Australian tours and their management

Sir Frederick Toone

It is but natural that when for the first time one is entrusted by the M.C.C. with the management of a tour to Australia, he should feel impressed with thei sense of responsibility and be anxious to justify the confidence placed in him by the rulers of the game. The success of a tour depends, to a very large extent, upon the preliminary arrangements at headquarters, and, of course, it is the manager's duty faithfully to carry out the intentions of the authorities he represents.

As manager of the three tours in which I have had the privilege of representing the M.C.C., I have, naturally, appreciated the great work done beforehand by Lord Harris, the Selection Committee, and those indefatigable secretaries, Sir Francis Lacey and Mr. W. Findlay.

They have done everything possible in advance to ensure the smooth working of the undertakings and, although I have had no experience beyond the tours in Australia, I think the work and foresight of those at home have been of the greatest value in all tours, not only from a cricket point of view but also from the imperial standpoint.

So far as I am personally concerned, I have from the very outset regarded these tours primarily as imperial enterprises, tending to cement friendship between the Mother Country and her Dominions. Players, therefore, selected to take part in them -- and this has always been borne in mind by the M.C.C. -- should not be chosen for their cricket qualities alone. They must be men of good character, high principle, easy of address, and in every personal sense worthy of representing their country, in all circumstances, irrespective of their work on the field.

The tours it has been my privilege to manage were those of 1920-1, 1924-5 and 1928-9. The three captains who have shared the responsibilities of the visits are Mr. J.W.H.T. Douglas, Mr. A.E.R. Gilligan and Mr. A.P.F. Chapman. And here let me say that with all three I had the most happy relations. Nothing but absolutely good sportsmanship was the keynote of all our proceedings. Not a wrong word was spoken on any of the tours; nothing but the greatest good feeling prevailed among all the players.

Sunshine is lovely in Australia but it was never more lovely than the feeling which prevailed in defeat as well as in victory. Australia is a happy country and the cricketers privileged to visit and to play there are assured of five and a half happy months. They make very many friends whom they leave with regret.

The travelling arrangements for these tours, including the selection of the hotels at which the team will stay, are made on the other side but they have to be ratified by the M.C.C. The carrying out of these arrangements, of course, devolves upon the manager, who makes it his first duty to see that the comfort of the players is properly provided for.

This, indeed, is the constant consideration of the manager and it necessarily involves some degree of tact and not a little patience. No trouble must be spared; no little detail overlooked. The health of the players, too, must be a special managerial care. No illness, or mishap however slight, can be neglected.

An expert masseur always accompanies the team, and is constant in his attentions. The need of such services can be judged when it is said that, apart from the strains of continuous match play, we had on the last tour to spend between twenty and thirty nights in the train, the longest journeys being from Perth to Adelaide which occupied about four days -- i.e., three nights on the train -- and, after the last Test, from Melbourne to Perth. The whole tour means a round journey of between 40,000 and 50,000 miles.

Though one does not like to stress it, managing an Australian cricket tour is hard work. An avalanche of letters has to be dealt with, a mountain of data about plans and itinerary removed. Not the least of this work has reference to the social side of the tour.

A very great deal of tact is required in this connection for the offers of hospitality are innumerable and one has to be very careful that the comfort, the convenience and personal wishes and health of the players are properly considered without giving the least cause to any host to feel slighted.

I must say here that the Governor General and State Governors have always been extremely cordial and eager in welcoming the teams I have accompanied. Lord Forster during my first and second tours took a very great personal interest in the progress of the team and their individual and collective performances. The spirit of imperialism which animated the party had a very ready response from their Excellencies and the Australian public at large.

From what one could gather there can be no doubt that the Australian Board of Control is the constituted authority to which the Australians as a body look to guide the game in the proper channel. The Board has the finger on the pulse of Australian cricket. Its authority is recognised throughout the States. There may be differences of opinion. There always will be. We have them at home. But the great thing recognised is that the members of the Board do their best for the game and its exponents.

The trustees of the various grounds have done wonderful work in building up some of the finest enclosures in the world. The arrangements for the accommodation of members and the public and for getting them to and from the grounds are on a scale not to be beaten for efficiency anywhere.

During the last tour I was asked to give my definition of cricket, and as it roused considerable interest, and I believe was received with approval, I may be forgiven for including it in this, I fear somewhat sketchy, contribution to Wisden's immortal pages.

It is a science, the study of a lifetime, in which you may exhaust yourself, but never your subject. It is a contest, a duel or melee, calling for courage, skill, strategy and self-control. It is a contest of temper, a trial of honour, a revealer of character. It affords a chance to play the man and act the gentleman. It mean going into God's out-of-doors, getting close to nature, fresh air, exercise, a sweeping away of mental cobwebs, genuine recreation of the tired tissues. It is a cure for care, an antidote to worry. It includes companionship with friends, social intercourse, opportunities for courtesy, kindliness, and generosity to an opponent. It promotes not only physical health but mental force.

It would be remiss on my part if I did not state how deeply I have felt the confidence which the M.C.C. reposed in me in offering me the appointment of manager of three consecutive Australian tours. As I have mentioned, the success of those tours, so far as a manager can make them, has been due in the first place to the care and foresight by which the ground was prepared in advance. My work has been to carry out the wishes of the M.C.C., and to cultivate the real spirit of cricket, and this I have endeavoured to do to the best of my powers.

My grateful thanks are also due to Lord Hawke and to the Members of the Yorkshire County Cricket Committee for giving me the necessary leave of absence which the management of the tours made necessary.

© John Wisden & Co