August 7, 1895 – When WG Grace fielded for his opposition player KS Ranjitsinhji
An incident where WG Grace turned up as a substitute fielder for his opposition team.
In the 1895 County Championship, the Gloucestershire team hosted Sussex at the Ashley Down Ground, Bristol. Gloucestershire, led by WG Grace, was fresh of a 284-run win against Warwickshire. On the other hand, Billy Murdoch’s Sussex team suffered a 10-wicket defeat in the hands of Surrey prior to touring Briston. The first day’s play (August 5) was washed out even before the toss took place while the second day witnessed a brief portion of Sussex’s batting after they elected to bat first.
They were 30/1 at stumps on day two but were bowled out for just 99 runs on the final day morning. Charlie Townsend and Gilbert Jessop, the opening bowlers of Gloucestershire, bowled unchanged by taking five wickets apiece. Later, Jessop and Townsend turned out to be the best batters for the home team scoring 53 and 28 runs respectively. The 4-wicket haul by Charles Fry saw the Gloucestershire bowl out for 159 only but they did earn a 60-run first-innings lead.
Sussex began their 2nd essay with little over two hours of play left in the match. The match seemed to be heading towards a draw before Townsend ran through the Sussex batting line-up. He claimed a 7-wicket haul and ended up with 12 wickets in the match. Jessop picked up a couple while Frederick Roberts took one as Sussex crumbled to 60/10. The top two contributions came from Charles Fry and George Bean who scored 18 and 21 runs respectively.
A substitute fielder from the opposition!
Sussex innings lasted only 27.2 overs where each over lasted only five balls. The total of 60 helped Sussex overcome the deficit but left Gloucestershire to score a solitary run and complete a win. However, less than 15 minutes of play was left when Sussex got bowled out in their 2nd innings. There was an uncertainty in the dressing room of Sussex as most of the top-order batsmen packed the bags expecting the match to end in a draw.
Kumar Sri Ranjitsinhji even left the venue as he was the 2nd batsman to be dismissed in Sussex’s innings. At this stage, WG Grace voluntarily came forward to fill up for Ranjitsinhji to get Gloucestershire’s 1-run chase underway in time. Jessop opened the batting with JJ Ferris while Frederick Tate took the new ball for Sussex. Gilbert Jessop, who took the strike, took a single on the third ball of the innings to finish off the match.