The Tour That Never Was

Published: 2019
Pages: 19
Author: Gibbons, Roger
Publisher: GCCC Heritage Trust
Rating: 3 stars

This week and next we are reviewing four booklets that have just been published by the Gloucestershire County Cricket Club Heritage Trust. Three, including this one, are brand new and In Memoriam a reprint of a title previously issued in 2015.

In the 21st century English counties regularly go off on tours around the world, usually for just a few days. In times gone by such visits were very much the exception rather than the rule. For Gloucestershire the first overseas trip was to Bermuda in 1962 and, as an aside, that would be an interesting subject for a future booklet. The trip lasted three weeks and, a year before the first limited overs competition began in England, consisted of nine one day matches and, right at the end, a two day match against the ‘national team’, with the locals enjoying the best of a draw in that one.

The first Gloucestershire overseas tour might, however, have been a quarter of a century earlier. In the off season of 1936 negotiations took place with the BCCI that, had they borne fruit, would have resulted in sixteen Gloucestershire players spending the greater part of six months of the winter of 1937/38 touring India.

Roger Gibbons begins his account with a brief history of Anglo-Indian cricketing relations, before moving on to introduce the two men who were the main movers in the negotiations from the Gloucestershire side. From there, using the contents of a long forgotten file of correspondence that was rescued during a redevelopment of the club’s old museum, he has pieced together what took place.

The issues were varied. Money of course was one, as was the availability of players, the Indians understandably being anxious that the likes of Walter Hammond and Charles Barnett were able to tour. In the end the club had problems making the arrangements and putting a side together and eventually the Indians stopped corresponding. It is the history books rather than any correspondence from the BCCI that informs the reason, the no doubt rather more attractive prospect of a visit from a strong MCC side led by former England captain Lionel Tennyson.

The Tour That Never Was is an interesting glimpse at what was, for the time, a ground breaking idea and it is a tale that is told very well. It is a little frustrating to see the 1933/34 MCC Tour of India attributed to 1934/35, compounded for fans of the Iron Duke by their hero not getting a mention at all, but that minor grumble apart this excellent booklet is certainly recommended.

Anyone interested in buying this or any of the other booklets can contact the author via email at gibbonsroger044@gmail.com. The price is, including UK postage and packing, a very reasonable £5 or, for multiple purchases, £12 for any three or £15 for all four booklets. An additional incentive to would be purchasers is that, naturally, all proceeds go to help the Gloucestershire museum, a very worthy cause indeed. An alternative route to purchase for those in the southern hemisphere is via Roger Page.

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