Posted by: tootingtrumpet | December 25, 2015

Christmas on Tour – Hugh Fatt-Barstad

Wally calling a no ball at nets

No ball!

With Wally indisposed with what was officially described as “discomfort”, we needed another Hitler for the traditional Christmas Fancy Dress Party on The Colonel’s 1956-57 Tour. Fortunately, the Daily Mail’s man was able to step in, apparently always travelling with the costume in the suitcase for “special occasions”. I did my usual turn as one of the Black and White Minstrels (which amused the hotel staff whenever they were allowed into the ballroom) and Nurse won the prize (a box of cigars) for her Henry VIII. Since we were playing the Third Test against Jonny Boer starting on Boxing Day, we were under a strict 2am curfew, so we left the Press boys at the bar – well, under it mainly – and went to our beds (not strictly “ours” in some cases, but we were young, free and, for the purposes of the tour, single).

The Colonel had squared things with Johannes van der Sjambocksmasher, the Boks’ skipper, so I was able to get 40 winks after the team photograph was taken with our openers getting through to lunch on 43-0  after 45 eight ball overs. Most of the lads were still a bit queasy to take on much of the elephant steak and boerewors fare on offer and I was struggling with my usual G and T to be honest, but we got through the afternoon session only a couple down with everyone feeling much perkier when the biscuits came round at 4.00pm.

By about five, most of the Press boys had surfaced and I was briefing them on the afternoon’s play so they could meet their deadline, when a couple of wickets went down and I was forced to pad up with the score 120-5. Fortunately Wally, who had retired hurt with uncontrollable itching earlier in the day, got us through to the close, and I had plenty of time to dress for dinner.

The next day was designated one of the two rest days scheduled for each Test, so The Colonel had organised a shooting party for the Gentlemen up on the High Veldt, while the players “wrote” their newspaper columns and did a little painting and decorating around the ground to earn a little cash to pay off gambling debts incurred on the outward voyage.

DR Jardine was working for the Express and was a decent shot, having single-handedly reduced the tiger population of Cawnpore District to fewer than 10 on his 1936-37 tour, so he led the Press and we fell in behind – literally in Wally’s case as, still a little dizzy with the penicillin shots, he slid into a river and was only rescued from going over the falls by a couple of brave native bearers whom, once they had been revived, he had the good grace to reward with a shilling each.

We only bagged a pair of lions and three rhinos, which felt like meagre pickings for a full eight hours trek, but Jardine seemed pleased enough with that haul and only a couple of guides were hit by buckshot and they were expected to recover, so it went down as a successful day.

Wally got a century when the Test resumed and, though The Colonel enforced the follow-on (very much against the team’s wishes), the game fizzled out into a draw, which frankly spoiled our preparations for the New Year celebrations.      


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