Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
W. G. Grace
William Gilbert Grace (July 18 1848–October 23 1915) was an English cricketer who, by his extraordinary skills, made cricket perhaps the first modern spectator sport, and who developed most of the techniques of modern batting.
8.1 Highest score
W. G. Grace was born at Downend, near Bristol. He found himself in an atmosphere charged with cricket, his father (Henry Mills Grace) and his uncle (Alfred Pocock) being as enthusiastic over the game as his elder brothers, Henry, Alfred, and Edward Mills; indeed, with Edward Mills, as E.M. Grace, the family name first became famous. A younger brother, George Frederick, also added to the cricketing reputation of the family. W.G. witnessed his first great match when he was barely six years old, the occasion being a game between W. Clarke's All-England Eleven and twenty-two of West Gloucestershire.
He was married in 1873 to Miss Agnes Day. One of his sons (W.G. Grace Junior) played for two years in the University of Cambridge XI (and also for Gloucestershire, London County , and the M.C.C.). He didn't live up to his illustrious name, averaging 15 with the bat and nearly 40 with the ball. Another son (C.B. Grace) played a few matches for London County.
Grace was endowed by nature with a splendid physique as well as with powers of self-restraint and determination. At the apex of his career he stood a full 6ft 2in. (1.88m), and was powerfully proportioned, loose yet strong of limb.
He was also a fine runner, 440yds (400m) over 20 hurdles being his best distance, and it may be quoted as proof of his stamina that on 30 July 1866 he scored 224 not out for England v. Surrey, and two days later won a race in the National and Olympian Association meeting at the Crystal Palace.
First Class career
The title of champion was well earned by one who for thirty-six years (1865–1900 inclusive) was actively engaged in first-class cricket. In each of these years Grace was invited to represent the Gentlemen in their matches against the Players , and, when an Australian eleven visited England, to play for the mother country. As late as 1899 he played in the first of the five international contests; in 1900 he played against the players at the Oval, scoring 58 and 3.
He averaged 39.45 at first class level, a figure undoubtedly dragged down by his playing into his late fifties. At his peak in the 1870s his first-class season averages were regularly between 60 and 70, at a time when uncovered, poorly-prepared pitches meant that scores were far lower than the modern game.
At fifty-three he scored nearly 1,300 runs in first-class cricket, made 100 runs and over on three different occasions, and could claim an average of 42 runs. Moreover, his greatest triumphs were achieved when only the very best cricket grounds received serious attention — when, as some consider, bowling was maintained at a higher standard, and when all hits had to be run out. He, with his two brothers, E.M. and G.F., assisted by some fine amateurs, in one season turned Gloucestershire into a first-class county, and it was he who first enabled the amateurs of England to meet the paid players on equal terms and to beat them.
Fielding and bowling
There was hardly a record connected with the game which did not stand to his credit. Grace was one of the finest fieldsmen in England, in his earlier days generally taking long-leg and cover-point, later generally standing point (see Fielding positions in cricket). He was, at his best, a fine thrower, fast runner, and safe catcher. As a bowler he was long in the first flight, originally bowling fast, but in later times adopting a slower and more tricky style, frequently very effective.
ProfessionEaston, a largely poor district of Bristol, employing two locums during the cricket season. It seems that despite his amateur status, the greater part of his income came from cricketing activities.
He was the recipient of two national testimonials: the first, amounting to £1,500, being presented to him in the form of a clock and a cheque at the Lord's ground by Lord Charles Russell on the 22 July 1879; the second, collected by the M.C.C., the county of Gloucestershire, the Daily Telegraph, and the Sportsman, amounted to about £10,000, and was presented to him in 1896.
Grace played his first great match in 1863 when, being only fifteen years of age, he scored 32 against the All-England Eleven against the bowling of Jackson, Tarrant, and Tinley. The scores that first brought him to prominence, however, were made in 1864: 170 and 56 not out for the South Wales Club against the Gentlemen of Sussex. It was in 1865 that he first took an active part in first-class cricket, being then 6ft (1.83 m) high, and 11 stone (70 kg) in weight, and playing twice for the Gentlemen v. the Players, but his selection was mainly due to his bowling powers, the best exposition of which was his aggregate of 13 wickets for -84 runs for the Gentlemen of the South v. the Players of the South. His highest score was 400 not out, made in July 1876 against twenty-two of Grimsby. On three occasions he was twice dismissed without scoring in matches against odds, a fate that never befell him in important cricket matches.
Records and statistics
In first-class matches Grace's highest score was 344, made for the M.C.C. v. Kent at Canterbury in August 1876; two days later he made 177 for Gloucestershire v. Notts, and two days after that 318 not out for Gloucestershire v. Yorkshire, the latter two innings against counties with exceptionally strong bowling attacks. Thus in three consecutive innings Grace scored 839 runs, and was only out twice. His 344 was the third highest individual score made in a big match in England up to the end of 1901. He also scored 301 for Gloucestershire v. Sussex at Bristol in August 1896. His 318 against Yorkshire stood as a Gloucestershire record for 128 years until it was broken by Craig Spearman 's 341 against Middlesex in June 2004.
