William Gilbert Grace (1848-1915)
Find out more about a Bristol legend credited with making cricket the first modern spectator sport.
William Gilbert Grace was a doctor by profession, but also one of the best amateur cricketers Bristol has ever produced. With an extraordinary record for sporting ability, Grace's legacy lives on in the modern game today.
With a career spanning almost 40 years, Grace began first class cricket for Gloucestershire back in 1865.
He was an athletic man, who, when not out on the crease, was shooting, hunting and running with beagles.
In 1866, he had so much stamina that two days after running 224 not out for England against Surrey, he won a race at the National and Olympian Association meeting at Crystal Palace in London.
Despite being a fantastic fieldsman with safe hands, quick feet and a good throw, Grace was best known for his incredible batting ability.
During his career he scored 55,309 runs in first class cricket and test matches combined and he is credited with developing many of the techniques of modern batting.
Grace reached his peak in the 1870s when he was averaging between 60 and 70 runs a game. This might not seem like a lot in the modern game, but back then pitches were in poor shape, making scores a lot lower.
As a bowler, he started out with a fast right arm, but later developed a slower, more effective delivery.
Never reaching 200 wickets taken in one season, his record was 191 in 1875 - giving him a grand total of 2,818 wickets taken in the 36 years he played.
He also took all 10 wickets in 1886 when playing Oxford University - Oxford only managed 49 runs.
Nicknamed 'The Doctor', Grace trained in London but did not finish medical school until he was in his 30s. He then opened his own practice in Easton, one of the poorest parts of Bristol at that time.
Playing his last test match at the age of 50, he became secretary and manager of the London County Cricket Club at Crystal Palace. He later moved to Mottingham in south-east London with his wife Agnes.
He died at home on 23 October 1915 and a blue heritage plaque can be seen there in remembrance. Another blue plaque can also be found at his former home off Victoria Square in Clifton.
He is buried in London at Beckenham Crematorium.
last updated: 30/04/2008 at 11:54