As in 1934-35 M.C.C. sent an understrength team, which West Indies beat by two matches to nil. Many leading
players were resting before the visit of the 1948 Australians, so Bedser,
Compton, Edrich and others were not available. Eventually, injuries dictated
that Hutton would have to be brought over to reinforce the touring party. He
was the first player to fly out to support an English team on tour.
His fellow opener Jack Robertson scored 390 runs in the Test
matches but his invaluable role tends to be overlooked because of the part
played by Billy Griffith in an emergency when England
had only eleven fit players at Port
of Spain. Griffith
opened the innings and scored his maiden century,140, to save England from
the first two Test matches but West Indies
always held the initiative and won the next two to repeat their series
victory of 1934-35 . With an opening bowling attack of Allen (aged 45) and Butler (34), neither
properly fit, Jim Laker, capturing 18 wickets in the Tests, soon became the
'Plum' Warner accompanied the
team throughout the tour.
A J ‘Jack’ Holmes (chair),John Clay, Walter Robins.
Unavailable : Trevor Bailey (declined his invitation
because of his Cambridge examinations), Alec Bedser (business reasons); Denis Compton (operation on right knee); Bill Edrich (business reasons); Len.Hutton; Cyril Washbrook; Doug Wright; Norman Yardley (business).
In early October 1947 the Ministry of Labour decideded that
Gerald Smithson, a 'Bevin Boy' called to serve his national service in the
mines, would not be available to tour because he was not due for release from
Askern Colliery near Doncaster until January
1948.M.C.C. then investigated whether
he could fly out and catch the team up but meanwhile Mr George Isaacs, the
Minister of Labour, stated in a written answer to the House of Commons that
the the National Coal Board was prepared to grant leave on condition that
Smithson would complete his national service obligation immediately on
On 25 August the names of the first thirteen invited
were given out. On 14 September Hardstaff’s inclusion was announced.; on 8
October Laker and Tremlett; on 21
October Wardle ; on 30 October Smithson.
Tour party completed : 30 October 1947.
Time between selection and departure from England
(30 October -23 December)
The southern county players (Allen, Robertson, Griffith, Evans,
Laker, Tremlett and Smithson, who was staying at Abingdon) took the train up
to Liverpool from Euston Station. The team
sailed from Liverpool on the ss 'Tetela'on 23 December 1947 (whereas today the
ECB try to ensure the players are at home for Christmas):
“….. Allen and his under-strength party set out for the Caribbean in a poorly-ballasted banana boat in late
1947.With the ship pitching and
rolling violently in the Atlantic storms, it was a ghastly voyage…..” Tim
Quelch Bent Arms and Dodgy Wickets
…. to Bridgetown,
arriving on 6 January 1948. 'Plum' Warner
travelled with the team.
“The MCC party boarded an empty banana boat called the Tetela at Liverpool on a raw grey
afternoon a few days before Christmas 1947, bound for the West
Indies. It was a small ship, only 2500 tons, and it looked as if
it would bob up and down on the great seas of the Atlantic
like a rowing boat on the Serpentine… we tried to keep fit on that banana
boat. Gubby Allen, the captain, aged forty-five, took his exercise skipping
on the deck of the Tetela as it bobbed up and down on the Atlantic.
And then it happened: he strained his back.”Godfrey Evans The Gloves are Off (1960)
Time spent in West
January -10 April)
(captain),Ken Cranston (vice-captain), Billy Griffith
(assistant manager), Joe Hardstaff (senior professional).
boat journey out Gubby Allen pulled a calf muscle while skipping to get fit
(Allen was second only to W G Grace as England’s oldest Test
skipper).Harold Butler tore a muscle
in his leg in the first match and could not play at all in the latter part of
the tour because of malaria.Joe
Hardstaff missed a month with a pulled hamstring.
Len Hutton replaced
Denis Brookes (broken finger).Allen
had cabled for a reinforcement on 2 February. On behalf of Compton and
Edrich, Middlesex declined, as did Yorkshire
on Hutton's behalf, because of the strenuous 1948 season coming up.M.C.C. had also sounded out Charles Barnett
and Cyril Washbrook. When the
Yorkshire club changed its mind, Hutton was rushed down to London Airport
(Heathrow) He stepped off the plane in Georgetown
on Sunday 15 February after three days of travelling.
Meanwhile Crawford White,
a fast bowler for Lancashire 2nd XI in the 1930s, now touring as a journalist
for the News Chronicle, was standing
by to play in the British Guiana match. He and E W Swanton of The Daily Telegraph
had already played in the match against South Trinidad
on 1 February.
Dennis Brookes (who was at first expected to sail home on the oil
tanker 'Niso') flew back from Trinidad.
Crawford White, E W Swanton and fellow journalist Brian Chapman
left on Monday 5 April flying to New York
where they embarked on the ‘Queen Mary’
to cross the Atlantic. Len Hutton and Harold Butler flew out on
the same day to Bermuda where they changed to a BOAC plane to New York and thence to London.
Because M.C.C. would be waiting ten days for their ship home, the
Jamaican cricket authorities suggested a fifth Test Match, which M.C.C.
rejected, and then a minor match against St James XII at Montego
Bay.'Billy' Griffith wound up the final matters of the tour in Kingston.
The team sailed from Port Antonio in the ss 'Cavina' on 10 April 1948.
Time away from England
December - late April )
of the tour
record of the MCC tour to the West Indies in 1948”published by Shell Leasehold Distributing Co
and Petroleum Marketing Co (West Indies) 1948