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    William Gilbert Grace: The Bad Guy Who Left a Mark on the History of English Cricket
William Gilbert Grace: The Bad Guy Who Left a Mark on the History of English Cricket
William Gilbert Grace. Source: Cricket.com

William Gilbert Grace: The Bad Guy Who Left a Mark on the History of English Cricket

WG Grace is a well-known figure in the world of cricket. He is not just associated with cricket; he has been closely associated with the sport since the 1800s. His image can be found on busts, statues, paintings, and avatars all over the world. Gates bearing his name honour him. Since his death, movies have been made about him, and he continues to inspire writers of both nonfiction and fiction.

A Gentleman's Elegance, Manners, and Flawed Character

He came into a society that was segregated along social lines. He supported the segregationist movement. This shows that he was not just an ordinary kid playing in the streets, but someone privileged to have his coach. Oh, how many boys there are who have a deep passion for cricket and dream of being born into a world fully immersed in the sport, as Grace eloquently described.

Grace was fortunate to live in a fantastic cricket era. There were various styles of bowling, including underarm, roundarm and overarm. Cricket had never experienced such a period. To overcome it, it was necessary to create a revolutionary type of bat. Grace achieved something unfamiliar to her fellow batters. It advanced when the ball was pitched with full force, or retreated when the ball was pitched with less force.

Keep in mind that he did this because of cricket. Grace was much more dominant than Don Bradman had him portrayed when he was performing at his best. He scored ten first-class hundreds in 1871. Other English cricket tournaments, such as county, university, Gentlemen v Players, and any other ridiculous games elevated to first-class rank that summer, only produced seven more. A total of fifty-two such games were played.

WG Grace. Source: Cricket.com
WG Grace. Source: Cricket.com

His inherent elegance - and he had a refined demeanour, unlike the nobles, aristocrats and peers who also participated in cricket - helped him immensely. And also cricket.

Grace's gentlemanly demeanour provided him with more recognition than he could have had for his exceptional on-field skills alone. There is documentary evidence of his participation in games as early as the age of 11. He would have received something other than special training, been promoted to first-class cricket, or become highly sought after.

Grace Didn't See the Competition

Kevin Pietersen has been entirely overshadowed by Grace, which has made him appear more like a substandard player than the brilliant Alastair  Cook. In spite of this, there is no question that he is a hero—an indication that has a significant deal of importance. He is an esteemed gentleman who comes from what is considered to be the golden age of cricket.

William Gilbert Grace. Source: The Guardian
William Gilbert Grace. Source: The Guardian

Due to the fact that Grace was such a highly sought-after celebrity, the value of tickets dramatically increased whenever his name was attached to them. Yankee Stadium was referred to as "the house that Ruth built" by its moniker. An excessive number of stadiums across England and even further afield were overcrowded by Grace long before baseball became the most popular activity in the United States. At a time when sports were not yet a global phenomenon, he was already a successful athlete on a worldwide scale. On the other hand, before, athletes were famous. Before the present Olympic Games were established, he was able to demonstrate his abilities in a variety of countries throughout the world.

It's understandable why this player, or rather this revered superstar,  continues to be held in such high esteem today. He is often considered the deity of the sport. He's a divine being from myth - indeed a bit naughty, restored bails and all that, but justifiable given his contribution to the sport.

The sacred image is what is disturbing about him. One can appreciate his contribution to baseball and the way he promoted cricket with his distinctive beard, which looked like a touching advertisement. However, he wasn't just a charming older gentleman with a mischievous side; he was a relentless man who despised defeat and sought financial gain.

Using a Monty Python reference, which is appropriate since they portrayed Grace as God in their movies, "He's not a messiah, he's a mischievous young guy."

William Gilbert Grace. Source: Britannica
William Gilbert Grace. Source: Britannica

It Is Not the Most Masculine of Actions and a Terrible Character

When Sammy Jones left the pitch to assist another player during a test match, Grace penalised him by suspending him from the contest. If their captain were to do the same thing now, what kind of reaction would the respectable men who were passing through Grace's gate during the early morning Test at Lord's have? Or is the captain of the squad competing against you? The fact that they would be so surprised would eliminate the need for them to celebrate with champagne.

On top of that, what about the fact that he abducted Billy Midwinter, a member of the Australian team, from a sporting event? This raises serious ethical concerns. Or the fact that he claimed to be an amateur yet ended up getting paid more than any of the professionals he played with, despite the fact that he was playing with them. This blatant disregard for the rules of the game is deeply troubling. Alternatively,  the fact that he did not take into consideration Test Trips since the price was not suitable. What about the fact that he did not take any examinations at all? According to the Sydney Mail, he was accused of betting on the matches that he participated in, which is possibly the most shocking of all the charges that have been made against him.

Grace has completely overshadowed Kevin Pietersen, making him seem inferior to Alastair Cook. Nevertheless, he is seen as a hero, a symbol of great importance, and a distinguished gentleman from an era when the game of cricket required specific criteria, including a particular ancestry and gender.

Grace gave the impression of a self-centred and detached man who thought he was exempt from having to follow the rules. However, he could hit. And indeed, that should be and is more important than anything else.

What's really annoying about Grey's story is the desire to present him as a naughty celebrity rather than a self-employed cricketer who resorted to any means to improve his financial standing and reputation, sometimes even to win. That's fine. But it doesn't make him a gentleman, and given that he is a revered cricketing phenomenon, it puts him in direct conflict with those who deeply cherish the essence of cricket.

Most people need to become more familiar with Grace. They are familiar with the image, not the personality, and that personality is far from the most excellent thing about the man.

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