Home > Features >

Mother’s Day: Remembering cricket’s most celebrated mothers

Percy Chapman (right) with his mother © Getty Images (Representational Photo)
Percy Chapman (right) with his mother © Getty Images

The second Sunday of May is traditionally observed as Mother’s Day throughout the world. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the most famous mothers in the history of the sport.

Mothers are, all said and done, a rather serious issue, and cricket has had its own share of them. They have stayed up nights nursing their children back into fitness, they have made them gruel day in and day out, they have made them follow the strictest regimes; but all of them have managed to convert them into quality cricketers.

[Note: The article does not necessarily include mothers with several children playing international cricket, which means that Ameer Bee, Mrs Chappell, Mrs Waugh, Mrs Hadlee, Mrs Joyce, and Mrs Ngoche all miss out. Martha Grace, of course, barges through on her own merit.]

Mother Cricket

The mother of The Father of Cricket, Martha Grace was, to quote Arunabha Sengupta, “a tall, strong, imperious woman who arguably knew more about cricket than the most addicted gentleman following the game.” She maintained scrapbooks of the records of her sons — WG, EM, and Fred — and was never short on criticism when one of them made a lapse of any sort.

If WG Grace is responsible for the way cricket is played in 2014, Mrs Grace was responsible for the way WG’s career was shaped. Her reputation stretched beyond her family, and she was universally accepted as the great matriarch of English cricket in the 1800s.

It was, thus, not a coincidence when a match between Gloucestershire and Leicestershire was abandoned when Mrs Grace passed away midway during the match. It is the only known occasion where a First-Class match had been abandoned for the same reason.

A third centurion in the family

A pair of brothers to have scored Test hundreds is not that difficult to find, but when their mother joins the list it really becomes an awesome combination. Irene Benaud turned Richie (and later, John) Benaud Test cricketers at a gap of 20 years (which meant she had to go through the entire ordeal twice).

As per Richie Benaud’s admission, it was she who made him love vegetables: “You can’t go out and play cricket until you have eaten all your vegetables.” Though Mrs Benaud is no more, she was 104 when she had passed away.

She nose it all

Meenal, sister of Madhav Mantri, played an instrumental role in her son’s growing up. Before honing his forward-defensive strokes and immaculate straight-drives in the gullies of Bombay, a very young Sunil Gavaskar used to practice batting against his mother’s — one can safely assume — not-too-dangerous bowling.

One full-blooded straight-drive, somewhat unfortunately, got more elevation than Sunil would have wanted to, and smashed his mother’s nose, causing her to bleed. Gavaskar later wrote in Sunny Days: “My most vivid recollection of my childhood cricket-playing days is the time I almost broke my mother’s nose.”

The incident did not deter Meenal from giving her son batting practice. She can easily claim the credits for a chunk of those 10,122 runs.

A fair mother

Not much to talk about here: it was just that Mrs Fairbrother was, to nick a word from the contemporary generation, a blind fan of the handsome and elegant Neil Harvey; it was not a coincidence that she ended her son Neil Harvey Fairbrother. Neil Fairbrother went on to become one of the earliest finishers of the shorter format, but more coincidentally, he was a left-hander as well.

For whom the bell tolled

It is well-documented that Curtly Ambrose took seven for one from 32 balls in that Test at WACA. A lesser known side of the story is the fact that a bell at Swetes Village just outside the Ambrose’s got rung seven times during the phase. It did not help the neighbours that it wasn’t exactly broad daylight in Antigua. Hillie Ambrose rang the bell every time her son got a wicket.

Mrs Ambrose and the bell are a part of Caribbean cricket folklore, but it took some time for her son to get to know of her antics. He only got to know of the ritual from newspapers; when he came back to Swetes, Mrs Ambrose proudly showed her the bell.

The extras

Jane Speight was, of course, Geoff Boycott’s mother — and if one takes the Yorkshireman’s words literally, she was better than most international cricketers (especially batsmen) of the 1990s and 2000s. What the greats of the era found difficult to encounter with the willow was easily dispatched using an object out of her toiletries bag: “Ma’ moom coulda’ hit that with a toothbroosh.”

And finally, no article on mothers in cricket can be complete without Virender Sehwag’s mother from the Reliance commercials:

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014 (12:30 IST)   at Bulawayo

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

India tour of England 2014

Jul 17, 2014  at London

India won by 95 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 16, 2014  at Galle

South Africa won by 153 runs

Photos

Gallery: India vs England 2nd Test at Lord's

Videos

Alastair Cook jokes about his bowling

India’s wins in England — from 1971 to 2014

Ravindra Jadeja knighted by her majesty Queen Elizabeth II

India’s win over England in 2nd Test at Lord’s: Twitter reactions

Ishant Sharma pummels England into submission as India clinch Lord’s Test by 95 runs

Ishant Sharma registers name at Lord’s honours board, takes 6 wickets in 2nd Test against England

Bhuvneshwar Kumar England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Ishant Sharma South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

Jos Buttler calls his Test call-up for England against India a “dream come true”

Pakistan court helps family of girl cricketer who committed suicide

Pakistan Cricket Board aims to introduce democratic process of governance

Sachin Tendulkar not offended by Maria Sharapova’s comment

Afghanistan beat Zimbabwe in 3rd ODI at Bulawayo by 2 wickets

Ishant Sharma: The enigma who takes key wickets

Statistical highlights of India vs England 2014, 2nd Test at Lord’s

Ishant Sharma’s email inbox after the Lord’s Test match against England

Ishant Sharma’s house targetted by fans after expecting another failure

India’s wins in England — from 1971 to 2014

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

What did Anil Kapoor do for daughters Sonam Kapoor and Rhea Kapoor’s Khoobsurat?

Why did Kareena Kapoor Khan reject six films in last five months?

Kejriwal meets families of Indians stranded in Iraq

Gaza toll 609 as US blames Hamas for crisis!

Telecom stocks ring in gain; Nifty zooms 84 points

Nvidia Shield Tablet powered by a Tegra K1 processor announced

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here