W. G. Grace

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Dr William Gilbert ("W. G.") Grace, MRCS, LRCP (born 18 July 1848 at Downend, near Bristol; died 23 October 1915 at Mottingham, Kent) was an English amateur cricketer who has been widely acknowledged as the greatest player of all time, especially in terms of his importance to the development of the sport. Universally known as "W. G.", his initials being a sobriquet, he played first-class cricket for a record-equalling 44 seasons, from 1865 to 1908, during which he captained England, Gloucestershire County Cricket Club, the Gentlemen, MCC, the United South of England Eleven and several other teams. He came from a cricketing family and his brothers E.M. and G.F., often known as Fred, also played Test cricket for England.

Right-handed as both batsman and bowler, Grace dominated the sport during his career and left, through his technical innovations and enormous influence, a lasting legacy. An outstanding all-rounder, he excelled at all the essential skills of batting, bowling and fielding, but it is for his batting that he is most renowned as he is held to have invented modern batsmanship. An opening batsman, he was particularly noted for his mastery of all strokes and his level of expertise was said by contemporary reviewers to be unique. He generally captained the teams he played for at all levels because of his skill and tactical acumen.

Grace was a medical practitioner who qualified in 1879. Because of his profession, he was nominally an amateur cricketer but he is said to have made more money from his cricketing activities than any professional. He was an extremely competitive player and, although he was one of the most famous men in England, he was also one of the most controversial on account of his gamesmanship and his financial acumen.

He took part in other sports: he was a champion 440 yard hurdler, and also played football for the Wanderers, golf, and lawn bowls.


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