Thursday, December 2, 2010

1928-29 Tour Footage

Recently I had a great opportunity to view some footage of England’s tour of Australia in 1928-29 shot by Percy Fender. He later wrote a book on the series, The Turn of The Wheel, but he never mentioned that he had shot the film.

The film is silent, with lovely wobbly old captions added by Fender himself. He takes us right through the tour. He starts with stop-overs in Aden and Colombo on the ship out and continues with his train journey from Perth to Kalgourlie and on across the Nullarbor plain. He intersperses footage from four of the five Tests with clips of an 'Old Crocks match' at Rushcutters Bay; Christmas Day on a packed Bondi beach (where the camera lingers slightly too long on one sunbathing woman); a day out at the Melbourne Gold Cup and a few other social events. It is a charming portrait of how life on tour used to be.

The footage shot on the voyage back home is particularly good. The team take a camel expedition in Cairo to see the Sphinx. And back on board we see Jack Hobbs relaxing in his deckchair while Jack White plays battledore, Patsy Hendren throws quoits and Tich Freeman puffs a fag and chats up two female friends.

The most interesting part for me was the early footage of Don Bradman at the age of just 20 years old, and also the only footage I have or know of Archie Jackson who tragically his life was cut short by TB. Many have written that he was better than Bradman, he made his only test century during the 4th Test of this series.

With all the angles, hot spot and a million tour diary’s that will be written long after the current Ashes series is completed, it is nice to sit back and watch a silent film of cricket with aggressive fields and fantastic shot makers wearing little protective equipment against the earliest signs of Larwood’s short bowling.

I got great pleasure from watching this and I hope you do to.

Australian Tour 1928-29 shot by Percy Fender.