Grace made over 200 runs on ten occasions, the most notable perhaps being in 1871, when he performed the feat twice, each time in benefit matches, and each time in the second innings, having been each time got out in the first over of the first innings.
Grace scored over 100 runs on 121 occasions, the hundredth score being 288, made at Bristol for Gloucestershire v. Somersetshire in 1895.
He made every figure from 0 to 100, on one occasion closing the innings when he had made 93, the only total he had never made between these limits.
In 1871 he made ten centuries, ranging from 268 to 116.
In the matches between the Gentlemen and Players he scored three figures fifteen times, and at every place where these matches have been played.
He made over 100 in each of his first appearances at Oxford and Cambridge.
Three times he made over 100 in both innings of the same match:
- at Canterbury, in 1868, for South v. North of the Thames, 130 and 102 not out;
- at Clifton, in 1887, for Gloucestershire v. Kent, 101 and 103 not out;
- at Clifton, in 1888, for Gloucestershire v. Yorkshire, 148 and 153.
Partnerships and other miscellaneous statistics
In 1869, playing at the Oval for the Gentlemen of the South v. the Players of the South, Grace and B.B. Cooper put on 283 runs for the first wicket, Grace scoring 180 and Cooper 101. In 1886 Grace and Scotton put on 170 runs for the first wicket of England v. Australia; this occurred at the Oval in August, and Grace's total score was 170.
In consecutive innings against the Players from 1871 to 1873 he scored 217, 77, and 112, 117, 163, 158, and 70.
Grace's highest aggregates were 2,739 (1871), 2,622 (1876), 2,346 (1895), 2,139 (1873), 2,135 (1896), and 2,062 (1887).
Grace scored three successive centuries in first-class cricket in 1871, 1872, 1873, 1874, and 1876.
His portrait was used as the face of God in the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Grace scored over 1,000 runs and took over 100 wickets in seven different seasons:
- in 1874, 1,664 runs and 139 wickets;
- in 1875, 1,498 runs and 191 wickets;
- in 1876, 2,622 runs and 130 wickets;
- in 1877, 1,474 runs and 179 wickets;
- in 1878, 1,151 runs and 152 wickets;
- in 1885, 1,688 runs and 117 wickets;
- in 1886, 1846 runs and 122 wickets.
(statistics taken from The Association of Cricket Statisticians & Historians. Note that Cricket Archive shows that Gilbert Grace took 153, not 152, first-class wickets in 1878.
Grace never captured 200 wickets in a season, his highest record being 192 in 1875. Playing against Oxford University in 1886, he took all the wickets in the first innings, at a cost of 49 runs.
In 1895 Grace not only made his hundredth century, but actually scored 1,000 runs in the month of May alone, his chief scores in that month being 103, 288, 256, 73, and 169, he being then forty-seven years old. He also made during that year scores of 125, 119, 118, 104, and 103 not out, his aggregate for the year being 2,346, and his average 51; his innings of 118 was made against the Players (at Lord's), the chief bowlers being Richardson, Mold, Peel, and Attewell; he scored level with his partner, A.E. Stoddart (his junior by fifteen years), the pair making 151 before a wicket fell, Grace making in all 118 out of 241. This may fairly be considered one of his most wonderful years.
Gentlemen v Players, 1898
In 1898 the match between Gentlemen v. Players was, as a special compliment, arranged by the M.C.C. committee to take place on Grace's birthday, and he celebrated the event by scoring 43 and 31 not out, though handicapped by lameness and an injured hand.
In twenty-six different seasons he scored over 1,000 runs, in three of these years being the only man to do so, and five times being one of only two.
There are several unconfirmed stories regarding Grace. The most popular holds that Grace was bowled out on the first ball of a charity match, but continued to play, exclaiming “They came to see me bat, not to see you bowl”. It is also rumoured that on one occasion he faced a delivery which pitched up rather sharply and went straight through his beard.
During the thirty-six years up to and including 1900, Grace scored nearly 51,000 runs, with an average of 43, and in bowling he took more than 2,800 wickets, at an average cost of about 20 runs per wicket. He made his highest aggregate (2,739 runs) and had his highest average (78) in 1871; his average for the decade 1868–1877 was 57 runs. His style as a batsman was more commanding than graceful, but as to its soundness and efficacy there were never two opinions; the severest criticism ever passed upon his powers was to the effect that he did not play slow bowling quite as well as fast. He played Test cricket against Australia in the 1880s, but he was already past his peak at that stage. He played his last Test at the age of 50.
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| width="30%" |Preceded by:
Walter Read | width="40%" style="text-align: center;" |English national cricket captain
1891/2-1893 | width="30%" |Succeeded by:
- History of Test cricket (to 1883)
- History of Test cricket (1884 to 1889)
- History of Test cricket (1890 to 1900)
- Clifton College - where WG's sons were educated and where on the school Close he scored several notable innings.
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