Test-playing tour of England
by South Africa
(April -September 1951)
Dudley Nourse was appointed
captain and, now that Alan Melville was off the scene, Eric Rowan made
vice-captain. Manager Sid Pegler considered sending Rowan home for his
response to the crowd’s attitude at Old Trafford but Rowan apologised. He had
sat down on the pitch in protest at raucous barracking when the South
Africans were scoring slowly against Lancashire.
In truth all the tourists’ batsmen scored slowly almost right through the
tour, and Rowan was acting responsibly, given the inexperienced batting to
However, on arriving home he
was presented with a letter saying that he would not be chosen for the
forthcoming tour of Australia,
either because of the Manchester incident or
because of what went on in Holland
when Rowan was left in charge of the tour party. A safer choice might have
been Jack Cheetham or even the uncapped Russell Endean. He was chosen as
wicket-keeper in preference to Bob Williams because of his superior batting
ability, but would otherwise have been South Africa’s captain in three
hockey Tests against the British touring team in August and September.
Africa achieved a stunning victory in the first
Test when skipper Nourse made 208 in great pain from a broken thumb before
Athol Rowan and ‘Tufty’ Mann bowled England out with a winning margin
of 71 runs. They lost the next two matches badly but at Headingley hit up 538
runs with 236 of them coming from Eric Rowan’s bat..
The touring side was badly hit
by several injuries and illnesses. Melle was out of action for six weeks
after having a hernia operation in mid-tour and Nourse, who had played on
after his injury, entered hospital after the final Test for a third operation
on his thumb, which then did not heal for a year. Athol Rowan’s bowling was
saved for the Test matches as he struggled in such pain with his right knee that
Tayfield was flown over to assist the side. His fellow spinner Mann was taken
ill soon after the Fourth Test and remained in England for a serious operation when
the tour party sailed home.
Arthur Coy (chairman of selectors), Tup Holmes,Frank Lambert,Sydney Pegler, Carl Schwabe.
The South African Board appointed the manager on 1 October
The selectors announced the names of 24 triallists on 23 January.
withdrew from the trials for business reasons.
Nourse was appointed captain on 1 February 1951, and Eric Rowan made
Unavailable:J C Watkins (Natal).
Tour Party Announced:19 February
selected : Nine triallists were
eventually left at home.
Batsmen Gerald Innes, Lloyd Koch and Keith Kirton
were the other tour reserves besides Tayfield.
Time between selection and departure from South Africa
(19 February to 6 April)
The ‘Arundel Castle’
on 29 March.Accompanied by three
newspapermen, the team sailed from Cape
Town on 6 April.
They sailed via the Canary Islands, arriving at Southampton on 20 April.
Time spent in England
(20 April - 20 September)
Dudley Nourse (captain),Eric Rowan (vice-captain), Syd Pegler
(Manager), Geoff Chubb.
There was such doubt over the
fitness of Athol Rowan’s war-wounded leg that Hugh Tayfield was flown over to assist the side. At the end of
the tour Rowan despaired of his knee ever improving and decided to retire
from first-class cricket.
The touring side was badly hit
by other injuries and illnesses. Melle was out of action for six weeks after
having a hernia operation in mid-tour and Nourse played after breaking his
thumb three weeks before the Test matches began. He entered hospital after
the final Test for a third operation on his thumb, which then did not heal
for a year.
Mann was taken ill soon after the Fourth Test. He remained
for an internal operation when the tour party sailed home but never fully
recovered and died the following July, aged 31.
Geoff Chubb, aged 40, was the oldest man in the tour group but
one of the few to remain fit throughout.
•Dudley Nourse’s thumb was broken in the
first Test at Trent
Bridge but he went on
to score 208.
Athol Rowan (5-68) and ‘Tufty’ Mann (4-24) secured South Africa’s victory
•South Africa notched up 538 at
Headingley with major contributions from Mansell, van Ryneveld and McLean but
especially an innings of 236 from Eric Rowan. It was the highest South
African score against England.
•Geoff Chubb captured
5-77 at Lord’s and 6-51 at Old Trafford, and ended the series with 21
Other first-class matches
The team travelled by train from Waterloo Station in London to Southampton on Thursday 20 September 1951 and
sailed on the Union-Castle steamer ‘Winchester Castle’,
bound for Cape Town, except for McCarthy (who would
be studying at Cambridge University)
and Mann (for medical treatment). Mann stayed in England for three months before
The ship arrived at Cape Town on 4
October and sailed on to Durban.
Time away from South
(6 April to 4 October)
accounts of the tour
in England”by C O Medworth (Werner Laurie, 1952).
chapter 5 ‘The Draw Specialists’in “Testing Times: the story of
the men who made South African cricket”by Luke Alfred (Spearhead 2003)