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ANJITSINHJI once declared that'cricket is certainly amongst the most powerful links which keep our Empire together', but it was a war about gold that forced the independent Afrikaner republics into that Empire. England's cricketers this winter will start their tour 100 years after

State forces had surrounded Kimberley and Mafeking

in the northern Cape. The British forces endured

the start of the Anglo-Boer'War.

The Boer '!U'ar forced former

team-

mates onto opposing sides, killed some fine

cricketers ... and provided some unlikely humour. Rudyard Kipling's cynical

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metaphor for nobility. at the rurn of the cenrury was a chance to live out Henry Newbolt's romantic vision: The Gatling\ jarnmed and tbe Cobnel dead And England's far and Honoar a nanle, But the ooice of a schoolboy rallies the ranhs; Play wp! Pky up! and play tbe garne! Cricket, war and empire were memorably linked at

Crystal Palace in 1900. Sir George r0flhite was the soldier whose 'weakness in letting himself be trapped

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hoodwinked the British public into believing he had fought a fine rearguard action. W'hite's first gambit on returning home was to parade onto a cricket field to meet \[G Grace. The Doctor's warm greetings helped establish the general as a war hero and maintain the myth of Imperial invincibility. '$7'hen Britain refused to withdraw its troops from the Boer republics' borders, war was declared on Oct 17, 1899. V/ithin the week, Transvaal and Orange Free 24lDecemberlWIM

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seven-month siege at Mafeking, aided by the curiously dour strategy of the Boer generals. Colonel BadenPowell made the most of the Boers' righteous refusal to sully the Sabbath with gunfire. A diary entry of court interpreter Sol Plaatjie refers to atypical Sunday:'The usual thing: ;'oy pleasure, merriment, sports, etc, etc.' Plaatjie, a member of the Eccentrics Cricket Club

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who went on to be the first secretary of the African National Congress (ANC), went for a ride beyond the lines and 'saw the Boers so close that I nearly felt inclined to go over and have a chat with them as they were seated on the ridges of their trenches looking at games played so merrily round our camp with longing eyes.' Actually the Boers went further than looking on. They issued a challenge: 'To Colonel Baden-Powell. I see in the Bulauayo Chronicle that your men play

cricket on Sundays and give concerts and balls on Sunday evenings. In case you would allow my men to join in the same it would be very agreeable to me as here outside Mafeking there are seldom any of the fair sex and there can be no merriment without their being

present. \Tishing you a pleasant day, I remain your obliging friend, S Eloff, Commandant of Johannesburg Commando.' Baden-Powell's reply shows quintessential British pluck 'Sir, I beg to thank you for your letter of yesterday ... I should like nothing better - after the match in which we are at present engaged is over. But just now we are having our innings and have so far scored 200 days, not out, against the bowling of [General] Cronje . .. and we are having a very enjoyable game.' Plaatjie extended the crickedng metaphor to the death


toll

'The following is the result of the season's fixtures between Baden-Powell's 400 and Cronje's ten times that number: Baden-Powell 287, Cro$e 19. \7hat a licking!' The Morning Posr's siege correspondent praised the

endurance

of the troops by recalling two of

Lancashire's finest opening batsmen: 'It is a great thingto make a regiment that will charge any place on earth; it is a greater thing to have made a regiment that will sit

tight like the Manchester under heary fire, cracking

"pawky" little north-country jokes that somehow recall the brave days of Hornby and Barlow.'

An earlier attempt to overthrow the Transvaal

government inspired Kipling to write 'If in praise of the leader of the Jameson Raid. 'If you can make one heap of all your winnings/And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss' celebrates the gamble inherent in war and sport, but Lord Hawke's 1896 touring team had a tough dme because of Jameson's folly. The raid's failure was announced to Cape Prime Minister and co-conspirator Cecil Rhodes while he was hosting a lunch for the cricketers. On the way north they were stopped by Boer commandos, and only extricated themselves by giving coaching tips. They arrived in Jo'burg in time to see General Cronje march the Raiders through the streets, but were allowed to join Jameson for dinner in prison. Identities were fluid at the height of Empire. Major RM Poore was chosen for England in 1895-96, but his commanders would only give him leave if he played for South Africa. Poore scored 1399 runs for Hampshire in just rwo months in 1899, before the Boer'War drew him back to South Africa, this time to represent Britain.

