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The Father of Cricket: Who Is It? | Royal Palace

Father of Cricket W. G. Grace

Father of Cricket
W. G. Grace

Father of Cricket – William Gilbert Grace MRCS LRCP was an English amateur cricketer who was important in the development of the sport and is widely considered one of its greatest players.

Cricket is a game that is rich in history and folklore. It is one of the oldest sports played even in current times. Originally though, cricket came from the public schools in England where it was played by students for fun and leisure. As it became popular, it undertook various forms before becoming an important part of UK society. 

At the very beginning, Cricket used to be played between Gentlemen and Players. The former were batters, and the latter were bowlers and fielders. That’s also from where the term, ‘Gentleman’s Game’ originated for Cricket. This was one indication of the class-driven society of the Victorian Era in Britain, but it provided a chance for players to improve their livelihood and step onto the bigger stage of playing sports for the country. 

This growth in the UK eventually drove the game to all Commonwealth nations as well, that were under the rule of the British at some point in history. Australia was one of the first countries that accepted Cricket, and the traditional rivalry, Ashes originated as a result between Australia and England. Following this, the game became immensely popular in the South Asian countries, India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan where it is played even today. These countries have the highest audience base for Cricket all over the world. While Cricket evolved a lot over the past two centuries, it is worth knowing the history of the beautiful game. 

The Father of Cricket 

If you look at the history of Cricket, you will find many prominent figures who have influenced how the game has evolved. Out of them, W.G Grace stands out due to his invaluable contributions to the game. Although the game had always been popular among the British high-ranks, Grace provided governance and helped it expand to larger people irrespective of their class and status. 

Father of Cricket
Father of Cricket

During his time, he was a pioneer with excellent capabilities with the bat, ball, and on the field. He used to play cricket while also fulfilling his duties as a doctor. Physically though, Grace was famed for his paunch and his love for beer, and he had a fascinating career spanning across 44 seasons in England’s First-Class cricket. He also represented the national team of England in 22 tests and Grace was one of the first members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). 

Grace’s Perspectives About Cricket 

At the time when Cricket was becoming a sensation in the country, Grace had authored two books – Cricket and Reminiscences. He believed that cricketers are not born with talent and skill they have to develop it over time through practice and quality guidance. Unlike the perception of Cricket at that time, that it had to be calm and silent, Grace believed that it had to be played with full zeal and there was nothing wrong with being noisy on the field. He was extremely competitive and always played to achieve victory. 

Father of Cricket
Father of Cricket

Grace as a Batter – According to some historical notes on Grace, he is described as a very ‘correct’ batsman. He played right-handed, and he played his shots with a straight bat towards the bowler. The notes describe that he was a very powerful straight-driver of the cricket ball. 

Grace as a Bowler – He was one of the first bowlers to use the round-arm action, and this enabled him to vary his pace and swing his slower deliveries towards the leg-side of the pitch. He used to maintain a disciplined line and length, and although he initially bowled fast-medium pace, the speeds reduced over time. At the latter stages of his career, he achieved more of a leg-break action, and he persisted with the round-arm although the over-arm action was becoming popular at that time. 

Grace as a Fielder – Historical accounts say that he was an exceptional fielder, and used to throw the ball long distances on the field. There have been reports of Grace throwing the ball for 122 yards at an athletic event. He achieved this arm strength through this stone-throwing practice at crows during his childhood. In the later stages of his career, he mentioned the falling standards of the English cricket team and blamed it on the reducing number of boys who were country-bred who would strengthen their arms by throwing rocks at birds, in their agricultural fields.  

Grace and Other Sports 

Even beyond cricket, Grace was an outstanding athlete. He had even won the 400-meter hurdles title at the National Olympian Games held in 1866. He also played football for the Wanderers Club but he never featured in any FA-Cup teams. 

As he became old, his family moved to Kent, he became fascinated with lawn bowls. He was the founder of the English Bowling Association back in 1903 and he became the association’s first president. Due to his efforts, he built an international competition that involved England, Ireland, Wales, and Scotland and he captained the national team from 1903 until 1908. 

Apart from this, he was also interested in curling and following that, golf. 

The Legacy of Grace 

Over his career, W.G Grace scored over 54,000 runs and took more than 2,800 wickets as a bowler. His career was so long-lasting that he has become one of the most remarkable cricketers ever to have played the game, irrespective of his activities to spread it in the country. Also, he had taken more than 870 catches in first-class cricket, and this makes him among the game’s greatest cricket all-rounders even today. 

There are many stories of Grace as well, which may or may not be true, or even exaggerated due to lack of reliable historical records. But, according to them, Grace had once picked the bails up when he was clean bowled, and then simply put it back on and continued his batting. No player at that time could argue against that. In another incident, when the umpire called him out for LBW, he refused to walk out saying to the umpire that the crowd had come to see him and not the umpire. 

The W.G Grace legacy still lives on today, and the entrance to the famed Lord’s Cricket Stadium is called Grace Gates. It’s been more than 150 years since his first professional game, and his impact still lives on. 

Also Read:- List of Top 10 Indian Cricketers in the World

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