W.G Grace-cricketing reminiscences | Daily News


W.G Grace-cricketing reminiscences

Drawn from W.G’S memories of his astonishing career, I rewind way back to pick a few outstanding cricketers mentioned by the great man himself.


Mr George J. Bonnor (born February 25, 1855) was one of the grandest specimen of manhood that ever stepped upon a cricket ground. As a lady spectator once said of him in an audible voice, he was a “a beauty. “Six feet six he stood erect, broad shouldered, straight limbed and splendidly proportioned-A giant of strength and an Apollo of grace. His own strength he scarcely knew but when he got a ball well in the center of his bat people made guesses as to the horse power he put behind it. When he threw in from the outfield the ball whistled as it cloved the air. On the day he landed at Plymouth, in 1882 Bonnor established a record by throwing a cricket ball 119 yards, thereby won a bet of 100 pounds for someone who doubted his ability to throw it 115 yards. It is said that on another occasion he threw a ball 130 yards.(Longest standing record is 140 yards 2 feet-Wisdom). Bonnor will be remembered for his batting. Once at Cambridge he made 66 in half an hour, again at Zingari, he made 20 runs off one over. He was a born “slogger.” It was rubbish; he was made to smite for all his worth and could no more play slow cricket than R.G Barlow could slog.(If Bonnor had the good fortune to apply Dynamics into his slogging the Windies batting blasters would have blushed.)


Mr Henry Frederick Boyle (Born December 10, 1847) was a member of the first Australian Team which came to England in 1878, and with Spofforth shared the bowling in the memorable match against the MCC, when Australia showed Englishmen the stuff of which they were made. On that occasion( when the MCC Eleven was dismissed for 19). Boyle was a medium pace, right hand bowler, braking both ways, he kept up a superb length and in the field was exceptionally brilliant especially at short mid on, then a new position. Though he ran great risks in standing so close to the wicket and in the direction of on drives, he always said that he could use his hands to protect his body. He visited England four times -1878,1880,1882 and 1884 and on each occasion met with marked success as a bowler.


John Briggs (born in Sutton- in –Ashford, Notts, October 3, 1862) has for many years been one of the best all round players. This Lancashire professional excelled in batting bowling and fielding. He bowled left arm medium or slow and could cut both ways at will and foxing the best of batsman on a sticky wicket. He batted right hand and in spite of his diminutive stature (5 ft. 5 in) and played with wonderful freedom all round the wicket.The way he could take a high long hop at a level with his head and bang it to the boundary greatly surprised spectators who saw him for the first time. In the field he was agile as a cat and fielding his own bowling he did the work of mid-off and mid- on.. When not bowling he stood at cover point and in that position had few equals and as far as W.G. knew had no superior.Moreover , he was the soul of energy and his endurance seemed inexhaustible.

He was game and alert from beginning and to end of a match and seemed all the ghappier when he was kept incessantly at work. Good humored and full of vitality he was one of the “characters” of the cricket field. Briggs visited Australia in 1884, and 1886,1887,1891,1894and 1807 –indeed since 1884 he has been one of the first men to be selected to every team going out to the colony. Briggs was one of the best head bowlers they ever had. He varied nearly every ball in an over and if he had any fault it was that he was trying to do too much with the ball.


Mr Charles B. Fry( born April 25,1872 ) was, the best all round athlete in England. As a Long jumper he astounded the world by his extraordinary leap in the university sports in 1892; as a sprint runner he carried off cups and trophies in great numbers; as an association footballer he has won his international caps as well as a University “Blue”; while as a cricketer he made his reputation as a school boy in Repton. Improved it at Oxford and established himself as one of the best amateur batsman playing first class cricket.He was captain of the Oxford Eleven which in 1893 won a brilliant victory by eight wickets over Cambridge, and contributed to that result by scoring 100 not out.His services to Sussex was invaluable. His batting was free and stylish and his hitting hard and clean he fielded brilliantly and up to last year bowled with considerable success, but his delivery was condemned by the umpires last season. Fry was one of the most genial and popular amateurs in the Cricket field conclude the late great W.G.Grace

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