Ward's Book of Days.

Pages of interesting anniversaries.

What happened on this day in history

JULY 18th

On this day in history in 1848, was born W G Grace.

William Gilbert Grace was a physician and surgeon who played cricket in his spare time and became the greatest cricketer of all time.

Grace was born in 1848, at Downend, Bristol, into a cricketing family. His father, H M Grace, and uncle, A Pocock, were established cricketers and his brothers, H Grace, A Grace, E M Grace and G F Grace also played. Grace’s sons, W G Grace the younger and C B Grace took up the game later.

Grace was a doctor by profession. He trained at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London and started practice in Easton, Bristol, employing a locum during the cricket season. He always carried a large Gladstone bag, filled with medical requirements, in case of an emergency and set the trend for doctors to carry Gladstone bags.

Cricket was Grace’s true profession.  Many of the techniques, familiar to the modern game, were created by Grace. He developed the pull stroke, the hook shot and, in bowling, brought the leg break to perfection. His famous saying was “Style is ease and ease in strength”.

Grace amassed countless new records, many of which still stand. He scored 54,896 runs, including 126 centuries, took 2,876 wickets. He was an adept fielder, usually at long leg or cover point, and was noted for his safe catching and forceful throw.  In 1876, he scored 344 for the MCC, the first triple century, two days later 177 for Gloucestershire and two days after that 318 for Gloucestershire. He made 10 double centuries in his carer and in 1871 scored 10 centuries in one season. On three occasions in his career, he scored three successive centuries.

Grace also holds the record for the longest hit in history of 36 miles. It must be said that the ball left the ground and landed in the tender of a passing steam locomotive, which did not stop until it reached the next station.

Grace carried on playing until the age of fifty-eight. He practiced medicine until the age of sixty-five and died, aged sixty-seven, in 1915. Grace is buried in Beckenham Cemetery, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, Kent, BR3 4TD.

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2006 Ward’s Book of Days