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The South Africans failed so dismally in the Test matches that, though they won thirteen of their less important games, their tour can only be regarded as a failure. They were quite a good side when nothing special was demanded of them but, with one exception, the big occasions found them sadly at fault. In not one of the, five Test matches they lost did they make any bid for victory, defeat in every instance being overwhelming. They were beaten twice in a single innings, twice by ten wickets, and once by 174 runs. Such reverses, following the failure in Australia in the winter of 1910-11, put South African cricket far below Ise level reached during the tour in England in 1907. Judged by their ordinary form--in the matches with the counties they were only beaten by Lancashire--they ought to have done better, but some-how they were not a Test match team. Their batting lacked class, and their bowling variety of pace. In two respects fortune was against them.
Faulkner, the only batsman on their side who could bear comparison with Bardsley and Macartney and the best of the Englishmen, let them down badly in the Test matches after playing a great innings at Manchester; and Schwarz, as a bowler, had quite lost the pace off the pitch that made him so deadly in 1907. It is difficult to account for Faulkner's ill-success. When he scored his 122 not out at Old Trafford on Whit-Tuesday he steed head and shoulders above his colleagues, and with him on the side there seemed no reason to despair of victory against either England or Australia. It is a lamentable fact, however, that in the other five Test matches he only scored 72 runs in nine innings. The wickets were against him, but of course they were no worse for him than for anyone else. One can only come to the conclusion that he was too keen and anxious and could not in the big matches play his natural game. What his failure meant to the team can scarcely be estimated. A sharp attack of illness upset him in May, but he soon recovered and had no relapse, playing right on to the end of the tour after missing a couple of matches.
Inasmuch as he scored 1,075 runs and took 163 wickets, he was far and away the best ricketer on the side, but nothing compensated for his failures as a batsman in the matches that mattered. Nourse, taking the whole season through, was much the biggest run-getter, but all his long scores were obtained outside the great matches. In the Test games, though he played well at Trent Bridge and the Oval, he only scored 220 runs with an average of 20.
Beyond all question the feature of a disappointing tour was the bowling of Pegler who at one bound sprang into the front rank. He often had too much to do, but he stuck to his work untiringly, and finished up with a record of 189 wickets for little more than fifteen runs apiece. He at least could look back upon his first trip to England with complete satisfaction. A right-handed medium-pace bowler with a nice high delivery, he depended mainly on his quick break from leg. He varied his pace well and occasionally broke back, but the leg-break--bowled without tossing the ball at all high in the air--was his sheet anchor. He nearly always bowled well, and on some occasions--notably against the M.C.C. and England at Lord's, and Sussex at Brighton--he suddenly became irresistible. He finished off the M.C.C.'s second innings by taking six wickets in six overs and three balls for ten runs, and he had England out for 337 after the score had reached 303 for four wickets. On this latter occasion, hitting the stumps four times, he took six wickets while sixteen runs were being scored from him. Day after day during the latter half of the tour Pegler and Faulkner had to do the bulk of the bowling, only Nourse, and now and then Carter, giving them much assistance. A really fast bowler would, from sheer force of contrast, have been invaluable. Apparently Snooke had lost his bowling as he was only put on in six innings. Gordon White, like Schwarz, was the mere shadow of the bowler he had been five years before and very little use was made of him.
Of the batsmen new to England H. W. Taylor was by far the most successful. Excellent in style and a powerful driver, he is likely to make a great mark before he is much older. He played a fine innings of 93 against Australia at Lord's and, with an aggregate of 1,340, was second to Nourse in the averages for the whole tour. Stricker often proved himself a good hitter, but he did not strike one as being in the same class as Taylor. Apart from five of the Test matches Llewellyn only appeared for the team once. He hit brilliantly against England and Australia at Lord's, but in bowling he was a sad failure. Frank Mitchell, who captained the side, played a great innings against Yorkshire at Huddersfield in May, but he did not keep up his form, and in three of the Test matches he stood down, handing over the leadership to Tancred. It is no reproach to these two excellent cricketers to say they were a little passe for The South African Team in England.
international matches. Still Tancred played some fine innings and narrowly missed his thousand runs for the tour. Ward and Campbell, the wicket-keepers, were both new to England. Ward showed on occasions such brilliant, form that much may be expected of him in the near future.
Outside the Test matches, the South Africans were only beaten by the M.C.C. at Lord's, Lancashire at Liverpool, and Mr. Lionel Robinson's Eleven at Attleborough. The most important of their thirteen victories were those over Surrey at the Oval, Gentlemen of England at Hastings--the last game of all--Warwickshire, Sussex, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Derby-shire, and Cambridge University. In their drawn matches they got on particularly well against Notts, Kent, Hampshire, and Middlesex.
Match reports for
Australia v South Africa at Manchester, May 27-28, 1912
England v South Africa at Lord's, Jun 10-12, 1912
England v South Africa at Leeds, Jul 8-10, 1912
Australia v South Africa at Lord's, Jul 15-17, 1912
Australia v South Africa at Nottingham, Aug 5-7, 1912
England v South Africa at The Oval, Aug 12-13, 1912