By Keith Walmsley, ACS Publications, pp 205, £16
South American cricket had just passed its peak when a group of cricketers from Argentina, Brazil and Chile (hence the ABC Tour) toured Britain in 1932, playing 19 matches of which six were rated first-class. As a result of substantial careful research, unveiling much new material, Keith Walmsley has produced the first comprehensive account of the tour, using not only reports in the English press, but coverage by contemporary English-language newspapers from Argentina and Chile and those in Spanish from Argentina.
Three chapters comprise a chronological account of matches played and describe the difficulties the tourists faced. The weather was vile so that conditions were very different from the hard, dry pitches the players were used to. The cricket was continuous, often six days a week, whereas the players were used to one- or two-day matches at weekends. The tour lasted from the 16th May to the 15th of July, within which, in addition to the cricket, 15 social events were organised.
Although of a good standard, the squad was not the strongest that could have been chosen. Almost immediately after proposals for the tour were announced, world economic conditions deteriorated and financing it became a problem. South America was hard hit by the Great Depression and several players, particularly from Brazil and Chile, were unable to take part. The effects of these global events played a major role in the selection and availability of players. The tour also had a role to play in promoting British interests in South America.
The remainder of the book places the tour in the context of the history of British economic involvement in South America, especially in agriculture and the railways, and the development of cricket in South America from its beginnings in the 1830s to its peak in the early 1900s and then its slow decline to the present day.
Full scorecards of all the matches and biographies of the players involved are provided in Appendices. There is also a set of carefully chosen illustrations.
At last the tour has proper recognition. This is a most enjoyable book which can be thoroughly recommended. The author has set an extremely high standard for future productions in what is intended as a new series on cricket tours.
Roy Morgan (The Cricket Statistician, Spring 2023)