Joe Root seeks crucial gains against familiar leader of the opposition | Vic Marks

The England captain needs runs and victories against a South Africa side who have turned to their former captain Graeme Smith for guidance at a time of disarray

The last time England set off on a winter tour at election time they were also heading for South Africa – in October 1964. On that occasion the political contest had rather more impact on the tour party. Ted Dexter, who had been England captain throughout the Ashes summer of 1964, stood for the Conservatives against Jim Callaghan in Cardiff South East, an undertaking that meant that he was replaced as captain by MJK Smith.

Dexter mustered 22,288 votes in Cardiff but – fortunately for England’s middle-order – Callaghan polled 7,841 more than that and he would go on to be appointed the chancellor of the exchequer in Harold Wilson’s Labour government. So Dexter soon caught up with the tour party in South Africa and became Smith’s vice-captain as well as averaging 57 in the Test series, rather than taking a place in the House of Commons.

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