Test match at Brisbane Bradman was twice missed early in his innings - while when facing Grimmett the South African batsmen showed an impatience to jump in and hit that almost invariably led to their undoing. One other bowler caused them great trouble, Ironmonger, at Melbourne, on a ruined wicket in the last Test Match accomplishing a phenomenal performance in each innings. In that match South Africa were dismissed for totals of 36 and 45.
The most consistent South African batsman was Christy who played three innings of over a hundred and headed the batting figures in all matches with an average of nearly 40. Taylor was second to him as he was second to Mitchell in the batting averages for Test Matches alone, but on his general form throughout the tour Taylor was far from being the dominating personality of former years. Only one century was hit in Test matches for the South Africans, Viljoen making 111 in the third, at Melbourne.
Bell proved the most successful bowler for the South Africans in the Tests, taking twenty-three wickets for over 27 runs apiece, but Quinn and Vincent, the only others to take ten or more wickets, were both very expensive. Indeed, the bowling figures in all the first-class matches revea1 to some extent the real weakness of the side.
The team were not always sure in their catching but on occasion they fielded brilliantly, while Cameron, as wicket-keeper, earned high praise for his uniformly accurate work. Financially the tour was not a success.
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