Test Cricket Tours - South Africa to Australia 1931-32
Tour of Australia & New Zealand 1931-32Captain: Jock Cameron
Sixth official test tour
Second Test-playing tour of Australia by South Africa
First Test tour of New Zealand
(October 1931 - April 1932)
Jack Siedle was selected to tour as vice-captain but he withdrew and his place was taken by Steyn, a 26 year-old student at Pretoria University. Steyn was granted leave to join the tour only when special arrangements were made to let him take his exams in Australia. Consequently, he was not available for the first month of the tour. Even then, he was then given very few opportunities; nor was the deputy wicket-keeper van der Merwe, who was superfluous to requirements and sent back to South Africa.
This tour saw South African cricket take a step back after the successes against MCC in 1930-31, and all of the Tests against Australia ended in defeat.The fifth match was the shortest in Test history in terms of playing time.Played on a ‘sticky’ wicket at Melbourne the South Africans were all out for 36 runs and then, responding to Australia’s 153, were dismissed a second time for 45. Bert Ironmonger took 11 wickets in the match for 24 runs. Much interrupted by rain, the whole match lasted just short of six hours’ playing time.
It was only in New Zealand that South Africa had any success in the Test matches. The South African Cricket Board of Control did not take up New Zealand’s invitation to tour until the South Africans were already in Australia (approving this extension of the tour did not take place until 25 November).
Earlier on, the whole tour was put in jeopardy when the Australian rate of exchange increased and the cost of returning profits to South Africa rose. On 11 June 1931 the South African Cricket Association sent an ultimatum that, without a guarantee of 15% of the net profits, the tour would be cancelled; or the Australians could visit South Africa instead.
Opening batsmen: Bruce Mitchell,Jim Christy, Syd Curnow.
Middle-order batsmenHerbie Taylor, Ken Viljoen, Stephen Steyn, Eric Dalton
All-rounder:Denys Morkel, Quintin McMillan
Wicket-keepersJock Cameron, Edward van der Merwe
Spin bowlersXenophon Balaskas, Cyril Vincent
Fast bowlersNeville Quinn, Lennox Brown, Sandy Bell
X C Balaskas
A J Bell
L S Brown
H B Cameron
J A J Christy
S H Curnow
E L Dalton
D P B Morkel
N A Quinn
S S L Steyn
H W Taylor
E A van der Merwe
K G Viljoen
C L Vincent
Representation of teams:
EP Eastern Province (1)
GW - Griqualand West (3)
N - Natal (2)
T - Transvaal (8)
WP - Western Province (2)
Average age ofteam at time of first Test match
(27 November 1931):
25 yrs9 months
Test Appearances made before the tour
Taylor 36,Cameron 14,Vincent 14,Mitchell 10,Morkel 10,McMillan 7,Bell 6,Quinn 5,Christy 3,Curnow 3,Viljoen 3,Balaskas 2,Dalton 2,van der Merwe 1,Brown 0,Steyn 0.
Mr J H ‘Asa’ Tandy
J H Tandy (convenor of selectors), T E Holmes,H G DeaneandJock Cameron
The captaincy appointment was announced on 22 February;Cameron was invited to join the selectors.
Not considered:Bob Caterall and ‘Buster’ Nupen of Transvaal, “both strong characters used to getting their own way”, were excluded from the fifth Test against England at Durban 1930-31 for reasons “other than cricketing ability” (drinking).
On 18 February the Transvaal Cricket Board passed a resolution saying that the selectors were grossly incompetent and had lost the confidence of players and public alike. The Board urged that they should be removed from office before any attempt to select the side to tour Australia.
Subsequently, to the annoyance of the Transvaal Board, the selectors also left its two players out of the tour party.
Tour Party Announced:25 February 1931.
Not selected:Bob Catterall and Buster Nupen.
Withdrawal: I J Siedle withdrew because his wife was expecting a baby in January.Steyn was given his place in the team and the new vice-captain, Morkel, was named on 6 July 1931.
Time between selection and departure from South Africa
(25 February to 4 October)
Members of the team assembled at Cape Town on 2 October and were given a farewell luncheon, hosted by the manager. They sailed from Cape Town on the ss Anchises at noon on Saturday 3 October.
G L Massey directed the team’s fitness sessions on board ship. Other passengers included the writers Louis Duffus and A A Frew and Mr Arthur Laver, who was a cousin of Frank Laver and a former umpire in South Africa, travelling to visit relatives in Melbourne.
The ship berthed at Fremantle on 18 October, and the team was driven to Perth.
Morkel arrived the next day on the Mooltan from England where he had been playing.
Steyn went to Brisbane on 20 October to sit the examinations that he was missing at Pretoria University; he was unavailable to play until 20 November.
At the end of their Australian tour the team left Sydney aboard the ‘Maunganui’ on 19 February, sailing into Auckland harbour on the morning of Monday 22 February 1932.
•Viljoen was the only member of the side to score a century in the Test series (111 at Melbourne).
Other first-class matches
ϯ Minor matches
Return to South Africa
Steyn returned to South Africa by the ‘Thermistocles’ on 9 February 1932.
It was originally planned that the South Africans would leave for home from Fremantle on 2 March by the ‘Euripides’, but the tour was extended with a visit to New Zealand. van der Merwe did not go to New Zealand; Curnow went there but did not play in any of the three matches.
At the end of their short tour of New Zealand on 8 March, while Herby Taylor took a ship from Auckland to America and then to England, the team sailed from Wellington on the ‘Makura’ to Sydney, taking a train from there to Perth and arriving on the morning of 18 March for the final match against Western Australia.
The tourists sailed out of Fremantle on the ‘Nestor’ on 24 March.They were seen off by Mr S H D Rowe who was to manage the Australians in South Africa four years later.
The ‘Nestor’ reached Durban on the morning of 7 April.The Transvaal and Griqualand players (Vincent, Brown, Mitchell, Balaskas, Viljoen and Quinn) reached Johannesburg by train from Durban the next day.
Cameron and McMillan spent a few more days in Durban. The remaining players sailed on to Cape Town.
Time away from South Africa187 days
(4 October to 7 April)
A guarantee of £1200 was asked for the New Zealand extension to the tour
The South African Cricket Association suffered a loss of Rs 750.They were expecting to get £12 000 from the gate takings but the eventual take was £11 012.On the other hand the players were to be paid a miserly £300 for the tour, but this was increased to £400.
Published accounts of the tour
“A Springbok Down Under : South Africa on tour, 1931-32”by Brian Bassano & Rick Smith (based on the diaries of Ken Viljoen).