William Gilbert Grace (1848-1915)
Find out about a Gloucestershire legend who by some, has been titled with making cricket the first modern spectator sport.
William Gilbert Grace (W.G. Grace) was a Doctor by profession but also one of the best amateur cricketers Gloucestershire has ever produced. With a record that is extraordinary, the Bristol born legend has still left his mark on the modern game today.
With a career spanning almost forty 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, London.
Legendary cricketer W.G. Grace
Incredible batting ability
Despite being a fantastic fieldsman with safe hands, quick feet and a good throw, Grace was best known for his incredible batting ability. Overall he scored 55,309 runs in first class cricket and test matches combined. Some say that he developed many of the techniques of modern batting.
Grace reached his peak in the 1870’s when he was averaging between sixty and seventy 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 2818 wickets taken in the 36 years he played. He also took all 10 wickets in 1886 when playing Oxford University; Oxford only managing 49 runs.
Nicknamed “The Doctor”, Grace did not finish medical school until he was in his thirties. Training in London, he finished and soon 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 for the London County Cricket Club in Crystal Palace. He then later moved to Mottingham in south-east London, with his wife Agnes.
He died in his home on 23rd October 1915 and a blue heritage plaque can be seen there in his remembrance.
He is buried in London at Beckenham Crematorium.
Article by Claire Carter
last updated: 30/07/2008 at 12:26