August 3, 1898 – When WG Grace declared the innings while batting on 93

WG Grace was leading the Gloucestershire team against the Sussex.

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Published - Aug 03, 2020, 10:26 IST | Updated - Aug 03, 2020, 10:26 IST


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William Gilbert Grace, well known as WG Grace, was famous for his antics as a batsman and also as a captain. During his 43-year span as a professional cricketer, Grace was part of a variety of stories in this sport and was probably the first superstar with the bat in first-class cricket as well. An incident regarding his uncertainty on the field took place on August 4th in 1898 when Sussex toured Bristol to play against the home team Gloucestershire during the County Championship match.

WG Grace, the home team skipper, elected to bat first in the match played at the Ashley Down. Grace, opening the innings, got dismissed for 14 runs after a 38-run opening stand. From 38/0, the hosts stumbled to 126/8 which became 163/9 pretty soon. Sussex’s opening bowlers Walter Humphreys and Cyril Bland caused the major damage as the duo snared four wickets apiece. However, the home team’s total got a push in the form of an 81-run partnership for the 10th wicket.

The No.11 batsman Jack Brown scored an unbeaten 47 while Reginald Rice, the No.6 batter, amassed 61 runs before getting run out. Sussex made a sizzling start as they ended the opening day on 101/0. Openers Charles Fry and Billy Murdoch scored 93 and 60 runs respectively while No.4 batter Francis Marlow made 77 to help Sussex end up with 364 runs. Fifties by Cyril Sewell (67) and Reginald Rice (63) helped Gloucestershire get into lead pretty early despite conceding a 120-run first-innings.

Grace saves his team from a defeat!

WG Grace demoted himself to No.6 in the 2nd essay only to witness his team’s collapse. Gloucestershire went down from 189/3 to 192/6 which soon turned to be 248/8. Sussex fancied their chances over a win at this stage as the home team’s lead was only 128 runs. But Grace rescued his team along with the No.10 batter Stanley Brown (26*). The duo looked solid at the crease as hosts reached 341/8 with Grace batting on 93.

An unexpected declaration!

Despite being only seven runs away from a century, William Grace walked off the field declaring the innings to everyone’s surprise. The logic behind this move remained unknown to everyone on the field as Sussex got a target of 222 which was to be chased down in a short span. The match eventually ended in a draw with only 10 overs of Sussex’s innings being possible. This declaration left Grace unbeaten on 93 and his partnership with Stanley was also worth 93*.

A number that was never achieved!

It was later understood that 93 was the only score between 0 and 100 that William Grace never achieved by start of this match. By ending up on 93*, WG Grace became the first player in the history of FC cricket to achieve every score between 0 and 100. Grace registered an FC score of 93 yet again in 1902 for the London County against Cambridge University. This match would have made Grace think if he threw away a pretty good chance of scoring a hundred against Sussex.