Tom Graveney: 11 facts about the fine England batsman

Tom Graveney was one of the finest batsmen to have played for England. In 79 Tests, he scored 4,882 runs at an average of 44.38. Nishad Pai Vaidya picks 11 facts about him.

 

1.  Military ambitions before cricket

Graveney was a part of the British army before the cricket bug bit him. He had already been on a couple of assignments before he took to the sport seriously.

 

2.  Brotherly influence

Graveney’s brother Ken had an influence over his development as a cricketer. It was due to Ken’s recommendation that he was included in the Gloucestershire side. Ken Graveney played 111 First-Class matches.

 

3.  An international career in two halves

Graveney’s career can be divided into two distinct parts. He was not a part of the England team for three years between 1963 and 1966. However, at the age of 39, he returned in 1966 and went on to have a successful run from there on. He smashed five of his 11 Test tons after making a comeback and scored at an average touching fifty.

 

4.  Enviable First-Class statistics

With 47,793 runs and 122 centuries, Graveney was a First-Class player par excellence. Amongst living cricketers, only Geoffrey Boycott has scored more runs in First-Class cricket thanGraveney.

 

5.  Wicketkeeping experience and the damaged finger

During a Test match against South Africa in 1955, Graveney had to don the wicketkeeping gloves because Godfrey Evans was injured. That experience saw him bearing the brunt of a damaged finger on his left hand. In a chat with the Independent, Graveney said, “When Godfrey Evans broke his finger in two places, Peter May said, ‘You might as well keep wicket’. And the first ball I caught, down the leg side off Frank Tyson, that’s what happened.”

 

6.  Comeback and conclusion on birthday

In 1966, Graveney had returned to the England side on June 16, which was his 39th birthday. That was against the West Indies. Exactly three years later, on June 16, he was told that he was being reported for a disciplinary issue, which put an end to his career.

 

7.  Undeserving end

In 1969, the England-West Indies Test match at Manchester had a rest day on June 15. On that day, Graveney had committed to play a benefit match in Luton. He had informed the England selection committee about it months before the match. However, as the game drew closer, they told him he could not participate. He tried to reason with them, telling them that it was for his financial benefit. Ultimately, amidst all the miscommunication, he went for the benefit game, on the rest day in the middle of the Test. As a result he was banned for three Tests, which ended his international days.

 

8.  Sheffield Shield experience

Graveney played a few matches for Queensland in 1970 and 1971 in the Sheffield Shield. He had an abysmal time Down Under though, as he scored only 138 runs in seven matches at an average of 17.25.

 

9.  Umpiring in a game played by his son

Graveney umpired in only one game in his long association with cricket. He officiated during the Sri Paul Getty’s XI’s game against Heartaches in 1992, a couple of days before his 65th birthday. His son, Tim Graveney, played that game.

 

10.  Nephew a selector

Graveney’s nephew, David, played 457 First-Class matches. After his retirement, he chaired England’s selection committee for over a decade.

 

11.  First professional player to be MCC President

In 2004, Graveney was made the president of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC). He was the first professional player to go on to hold that post.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Mumbai-based cricket journalist and one of the youngest to cover the three major cricketing events — ICC World Cup, World T20 and under-19 World Cup. He tweets as @nishad_45)

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