A.C. MacLaren was unable to raise the team he wanted and
requested the tour be postponed until 1904-05, so, once it was clear that he
would not be coming, the three principal cricket associations in Australia (New South
Wales, Victoria and South Australia) invited
the Marylebone Cricket Club to bring a team instead.This would be M.C.C.’s first touring party
abroad. Lord Harris's influence ensured that Pelham Warner would captain the
party, though the M.C.C. selectors had at first wanted C.B.Fry or Stanley Jackson
to lead it. However, Warner found his side weakened when a number of leading
amateurs were unavailable, while Barnes and Lockwood were not considered.
After having lost four consecutive series against Australia,
England at last won the rubber, by three matches to two… and this without
Sydney Barnes whom Warner had wished to take, but MacLaren warned him against
The highlight of the whole tour was R E Foster’s 287 in the first
Test match at Sydney.
Wilfred Rhodes’ bowling was devastating in the early tour matches and he took
his form into the second Test at Melbourne
where he collected fifteen wickets. Each of these performances was the best
in Ashes Tests for many years.
The third Test was lost but Bosanquet’s googly bowling brought England
victory in the fourth. So England
recovered the Ashes as Warner, who was widely admired for his captaincy,
The only disappointment was that the tour made a large financial
loss of £1500.
was the assistant secretary of M.C.C. at Lord’s.
A G Steel (chairman),Hon Alfred
Lyttelton, W H Patteson,A J
WebbeandPelham Warner (captain).
However, Lord Harris and his
chosen captain P F Warner were most influential in picking the side.
On 4 June 2003MCC confirmed the invitation to Warner to
captain the side had been accepted. C B Fry and F S Jackson both declined the
On 24 July the names of
twenty-four players were announced
Unavailable:Warner found that at least ten of the leading amateurs were unable to
tour, includingC B Fry, E W Dowson, F
S Jackson, G L Jessop, H Martyn, L C Palairet, K S Ranjitsinhji. A C MacLaren declined to tour under Warner.
Tour Party Announced : end of July 1903.
Albert Knight was a late addition to the side when R H Spooner,
who was invited at the beginning of September, declined to tour.M.C.C. decided not to select a fifteenth
Time between selection and departure from England
(July - 26 September)
The team left St Pancras Station by rail for Tilbury Docks where
they boarded the 'Orontes. They
sailed on 26 September 1903. Six
members of the team (Hayward, Tyldesley,
Arnold, Lilley, Hirst and Rhodes) would join the ship at Marseilles, as would Bosanquet who was too late
to board the steamer.
The ship stopped at Plymouth,
Gibraltar, Marseilles (to pick up the rest of
the team), Naples, Port
Said and Colombo.Again there was no match in Ceylon.
The ship reached Fremantle on 29 October and Adelaide four days later.
Time spent in Australia
October -21 March)
Warner alone chose the team.
George Drummond, 20, an old Harrovian who toured West Indies with Lord Brackley's team the following
year, was accompanying the team.G.S. Whitfield (who would appear in 3 matches for Sussex in
1908), 25, appeared in two minor matches each, when Ted Arnold was unfit.
The programme of fixtures was arranged by the Melbourne Club.
The Tests were timeless
Originally the programme was intended to end with matches against Western Australia and
a Goldfields XI
•Arnold took Trumper's
wicket with his first ball in Test cricket.
on debut at Sydney,
R.E.Foster's score of 287 stood as the record individual Test score for 26
innings reached 577, Len Braund scoring 102. and Wilfred Rhodes 40* in a
record last wicket stand of 130
with 15 wickets on a wet pitch at Melbourne
had the best match figures in Test history at that time, and with 31 wickets
in the series was consistently good throughout.
bowler Bosanquet's 6-51, including a spell of 5-12, secured the Ashes in the
return at Sydney.
Other first-class matches
On 17 March 1904 the team
sailed from Adelaide on the RMS 'Orontes'.On
arrival at Fremantle on 21 March, they disembarked for a few hours and played
a football match but they did not play any cricket, as had been hoped for.
The ship passed Perim in the
Red Sea on 7 April, and reached Marseilles
on Saturday 16 April. It proceded to London after
the team had disembarked to travel overland to Paris.
They caught the boat train,
crossing from Dover to Calais
on the 'Queen', and pulled in to Victoria Station on 17 April -
without Foster, who had remained in Paris.
Time away from England
September -17 April )
The Marylebone Club had sent
out a side on the same basis that Australian teams toured England,
namely half the proceeds on the gate. This income was needed to cover all the
amateurs’ expenses, with £300 and
expenses for the professionals plus, it was hoped, a bonus.
As the tour’s financial secretary
R E Foster unfortunately reported a large deficit. He accounted for it because Australian
teams played some thirty first-class matches while on this tour there were only
nine apart from the Test matches, and even these were affected by poor weather.
The MCC’s expenses were £9700, with “much unnecessary expense entailed through
want of Australian experience on the part of the manager.” (Adelaide
of the tour
"How we Recovered the Ashes"by P F Warner (Chapman & Hall, London 1904) and (Centenary Edition, Methuen
Publishing Ltd 2004)
"Bringing Back The Ashes"by 'Looker on' (J H Stainton) ;
"Warner's Team"by Archibald Sinclair(Cricket Press : Edmund Seale, 1904)
“The M C
C Tour to Australia
1903-04”by Ronald Cardwell(Cricket Publishing Company, Sydney, 1988)
– limited edition of 287 copies
1903-04”tour diary of R E Foster
– ms in MCC Library at Lord’s
Relf’s tour diary” – ms in Sussex CCC Library at Hove
It was generally accepted in Australia that private tours had
had their day. In future teams of English cricketers would come under the
aegis of the Marylebone Club who would like to make a profit but regarded
even more important its role to promote cricket outside England and bind the
Empire to the mother country.