Touring With Bradman: Alec Hurwood’s 1930 DiaryArchie Mac |
Author: Frith, David
Publisher: The Cricket Press Pty Ltd
Rating: 3.5 stars
This is a diary about Australia’s Ashes winning tour of England in 1930. The tour is mostly remembered for the magnificent batting of Don Bradman, who rewrote the record books. Some of his achievements are still to be surpassed, and his tour is something that only the elite can aspire to. Alec Hurwood’s tour was the opposite of Bradman. He didn’t play in any of the five Tests, and he struggled to claim wickets with his slow bowling.
Hurwood’s lack of success probably makes for a better diary, as his personal disappointments amongst a triumphant team adds a human element. Once he writes “As far as my value to the team is concerned I may as well be home.” The diary entries are usually fairly short and that it was meant as a personal record and not for public consumption is clear. Hurwood often mentions possible contacts and business plans that he intends to utilise as part of his vocation once back in Australia.
Hurwood often talks about touristy type events on the trip over, however the diary takes off once the team reaches England, and Hurwood’s lack of wickets and feelings of inadequacies start to manifest themselves. One person the easy going Hurwood was unimpressed with was tour manger Bill Kelly, who he writes irritated the players. Apparently Kelly gave free tickets to the cricket matches to his friends rather than old players like Warren Bardsley. Hurwood refers to Kelly as a fool and writes that he was unpopular with the team, leaving his duties to the hard working baggage master Bill Ferguson.
Editor David Frith informs that during the tour Kelly was having a dalliance with the manageress of the hotel the Australians stayed at in London. In fact some of the notes by Frith, which never become intrusive, add greatly to the diary by giving context.
As the tour progresses Hurwood starts to hit form and there is the possibility he may earn a call up to the Test team. It doesn’t happen and you have the impression that Hurwood harbours some resentment towards the Aussie captain, the pious Bill Woodfull. There are a few censorious comments about Woodfull in the diary. For instance he writes Woodfull “roared me” after he was late to a match. Hurwood believed there were extenuating circumstances, leaving the impression that he felt the comments were unfair.
There are also insights to some of the Australian team; he describes Bradman as ‘reserved’ and also intimates that the little champ was a bit parsimonious. He suggests wicket keeper Bert Oldfield is ‘neurotic’ and Bill Ponsford “worries frightfully and can think of nothing else but what he will make next innings.”
Hurwood’s best mate on the tour appears to be fellow bowler Percy Hornibrook, despite Hornibrook probably being his main competition for a place in the Test team. Some English critics thought Hornibrook too loose, despite this he helped Australia to win the deciding 5th Test by claiming 7-92 in the final innings.
This is a charming little book, which is not just of historic significance but is also an entertaining read. This is in no small part to the fine production values of the publisher, and the editing of David Frith. Well worth a read.