Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here

Home > Features > Moments in history >

Gloucestershire-Lancashire match abandoned following the demise of WG Grace’s mother

Martha Grace’s demise abandons match

WG Grace’s (above) mother Martha was the only woman to find a mention in Wisden (1915) until the year 2009 © Getty Images

Martha Grace, mother of the famous Grace brothers in cricket, passed away on July 25, 1884. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the demise that had led to the abandonment of a Championship match between Gloucestershire and Lancashire — the only time a First-Class match has been abandoned for such a reason.

From the onset, it seemed to be just another Championship match: WG Grace won the toss and decided to bat at Old Trafford, and Dick Barlow and Alexander Watson began proceedings against EM Grace and Walter Gilbert (a cousin of the Graces who later fled to Canada after being caught for theft in a dressing-room).
 
There were the usual early inroads before WG Grace walked out to bat at 34 for four; after the fifth wicket fell at 38 he somewhat rebuilt the innings, adding 52 with the wicketkeeper Joseph Brain in which the latter contributed 12. Barlow and Watson kept away picking up wickets; Grace’s 53 allowed the tourists to reach 119 as Barlow picked up five for 49 and Watson four for 39.
 
WG Grace opened bowling and struck early, removing Barlow for a duck. The middle-order fought back before Herbert Page’s off-breaks triggered a collapse and Lancashire slid from 79 for two to 79 for five (including the Lancashire captain Albert ‘Monkey’ Hornby). They finished Day One at 104 for six, still 15 runs behind, with Reginald Wood on 12 and Daff Whittaker on one.
 
The left-arm bowling of William Woof finished the Lancashire innings for 142. Woof eventually picked up four for 48 and Page’s spell earned him respectable figures of three for 25.
 
EM Grace scored a few brisk runs in return but was caught by Whittaker off Barlow. WG Grace to join Gilbert walked out and Gloucestershire managed to go past Lancashire with one wicket down.
 
 
The telegram
 
It was then that a telegram arrived at Old Trafford carrying the news of the passing away of Martha Grace. Hornby decided to stop the match immediately. He agreed to abandon it, allowing the Grace brothers to leave for bereavement — the only time a First-Class match has been abandoned for such a reason.
 
It was a magnanimous gesture on behalf of the Lancashire captain, who probably knew the significance of the late woman in the formation of modern cricket in England. As Arunabha Sengupta wrote, “The matriarchal role in the development of the Grace supremacy cannot be exaggerated.”
 
Martha Grace née Pocock was, to quote Sengupta, “a tall, strong, imperious woman who arguably knew more about cricket than the most addicted gentleman following the game”.Martha came from a family of cricketers (her brother Alfred was a keen cricketer and the father of the New South Wales and Canterbury off-spinner William Pocock; Alfred Pocock was also an excellent coach and is usually credited with the formation of WG’s early years).
 
Martha was the daughter of the famous inventor George Pocock. The Frenchay Club website mentions in the article Cricket and the Graces at Frenchay: “George Pocock’s best remembered inventions involved huge kites, some designed to pull carriages, and one from which the brave Martha, in an armchair, was flown up over the Avon Gorge.”
 
Afrer his wedding with Henry Mills Grace she gave birth to nine children. Three of them — WG, most famously, EM, and Fred — played Tests for England; Henry played First-Class cricket for Gloucestershire; and Alfred played grade, club, and other matches. She followed their careers keenly: as Eric Midwinter wrote, “until her [Martha Grace’s] death she maintained logs and scrapbooks of all her sons’ doings.”
 
Martha found a reference in WG’s Wisden obituary in 1915; she is fittingly the first woman to be mentioned in a Wisden.
 
Brief scores:
 
Gloucestershire 119 (WG Grace 53; Dick Barlow 5 for 49, Alexander Watson 4 for 39) and 25 for 1 drew with Lancashire142 (Monkey Hornby 46; William Woof 4 for 48, Herbert Page 3 for 25).
 
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/ovshake and on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42.)

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Dubai

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 22, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Sharjah

More

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Rajasthan Royals won by 4 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 18, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kings XI Punjab won by 6 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 17, 2014  at Sharjah

Royal Challengers Bangalore won by 8 wkts

Indian T20 League 2014

Apr 16, 2014  at Abu Dhabi

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 41 runs

Womens World T20, 2014

Apr 6, 2014  at Dhaka

Australia Women won by 6 wkts

Photos

Delhi vs Bangalore match 2, IPL 2014 at Sharjah

Videos

Video Highlights: Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders wickets

IPL Statistics and Records: IPL’s First

IPL 2014: Umpire Camera View creates latest buzz in tournament

IPL 7: Vintage Jacques Kallis showed his class for Kolkata Knight Riders against Mumbai Indians

IPL 2014: Capacity crowd at UAE provides glimpse of the T20 league’s huge following

Australia BCCI Chennai Super Kings Delhi Daredevils India IPL IPL 7 IPL 2014 Kings XI Punjab Kolkata Knight Riders Lasith Malinga MS Dhoni Mumbai Indians Royal Challengers Bangalore Virat Kohli

Delhi Daredevils vs Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014, Match 6 Preview: Delhi search for first win

Rajasthan Royals open their IPL 2014 campaign with a nervy 4-wicket over Sunrisers Hyderabad

IPL 2014: JP Duminy takes tips from AB de Villier’s after Delhi Daredevils’s loss to Royal Challengers Bangalore

Varun Aaron says he won’t cut down on pace

IPL 2014: Royal Challengers Bangalore looking to carry forward momentum against Mumbai Indians

IPL 2014: Rajasthan Royals’ team composition vital for success

Kings XI Punjab’s local talent gives them an added dimension in IPL 2014

Former Australia PM Robert Menzies used cricket to win a case as a lawyer

Naoomal Jaoomal: The man who opened batting in India’s first ever Test

Sony launches ‘IPL Smart Earphone’ to filter crap commentary; calls endeavour CSR

Fan of the Day

Sudatta Mukherjee

Sudatta Mukherjee

1 Posts | 0 Fans

Mumbai Indians vs Kolkata Knight Riders IPL 2014 Video Highlights

Britney Spears to marry beau David Lucadao in Hawaii

Ukrainian government ready for constitutional reforms: PM

Know what it takes to save your skin during flights

Samsung Galaxy K Zoom’s camera sample surfaces online

Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) vs Rajasthan Royals (RR), Score Update: Rajasthan win by 4 wickets

CUPS, a mobile application for unlimited coffee, launched

RR vs SRH, IPL 2014: Rajasthan Royals win by 4 wickets against Sunrisers Hyderabad

11 possible causes of coughing up blood

Also on cricketcountry.com