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Cricket has witnessed multiple revolutionary figures in its time, but the contributions of William Gilbert Grace, also known as WG Grace, remain as foundation stones for the development of this sport. 

WG Grace was a man of many talents and played multiple sports at a professional level, like football, golf, lawn bowl and curling. He was also a qualified medical practitioner, completing his course in 1979. 

The father of cricket - WG Grace

WG Grace’s family devoted their life to cricket. His elder brother Edward Grace and younger brother Fred Grace, both played Test cricket for England and were the first trio of brothers to represent their country at the international level.

William Grace spent 45 years playing professional cricket for club and country. He made his First-Class debut in 1865 and went on to represent 29 teams at the professional level, including the England national team.  

WG Grace was the first cricketer to surpass the 50,000 mark in First-Class cricket and finished with 54,211 runs. He was a fantastic medium pacer as well, picking up 2,809 wickets in FC cricket. He is the only cricketer to feature in the top 10 list of most runs and most wickets in First-Class history. 

Renowned for his all-round skills as a batter and bowler, Grace constantly innovated his batting style and was revered for his arsenal of shots. Former cricketer Maharaja Ranjitsinhji, who played with the English great in the County Championship, termed him as “The Bible of batsmanship”.

He also played a significant role in improving the business of sports at a time when professional sports like football and cricket were only played by men belonging to a higher society, only for the pleasure of it. For a long time, until the latter years of the 19th century, the governing bodies of these sports prohibited players from earning money as it was deemed against the spirit.

One of the earliest members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), Grace invested a lot of time and energy to shape and reform the rules of cricket and it was during his period that the three stumps in the wicket became a norm. 

WG Grace stats

Level

Matches

Runs

Batting average

Wickets

Bowling average

Tests

22

1,098 

32.29

9

26.22

First-Class

870

54,211

39.45

2,809

18.1

Photo Credit: Alamy

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