Home > Features >

Mother’s Day: Six of 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.]

1. 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.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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)

India tour of England 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Bristol

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (00:00 IST)   at Basseterre, St Kitts

Zimbabwe Triangular Series, 2014

Aug 25, 2014 (13:00 IST)   at Harare

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 26, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Hambantota

India tour of England 2014

Aug 27, 2014 (15:00 IST)   at Cardiff

More

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 23, 2014  at Hambantota

Pak won by 4 wkts (D/L method)

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 22, 2014  at St George's, Grenada

West Indies won by 177 runs

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 21, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 7 wkts

Bangladesh Tour of West Indies, 2014

Aug 20, 2014  at St George's, Grenada

West Indies won by 3 wkts

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 19, 2014  at Bulawayo

South Africa won by 61 runs

Photos

England Women vs India Women 2014, 1st ODI at Scarborough

Videos

Morgan talks upcoming ODI series and World Cup

Virat Kohli’s knock against Middlesex could be start of his resurgence ahead of ODIs against England

England Women vs India Women Live Cricket Score, 2nd ODI at Scarborough: India lose Mithali Raj

India tour of England 2014: Visitor’s recent record in overseas ODIs a cause for concern

India tour of England 2014: Is county cricket really the answer for Indian batsmen?

India vs England 2014: Ideal opportunity for Sanju Samson and other youngsters to shine

England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 Pakistan Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka 2014 Pakistan vs Sri Lanka Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs Pakistan Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014 Zimbabwe

Rajasthan could miss out on playing in the upcoming Indian domestic season

Virat Kohli may be the brand ambassador of ISL’s Goa franchise

IS Bindra’s career in cricket administration comes to an end

Charlotte Edwards creates world record of most centuries in Women’s ODIs

Sohaib Maqsood, Fawad Alam take Pakistan to victory against Sri Lanka in thriller

Pakistan vs Sri Lanka 2014: 1st ODI Highlights

Virat Kohli’s knock against Middlesex could be start of his resurgence ahead of ODIs against England

India vs England 2014: Alastair Cook, MS Dhoni, pigeons and pressures — the demands on cricket captains

When Devon Malcolm made South Africa ‘history’

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan 2014: Younis Khan’s ODI comeback brings hope to Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

660 Posts | 6 Fans

Funny Cricket Wonders and Blunders

Sri Lanka vs Pakistan, 1st ODI at Hambantota

Latest Ebola News: UN pledges to support fight against Ebola in West Africa

Virat Kohli may be the brand ambassador of ISL’s Goa franchise

Priyanka Chopra: My world is incomplete

सौन्दर्य टिप #34: दूध से लायें तैलाक्त त्वचा में निखार

Belgian Grand Prix 2014: Nico Rosberg starts on pole position

Asus Zenfone 4 – A450CG with 4.5-inch display to take on the Xiaomi Redmi 1S, pre-bookings go live on Flipkart at midnight priced at Rs 6,999

Flipkart to launch an Intel-powered Android tablet on August 27

Deepika Padukone, Kangana Ranaut and Parineeti Chopra appear on Aamir Khan’s show!

Shastri Sisters: Vijayendra Kumeria to make an entry in the show!

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here