WG Grace

It had for some years been intended to publish in WISDEN'S ALMANACK a portrait of W. G. Grace, and it was felt before the season of 1895 had been many weeks in progress that the most suitable time had arrived. No one interested in cricket will need to be told that Mr. Grace last summer played with all the brilliancy and success of his youth. In one respect, indeed, he surpassed all he had ever done before, scoring in the first month of the season a thousand runs in first-class matches--a feat quite without parallel in the history of English cricket. As everyone knows, in the course of the month of May he made, on the Gloucestershire county ground at Ashley Down, Bristol, his hundredth hundred in first-class matches, this special circumstance being the origin of the national testimonial which was afterwards taken up with such enthusiasm in all parts of the country, and in many places far beyond the limits of the United Kingdom. It was not to be expected that Mr. Grace would be able to quite keep up the form he showed in May, but he continued to bat marvellously well, and it is more than likely that, had the summer remained fine, he would have beaten his best aggregate in important cricket--2,739 in the season of 1871. The chance of his doing this, however, was destroyed by the wet weather. He could not, at forty-seven years of age, overcome the difficulties of slow wickets as he might have done in his young days, and, though he again scored well as soon as the sunshine came back, there was no time left in which to break his previous records. Still, despite the severe check that his heavy scoring received, he can look back upon a season of wonderful work. His aggregate number of runs in first-class matches is the third highest in his career-only inferior to those of 1871 and 1876 - and his average of 51 is, with a single exception, the best he has obtained since the last-mentioned year. Moreover, he played nine innings of over a hundred, bringing his number of three-figure scores to 107. The details of Mr. Grace's marvellous career are so familiar to all who have any love for cricket that I thought some favourable impressions of the great batsman, contributed by those who had played against him and on his side, would be far more interesting to the readers of WISDEN than a formal biography. I accordingly wrote to Lord Harris and Mr. A. G. Steel, both of whom readily acceded to my wish that they would write something about "W.G." for WISDEN in 1896. Personally, I would only add a few words. Having known Mr. Grace for many years, and seen him make a goodly proportion of his 107 hundreds, I can truthfully say that my feeling of delight when he succeeds, or of disappointment when he fails, has not become less keen with the lapse of time. S.H.P.

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