England news April 20, 2009

Grace bat to go under the hammer

Cricinfo staff

A 113-year-old bat used by WG Grace will be auctioned at Sotheby's in London next month for an expected £30,000. The legendary cricketer used the bat while bringing up his 1,000th run in Test cricket against Australia at Lord's in June 1896.

Grace subsequently gave the bat to his Australian opponent Syd Gregory, who in turn passed it on to his fellow tourist and brother-in-law Harry Donnan on their return to Australia.

"I would expect it to go for somewhere in the region of £25,000-30,000," said auctioneer Graham Budd. "From the evidence of the cording, Grace had probably used this bat for some time, culminating in his 1,000th Test run."

The bat, to be sold on May 12, displays the autographs of Grace's England colleagues, Australian bowler Fred Spofforth and future British prime minister David Lloyd George.

Grace played 22 times for England and scored the country's first Test hundred against Australia, at the Oval in 1880, and was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1896. Although an automatic choice for England at home, his professional duties as a doctor meant he only travelled on one Test-playing tour of Australia, in 1891-92.