Docco’s Diary: Visit of the English Test Cricket Team to St Peter’s College 100 years ago

Posted 16 DEC 2021
Old Scholar News

The visit of the English Test Cricket Team to St Peter’s College 100 years ago on their 1920-21 tour and the success of old scholar CE “Nip” Pellew in the Test matches in this 1920-21 series.

As the England cricketers have been visiting Adelaide for an ‘Ashes’ Test in recent days, old scholars may be interested to know that on several occasions England Test cricketers and other international touring cricket teams have visited St Peter’s College to use the nets and ovals for practice before a Test match at Adelaide Oval.

Research in School magazines suggests that English Test cricketers practised on our School grounds in 1920, 1921, 1924, 1932 and more recently in 1990 and 2015. Perhaps old scholars are aware of other occasions when the English Test cricketers practised here that may not be recorded in School magazines.

The England and Cricket Academy teams at St Peter’s College in 1990

For example, the December 1924 magazine shows English Test cricketers practising on the grounds at Saints during the 1924-25 tour. There are photos of the well-known cricketers A Sandham, EP Hendren, JB Hobbs and AER Gilligan practising in the nets. In 1932 the English cricketers on the controversial 1932-33 ‘bodyline tour’ under Captain DR Jardine practised at St Peter’s College and no one could have foreseen the furore later at the Adelaide Oval when lightning-fast bouncers from Larwood felled the Australian batsmen Woodfull and Oldfield, and bodyline almost severed the links between England and Australia!

Of particular interest was the visit of the English cricketers in November 1920 when they came to Adelaide before the Test matches of the 1920-21 series. It would have been a great thrill for nine boys of the St Peter’s College First XI (LG Bagshaw, LT Gunn, GH Leaver, MW Bednall, EGC Wainwright, RV Pridmore, PK Lee, DL Boucaut and BH Bednall – TL Wilkinson seems to have been the scorer) to have joined fourteen men of the England touring team, the Governor, and also Clem Hill, who had captained Australia, for a match on the Main Oval. LT Gunn had made 144 runs in the 1920 Intercollegiate game – a record at the time, and he went on to play for South Australia. BH Bednall made 121 in the 1921 Intercollegiate Match. MW Bednall was the first Captain of Irwin’s (later Hawkes) House. PK Lee went on to play for Australia in 1931 and 1932. Lee made 89 runs and had match figures of 9/56 in the 1922 Intercollegiate Match. The English cricket team contained some of England’s best cricketers of all time including Jack Hobbs, Wilfred Rhodes, Frank Woolley and EP “Patsy” Hendren. Jack Hobbs (61,760 runs), Frank Woolley (58,959 runs) and Patsy Hendren (57,611 runs) are the three highest run scorers in the history of first-class cricket. Wilfred Rhodes is the leading wicket-taker of all time with 4,204 wickets. One of the St Peter’s boys, GH Leaver, hit Wilfred Rhodes for three fours in his score of 17 not out in this game!

Visit of the English Cricketers, 1920

The Englishmen were here again in January 1921, one hundred years ago, to use our facilities for net practice before the Third Test at Adelaide Oval.

It was in this 1920-1921 series that the finest cricketer produced by St Peter’s College – CE “Nip” Pellew – played in four tests for Australia. He is one of five St Peter’s College cricketers who have played for Australia. In the Second Test in Melbourne he made 116. In the Third Test in Adelaide he made 104. This Test produced a record because the aggregate of 1753 runs was the highest in which all 40 wickets fell. It was ‘timeless” and was played over six days – January 14-20 1921 with January 16 taken as a rest day. Australia won the toss, batted, and made 354. Pellew batted at No 6 and made 35. He was run out when Jack Hobbs, an outstanding cover fielder, threw down his wicket. England made 447 to give them a substantial first innings lead. Batting a second time, Australia were in trouble at 3 for 71, but centuries by Armstrong (121), Kelleway (147) and Pellew (104) allowed Australia to reach a score of 582. They then dismissed England for 370 (Jack Hobbs 123) to win by 119 runs.

Australia won the 1920-21 series 5-0 but Pellew only played in the first four Tests. He asked the Australian Board of Control to release him for the Fifth Test so that he could help on the family farm before the 1921 tour of England. In the four tests of this 1920-21 series, he had scored 319 runs at an impressive average of 53.16.

Born in Port Pirie in 1893, CE “Nip” Pellew was the oldest of four brothers. He started at St Peter’s College in 1908. He played in four Intercollegiate matches (1909-1912) against PAC. All of these matches resulted in victories to St Peter’s College. He usually opened the batting. He scored two fine 80s in his second match in 1910. He took five wickets in 1911 when he was Vice-Captain. In his final year he took 6-48 when he led the team to a seven-wicket victory.

1912 Intercollegiate Cricket team featuring Captain CE “Nip” Pellew (Old Scholar 1908-1912)

A year after the famous 1920-1921 series, we have a photo of the 1922 St Peter’s College Cricket XI, which again includes PK “Perker” Lee (Captain) (Wait’s House (later named Short House) 1922) and HC “Jack” or “Slinger” Nitschke (DAC 1924). Both of these went on to play for Australia. “Slinger” Nitschke made 108 in the 1924 Intercollegiate Match and made nine centuries for South Australia at an average of 42.6. CB Sangster (DAC 1925) went on to play cricket for South Australia. He made 137 in the 1923 Intercollegiate Match.

1922 Intercollegiate Cricket team featuring Captain PK Lee (Wait’s House 1922) and HC Nitschke (DAC 1924)

The Nitschke Pavilion is named in memory of Richard Hastings Nitschke (DAC 1935), who was killed at Benghazi, Libya, North Africa, on 21 December 1941, aged 26 years, during World War II. He played in the Intercollegiate games 1931-1934. He was Vice-Captain of Cricket in 1933 and Captain in 1934. He was the younger brother of HC “Slinger” Nitschke, who had played in the Intercollegiate games 1922-1924. HC Nitschke was Vice-Captain of Cricket in 1923.

David Docwra

David Docwra retired from St Peter’s College in December 2015 after 37 years’ service and will be fondly remembered by many as a dedicated teacher, a committed coach of squash, cricket and soccer, and most especially as a passionate Head of Hawkes House for 21 years.

An early photo of the Nitschke Pavilion, circa 1954