In 1886 the Melbourne Club had abandoned its intention to promote
an 1886-87 cricket tour of Australia
by its chosen English team. Now, on behalf of the Club, Major Ben Wardill
arranged for eight English amateurs and five professionals to visit Australia in
1887-88 instead.Mr G F Vernon, the
original choice as captain, acted as the Club's agent in England and
gathered a team but eventually there was a complete change in the personnel,
and few of those first talked about as possibilities for the tour accepted
Lord Hawke (as he became on his return) was the newly-appointed
captain, and started the tour but had to sail back to England early because of the death of his
father, so Vernon
took over the captaincy after all.Vernon himself had missed the first few games of the
tour after falling down a gangway on board the ship 'Iberia'.
The team also lost the services of Willie Bates who was struck in the eye by
a ball at net practice and had to go home. Yet the side lost only one match.
Largely because of the competition from Shrewsbury's rival English team, the
Melbourne Club lost approximately £3000 on the venture.
was a Victorian. He went to England
at the end of the tour to join the MCC groundstaff as a bowler
The team selection was made by G F Vernon and Walter Read. Major
B J Wardill, secretary of the Melbourne Cricket Club, indicated players he would like to
be brought but did not take part in selection of the team).
:Dr W G Grace was made an offer of
£1500 plus expenses to join the team but turned it down.
Mr E H Bowley (Sy), Mr K J Key, Mr W H Patterson, Mr A G Steel,
Mr G B Studd, Stanley Scott (Mx), Mr J G Walker, E F S Tylecote (Kent) were among
those reported to have been asked to tour but declined
Tour Party Announced : ?
Mr W.E.Roller of Surrey withdrew and county team mate Abel took his place.
Time between selection and departure from England
( ? - 15 September)
With Mr Newham and Mr Smith of the
rival New South Wales-sponsored team aboard, members of the Melbourne
Club'stour party left Tilbury on the
'Iberia' on Thursday 15 September 1887, calling at Plymouth where they
stayed until Saturday morning.
The ship reached King George’s
Sound, Albany, on 21 October, and Adelaide on Wednesday 26 October where the team stopped
to play a match, but Shaw & Shrewsbury’s team sailed on to Sydney.
Time spent in Australia
October -17 March)
Vernon slipped on the companionway and injured himself and could
not play for the first three weeks.
Bates was struck in the eye by a ball at net practice in Melbourne on 21
December and did not play again on the tour.He left Melbourne on the 'Orizaba' on 3
February and arrived home on 10 March, reportedly trying to commit suicide
on the voyage.
The touring umpire, Jim Phillips, played in one minor match, as did
Australians, F H (Frank) Walters and F.Williams. K.MacArthur, who played at
Goulburn because “Mr Read did not come having gone on a trip to Tenterfield”, took two brilliant catches at cover point.
A special general meeting of the Melbourne club on 21 January 1887 decided
to invite an English team. The club arranged the programme of fixtures
•The team was all out for 31 at Goulburn,
the lowest score made by an English team in Australia,
•While four players appeared in every match
except one, Peel played in them all. He therefore had the opportunity to
capture 213 wickets (at 7.53 each). He bowled nearly 1400 overs.
Other first-class matches
Return to England
13 March the Melbourne Club gave a farewell dinner.
returned on the Orient Line steamer 'Austral ', without Lord Hawke and
W.Bates (who had left Australia earlier in December and February respectively),
skipper G F Vernon, who followed later, and Andrew Stoddart (who remained to
play on a rugby football tour arranged by Shaw and Shrewsbury).
The 'Austral ' left Melbourne on 17 March 1888. It sailed via Albany and Naples,
on 27 April and sailing on to Tilbury.
not return home until 11 November 1888. The Blackheath rugby football star
was not only manager of the rugby tour of New
Zealand and Australia; he took over the
captaincy, too, after the death of R.L.Seddon of Broughton Rovers.
Time away from England
(15 September - 27 April)
The tour made a huge loss of £3382, which the Melbourne club had to bear.
Accounts of the tour
The tour incurred such a loss that no English teams were invited to Australia for four more years and then only because Lord Sheffield bore the cost.