Captain C B Fry was asked to go as captain but had other
commitments - on the Royal Navy training ship Mercury at Hamble, near Southampton
- and prevaricated until late summer. When he finally turned it down, Pelham
Warner (who had led the M.C.C. side in 1903-04) was asked to take the
Warner scored 151 in the first match of the Australian tour but
then fell ill and was unable to play again on the whole tour. He nominated
Johnny Douglas to be skipper in his place although Warner continued to direct
operations from his sick bed.
There are different ways in which a tour’s success can be
analysed but by some measures this one might be regarded as M.C.C.’s most
successful in Australia
even more than Hutton’s in 1954-55, which also recovered from losing the
first Test to win the Ashes. England
came to the first Test in Brisbane
unbeaten in all their preliminary matches but were well beaten by strong
batting and Hordern’s leg-spin. However, the remaining four Test matches were
all won.Jack Hobbs took the laurels
with his batting feat of scoring three centuries but the success of the tour
was surely down to the two opening bowlers Foster and Barnes.
Lord Harris,C B Fry and P F Warner (David Lemmon wrote that C B Fry (chairman), Lord Hawke, Lord Harris
and J.R.Mason chose the team).
Firstly, Mr Tom Pawley,
secretary of Surrey, was invited to act as
manager on 24 July.
C.B.Fry was named as
propspective skipper on 30 June and allowed time to consider taking the
captaincy, but he declined on 16 August and next day Warner was appointed,
being promoted from the vice-captaincy. There was afterwards no official
L Fane, C B Fry, G L Jessop, R H Spooner (business reasons), Frank Tarrant(owing to objections because he was an
Australian); Claude Buckenham.
Tour partyannounced : In June Frank Foster, Jimmy
Iremonger and Jack Hearne accepted places ; in July, Sep Kinneir, Sydney Barnes,
Jack Hobbs, Bert Strudwick, Johnny Douglas, Tiger Smith, Wilfred Rhodes and
Pelham Warner ; in August Phil Mead, George
Gunn, Frank Woolley and Bill Hitch (instead of Buckenham) ; finally, Gilbert Jessop,
who was invited late, made himself unavailable, declining on 23 August and so
Joe Vine was invited instead.
Time between selection and departure from England
(23 August - 29 September)
train on 29 September 1911, the team sailed from Tilbury docks on the ss “Orveito”. Strudwick and Hobbs
were given permission to join the ship at Marseilles.
The M.C.C sailed by way of Naples
(where they were not allowed ashore because of cholera), Taranto,
Port Said and Colombo (21 October) and Fremantle ten days
Delayed on route, they did not arrive at Adelaide until 4 November.
Time spent in Australia
November -8 March)
Pelham Warner, Johnny
Douglas, Frank Foster, Jack Hobbs and Wilfred Rhodes.It might be argued that there was really no
selection committee, and that Warner made all the decisions.
Warner nominated Johnny Douglas as deputy captain when he fell ill on
28 November after the opening tour match. He had some problem with ulcers. Frank
Foster would be captain should further need arise.
Bill Hitch was unable to play because of a strained groin injury in the
early part of the tour.
(Wilfred) Curwen (Sy), 28, played in two matches in upstate Victoria when rested players remained in Melbourne. Curwen was
aide-de-camp to the Governor of Victoria. He took 4-23 in his first match at Geelong.
The programme of fixtures was not finalised or available to the
MCC touring party even when the team landed at Fremantle.
Warner, his wife, George Gunn
and the scorer Campbell left Sydney
on the Orient Line steamer 'Orvieto' on 2 March 1912.Being able to take the almost traditional
procedure of using the same ship, there and back, the cricketers boarded the 'Orvieto'
on 8 March. The ship passed through Fremantle on 12 March.
Travelling overland from Toulon, the team arrived home in London on 8 April 1912
Time away from England
September -8 April )
MCC lost £695 - Warner said that while M.C.C. did not seek
to make a profit from these tours, it did not mean to make a loss either, and
it was rumoured that the Australian Board would make good the loss.
of the tour
“Recovering The Ashes.An
Account of the Cricket Tour in Australia 1911-12”by Jack Hobbs(Pitman, 1912)
Record of a Remarkable Tour"by Pelham Warner(Mills & Boon, 1912).
On return M.C.C. organised a
banquet in the team’s honour at a London hotel
in the Strand.