In Gentlemen v. Players matches, 1907

W. G. Grace

The fact that on the 18th July-the day on which he completed his fifty-eighth year- W. G. Grace played an innings of 74 for the Gentlemen furnishes sufficient excuse, if any were needed, for giving in detail a record of his doings in Gentlemen v. Players matches. The chances are that he will not again be seen in the Gentlemen"s Eleven, and if this be so he made a worthy end. Alike as regards duration of time and magnitude of achievement, his record is without parallel and has never been even distantly approached. Playing first for the Gentlemen both at the Oval and Lord"s in 1865, when a lad of just under seventeen, he has in the whole series of matches scored 6,008 runs with an average of 42, and taken 271 wickets for less than nineteen runs apiece. The bowling figures go far to support the late Bob Thoms"s contention, that if W. G. had not been the greatest batsman in the world he would have been the greatest slow bowler. Looking through the wonderful array of figures, one is perhaps struck most of all by the fact that the first and last of his seven hundreds for the Gentlemen at Lord"s were divided by a period of twenty-seven years. He made his 134 not out in 1868 before he was twenty and his 118 in 1895 within ten days of his forty-seventh birthday. The two innings were as regards merit almost on an equality, W. G. in some mysterious way renewing in 1895 all the power of his youth. Since then his batting has naturally declined with the lapse of years, but even at the Oval last July there was something to suggest the brilliancy of former days. Happily the time has not yet come to review W. G."s career in the cricket field as a whole. He still enjoys the game of which he has been the greatest exponent, and though allowances have of necessity to be made for advancing age the public still like to see his familiar figure.

© John Wisden & Co