With an unforgiving and ill-managed scheduling, players often ask for rest even if they’re playing shorter formats these days but back in 1930, when shorter formats didn’t even exist, England played 2 Tests on the same day and in different continents which hadn’t happened before or since. Be assured it isn’t a troll post and we are not trolling English Team for sometimes playing horrible Test cricket.
- Till 1977, it wasn’t the English team which used to tour overseas. When England played at home, they were called England but whenever they were sent away, it was MCC who used to play those games. MCC used to govern English Cricket and send sides abroad, much like how BCCI governs Indian cricket.
- In 1920s, the ICC known as Imperial Cricket Conference back then understood the need to expand Test Cricket. Only Australia, England and South Africa used to play Test Cricket back then.
- In May 1926, ICC gave Test status to New Zealand and West Indies making them eligible to play Test cricket.
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West Indies toured England in 1928 but was beaten comprehensively. MCC knew that it was also important to send English side to tour those two new countries if they really wanted to promote Test cricket there. England, though used to tour New Zealand on a regular basis. Every time they went to Australia for the Ashes, they used to travel to New Zealand to play some fun games. Those matches were not granted the status of official matches.
With England already having tight schedule – A tour of South Africa in 1930-31, and 2 tours of Australia for the Ashes in 1928-29 & 1932-33, only 1929-30 season was left for England to tour. Instead of choosing between West Indies and New Zealand, MCC decided to send their teams to both the countries at the same time.
The decision was taken but the implementation wasn’t easy since they had to find players to make two sides. That too when none of their players were interested in playing an away series straight after the Ashes.
Arthur Gilligan, the regular England captain withdrew his name from the tour on health grounds. His elder brother Harold Gilligan was made captain of the side which was travelling to New Zealand. The other 14 members of his side lacked International pedigree. 9 of those 15 players had never played for England while 5 players had just made their debuts last year. It was a relatively rookie side but proved to be enough to win against New Zealand which itself was a new Test side. The four match Test series started on 10th January 1930 and ended in favor of England who won the series 1-0.
The second team which was sent to West indies was a slightly stronger one as WI had given serious challenge despite losing to the home side when they traveled to England in 1928-29. While the side that went to New Zealand was filled with newcomers, this side had a lot of ‘ veterans ‘.
George Gunn was 51 years old and had last played for England 18 years ago. Nigel Haig, 41 and he last featured for England in 1921. The most in demand was Jack Hobbs and he too would’ve turned 47 by the time series was scheduled to start. Wilfred Rhodes was the oldest of all. He was 52 and he last played for England in previous century. This must look staggering for modern day viewers as players nowadays hardly play till their 40s but demands from cricketers were a lot less in those days.
Freddie Calthorpe, who was 39 was given the responsibility of leading the side. This series started on 11th January 1930, a day after the NZ series had started. The first Test was a draw, England won the second one and lost the next Test. The series now stood at 1-1 with a Test to go.
The fourth Test was was played in April and it was a historic one with it lasting for 9 days. England made a total of 849 in their first inning but didn’t enforce the follow-on even when they had the opportunity. The captain sighted the reason of aging side behind this decision. West Indies were given a target of 836 and they finished Day 7 at 408-5. Relentless rain washed out the next 2 days and with an English side consisting of half their players over 40, they didn’t want to play any more and hence the Match was drawn with the mutual agreement. The series ended with the scoreline of 1-1.