The war put a stop to England's planned 1899 tour but, confident the war would be over before Christmas 1900, a South African tour of England was arranged for 1901. The war actually ended in May of the following year, but the tour went ahead.

Jimmy Sinclair made his cricket name by scoring SAs first Test century. He was a big man who once hit eight sixes out of the ground at Newlands. He was also too big for any clothes which his Boer captors could find. He escaped and joined the controversial 1901 tour. On the Boer side, \flestern Province CC member PH de Villiers got VIP treatment from the Lancashire soldiers who captured him, because he had played with their idol, Johnny Briggs. de Villiers was in cricket kit when he was caught and was probably lucky he didn't play for Green Point - their colours are the same as Yorkshire's. de Villiers did not allow captivity onafarg away island to stop his cricket. He arranged for the i Boer Po\ffs to play a Ceylon XI.

I The Yorkshire amateur Frank Milligan was less I fortunate. He was shot dead trying to relieve Mafeking. fr

Among his possessions was a fixture list for 1900. Fever

I claimed thousands of men. The grave of Queen I Victoria's grandson Prince Christian Victor, *ho kept ! wicket for I Zingart, is in Pretoria, where he died of I enteric fever. And a gravestone in Durban reads 'In Memory of Jack Ferris (The Australian Bowler), who died at Durban, 17th Nov, 1900.'Ferris formed one of g Australia's finest new-ball partnerships with Charles fr

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after the ghastly conflict that of thousands of lives, gold is again at the cerrt.. of a dispute between South Africa and Britain.

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The nank of England's decision to sell its gold reserves is causing anger and unemployment in South Africa.

$ Conversation under the sumptuous marquees of i Randjesfontein during the first -atch of the iour had bemer be restricted to cricket, in the interests of peace.

A hla#fer's guBde ts tke S*er War The Boer War began in 1899 and lasted for three years. Hostilities broke out because the Afrikaans-speaking Boers - descended from Dutch settlers who had been in South Africa centuries before the British arrived - felt under threat from British colonists entering the indepâ‚Źndent republics of Orange Free State and Transvaal in search ofgold, The Boers had already moved once, leavingthe coast for new inland areas in the 'Great Trek' of 183!36; they retused to be pushed further into the African interor. A Boer declaration of war was followed by several victories over outnumbered British forces and the sieges of the towns of Mafeking (held by Baden-Powell) and Kimberley. The arrival of lmperial reinforcements ;-.-... ----.' 19OO (many from Australia and New swung the advantage back to Britain and forced the Boers to resort to guerilla tactics. The British responded by annexing states, occupying every major city and attacking the Boers'farms and land. They set up 'concentration camps' into which they herded displaced women and children, Eventually the Boers signed a peace treaty in

ahsv* British pluck: Colonel Bade]}Powell, Britain's commandel at Mafeking. tue!&w Bearded Boer: General Cronje with Gaptain Watenmeyer of the Cape Highlanders

in Zealand) t2

7902. Although there was no intention to kill

those placed in the camps, international

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opinion was outraged when many did die of disease. Kaiser Wilhelm in particular actively supported the Boers - an early signal of the AnglGcerman antagonism which would lead to World War l. il6ike $ash

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Profile for Young and Enterprising

Play up, Play up, and win the war  

Exactly a hundred years ago, England and South Africa were battling it out for real. And as JOHN YOUNG shows, the Boer War had a surprising...

Play up, Play up, and win the war  

Exactly a hundred years ago, England and South Africa were battling it out for real. And as JOHN YOUNG shows, the Boer War had a surprising...