Home > Features > Moments in history >

Gloucestershire vs Lancashire match called off following the demise of WG Grace’s mother, Martha

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 Lancashire 142 (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.)

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 24, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Glenelg, Adelaide

Pakistan vs New Zealand in UAE, 2014

Nov 26, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Sharjah

India tour of Australia 2014, Practice matches

Nov 28, 2014 (05:29 IST)   at Adelaide

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 29, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Deodhar Trophy, 2014-15

Nov 29, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at TBC

More

Afghanistan tour of UAE, 2014

Nov 28, 2014  at Dubai

United Arab Emirates won by 5 wkts

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 28, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 21 runs

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 124 runs

England tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 26, 2014  at Colombo

Sri Lanka won by 25 runs

Hong Kong tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Nov 24, 2014  at Colombo

Hong Kong won by 2 wkts

Photos

Phil Hughes suffers head injury: In photos

Videos

Phil Hughes passes away: Video tribute

Sean Abbott will find the road ahead a living nightmare

Phillip Hughes’ death: What happens to India vs Australia Test series?

Phillip Hughes 63 not out, forever

Phil Hughes: Remembering his most memorable knocks

Phillip Hughes passes away: Crying for Phillip Hughes

Australia England India New Zealand New Zealand tour of UAE 2014 New Zealand vs Pakistan New Zealand vs Pakistan 2014 Pakistan Pakistan vs New Zealand Pakistan vs New Zealand 2014 Phil Hughes Phil Hughes Death Phil Hughes head injury Phillip Hughes Sri Lanka

India tour of Australia 2014-15: 1st Test set to be rescheduled as David Warner, Shane Watson and Brad Haddin not ready

UAE beat Afghanistan by 5-wickets in first ODI at Dubai

Bangladesh edge out Zimbabwe by 21 runs in 4th ODI at Dhaka

Phillip Hughes was destined for greatness: Steve Waugh

Afghanistan set 249-run target against UAE in 1st ODI at Dubai

Brendon McCullum smashes fastest Test century for New Zealand

Pakistan vs New Zealand, 3rd Test at Sharjah, Day Two: Statistical Highlights

Phillip Hughes’ death: Cricket resumes, but with a heavy heart

Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014, 4th ODI at Dhaka: Highlights

Mushfiqur Rahim and Mohammad Mahmudullah record second-highest fifth wicket partnership for Bangladesh in ODIs

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

682 Posts | 6 Fans

Video: Phil Hughes suffers head injury, collapses on field during New South Wales vs South Australia tie

India is becoming our largest overseas market, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun says

Pukaar’s Rannvijay Singh will face new challenges with ‘Zen Life’

Yami Gautam Birthday: The Vicky Donor girl turns 26 (In Pics)

6 medical miracles that will blow your mind

OPEC daily basket price closes over three US dollars lower

Badlapur new poster: Varun Dhawan stuns us with his deadly rugged avatar – view pic!

More broadband connections to boost GDP growth in Asia Pacific: GSMA

6 must-have aromatherapy oils for your medicine cabinet

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here