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Amazing Grace The Man Who Was WG By Richard Tomlinson

Release date: 17th September, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown

List Price: £20.00
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Published to coincide with the centenary of WG Grace’s death, Richard Tomlinson’s mighty tome (it’s 430-odd pages in length) joins an almost endless list of biographies that have been written about cricket’s greatest-ever player. However, while this latest version provides readers with a wealth of detail regarding Grace’s colourful life and is extremely well-written, there’s little in terms of fresh content.

Statistics provide the barest details of Grace’s remarkable career, yet even a century after he died, aged 67, they warrant another airing.

WG was the first cricketer to score 100 first-class centuries; he accumulated a quite staggering 50,000 first class runs and took more than 3,000 wickets. In one eight-day period during the summer of 1876, he scored two triple centuries en route to assembling a total of 800 runs.

Financial necessity led Grace to develop his astonishing cricketing prowess. His family had no money (his uncle and father-in-law were both bankrupts) and despite playing during the amateur era, he honed his skills in order to stave off a similar fate despite practicing as a medical doctor.

Tomlinson notes that such was Grace’s fame, he was able to secure fees of £1,500 and £3,000 respectively to tour Australia in 1873-74 and 1891-92. Expenses were added to these fees, while he also endorsed the strange-sounding Goodfellow’s Coca Water and made more money from ghosted newspaper columns. He was a sporting superstar before the word had been invented, a man who played like a professional (and expected to be rewarded as one) when cricket was primarily an amateur pursuit.

The MCC allowed him to exploit his nationwide fame, for in return it allowed the governing body to develop the game after a lengthy period in the doldrums; in every respect, the arrangement was mutually beneficial.

Tomlinson is very good describing Grace’s demise; although he played into his fifties, his enormous appetite, coupled with an equally colossal capacity for drinking, resulted in him contracting consumption which affected him during the twilight of a truly outstanding career.

There have been plenty of books written about the amazing Grace and thankfully, this stands favourable comparison with any of them.


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