Thirty-year project reaches fruition with book to benefit Trust’s coffers

DAVID Shepherd Cricket Trust chairman Guy Curry has lockdown to thank for finishing the book he dreamed about writing 30 years ago that is now raising money for the charity.

A Tour but for the War delves into the Lord’s archives to look at the cancelled MCC tour to India in 1939-40 and the players due to travel there. All England touring sides from 1877 to 1977 went under the MCC banner.

One of those players was touring party captain Jack Holmes, a solid batsman, occasional bowler and skipper of Sussex in the years prior to World War Two.

Holmes was Curry’s grandfather and although they never met – Holmes died two years before Curry was born – they were connected by their love for cricket.

The cover of Guy Curry’s book on the MCC tour of India that was cancelled when war broke out in 1939

Curry, a long-time member and official of MCC, was fascinated by the story of the tour that never was and always hoped he would find time to write a book about it. Successive lockdowns gave him that chance.

“We are all busy people and lots of us have ideas and never do anything about them,” said Curry, a commercial solicitor who works in Exeter.

“Lockdown gave me the time and once I had mapped out the chapters it took about eight weeks to write.”

Curry’s MCC connections helped enormously with the project as he enjoyed unrivalled access to the club’s archives.

“I started researching the tour about 12 years ago and did much of it in the library and among the MCC records held at Lord’s.

“There were two complete folders of documents and letters about the tour to India, the arrangements to get there, the matches and the social functions.

“What did surprise me was how little there was on the players who were due to go. There must have been some discussion about who would go and who was omitted, but absolutely nothing about those decisions in the files.”

Curry looks into the cricket stories of the would-be tourists in a series of biographies complimenting the narrative and anecdotes relating to the tour planning.

Scrapping the three-Test tour was inevitable once war broke out and had unhappy consequences for the majority of the party. For most it was the end of the line.

“My grandfather had not played for England before and never did get to play in a Test match,” said Curry. “He was one of eight tourists who never did play in a Test match.

“Two more – Bob Wyatt and Morris Nichols – had appeared for England before but never played again.”

Holmes never played another First Class match after the end of the 1939 season. He died in 1951 within a few weeks of his 51stbirthday.

Curry said the David Shepherd Cricket Trust will directly benefit from sales of A Tour but for the War.

“When all the costs are covered the book should make a small profit of £3-400, which will go the Trust,” said Curry.

The book is illustrated with images from the author’s own collection and the extensive private archive owned by Roger Mann from Torquay.

Guy Curry has been a cricket fanatic since his schooldays when he became a member of Surry CCC. He was admitted to the MCC 50 years ago and has held a number of committee posts since then. Currently, he is the club’s acting assistant secretary.

The David Shepherd Cricket Trust, of which Curry is chairman, raises money to fund youth cricket development and coaching in Devon. He is also a committee member of the Devon County Cricket Club.

A Tour but for the War is a limited edition of 111 copies. Enthusiasts have been snapping them up at £45 each. Contact Curry by email at to reserve one of the remaining books.