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Thread: A Superstitious W.G.

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    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    A Superstitious W.G.

    What follows, excerpted from Charles Igglesden's 1932 tome Those Superstitions, came as a shock to me. I had always thought of Grace as a genial, happy-go-lucky old codger, certainly not the sort to fret irrationally about silly personal observances. Apparently, though, and to my hysterical incredulity, he did: "That greatest of cricketers, W. G. Grace, was obsessed with the superstition that if his name in the batting list was opposite an even number he would make no runs. That, however, is not the reason. He always went in first, and hence his name was opposite No. 1. It was his obvious and enviable position."

    I was less surprised to learn that the highly-strung Hornby* was highly superstitious, too. Igglesden writes, "[T]he dashing Lancashire captain was beginning the innings of his county when the spectators saw him pause as he walked to the wicket, and then turn back to the pavilion. He had glanced at his pads and found that they were reversed -- on the wrong leg. 'I'm going in last instead of first,' he explained. 'If I went in now I should have the bad luck to run myself or somebody else out.' He went in last, but bad luck dogged him, and he ran out his partner in trying to steal one of those short runs for which he was famous."

    * Who shared Andrew Symonds's Indian nickname.
    Last edited by neville cardus; 08-01-2008 at 07:50 PM.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member archie mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neville cardus View Post
    What follows, excerpted from Charles Igglesden's 1932 tome Those Superstitions, came as a shock to me. I had always thought of Grace as a genial, happy-go-lucky old codger, certainly not the sort to fret irrationally about silly personal observances. Apparently, though, and to my hysterical incredulity, he did: "That greatest of cricketers, W. G. Grace, was obsessed with the superstition that if his name in the batting list was opposite an even number he would make no runs. That, however, is not the reason. He always went in first, and hence his name was opposite No. 1. It was his obvious and enviable position."

    I was less surprised to learn that the highly-strung Hornby* was highly superstitious, too. Igglesden writes, "[T]he dashing Lancashire captain was beginning the innings of his county when the spectators saw him pause as he walked to the wicket, and then turn back to the pavilion. He had glanced at his pads and found that they were reversed -- on the wrong leg. 'I'm going in last instead of first,' he explained. 'If I went in now I should have the bad luck to run myself or somebody else out.' He went in last, but bad luck dogged him, and he ran out his partner in trying to steal one of those short runs for which he was famous."

    * Who shared Andrew Symonds's Indian nickname.
    Interesting, I have never heard of that WG story, I wonder if it is true???
    You know it makes sense.

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    International Vice-Captain Days of Grace's Avatar
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    Part myth, part truth i.m.o., like so much of the great man.
    Greatest Ever Test XI: JB Hobbs, L Hutton, DG Bradman (c), IVA Richards, BC Lara, GS Sobers, AC Gilchrist (wk), Imran Khan, RJ Hadlee, MD Marshall, SK Warne 12th man: M Muralitharan


    Favorite XI: WG Grace, VT Trumper, IVA Richards, DCS Compton, FMM Worrell (c), AC Gilchrist (wk), CL Cairns, SK Warne, FS Trueman, SE Bond, T Richardson 12th man: H Larwood

    "Neither of them will have an international cricket acareer past 2016."
    Brocky on Martin Guptill and Ish Sodhi. 20/11/2014.

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    International Captain
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    In 1974 Radio 4 in the UK did a short program where they talked to people who either knew WG personally or had seen him play - albeit when he was well past his prime.
    Unfortunately I can't remember a damn thing they said. There's little or no chance of the participants still being alive today, but the program might be gathering dust somewhere in the archives.


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    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    Only one man alive today ever saw W.G. play, and he's the oldest man in Britain.

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    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    The author goes on to discuss bowlers' losing their run-ups: "George Ulyett [...] always asked his captain to take him off if this happened. He said his chance of taking a wicket was gone." Which I find very surprising in a player as purportedly laid back and devil-may-care as Happy Jack.

    "But there was logic," says Igglesden, "behind this old cricketer's superstition, which also prevailed in the mind of Tom Richardson, Surrey's bowler [...] when he missed his stride and he at once asked to be changed [....]

    "A. N. Hornby, affectionately known as 'Monkey' Hornby, the dashing Lancashire captain, was beginning the innings of his county when the spectators saw him pause as he walked to the wicket, and then turn back to the pavilion. He had glanced at his pads and found that they were reversed -- on the wrong leg. 'I'm going in last instead of first,' he explained. 'If I went in now I should have the bad luck to run myself or somebody else out.' He went in last, but bad luck dogged him, and he ran out his partner in trying to steal one of those short runs for which he was famous. [...]

    "Present-day cricketers are probably more free from superstition. Percy Chapman, the England captain, tells me that he believes in none of them, but port certainly must go the right way round."
    Last edited by neville cardus; 09-01-2008 at 10:28 AM.

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    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by archie mac View Post
    Interesting, I have never heard of that WG story, I wonder if it is true???
    I think that it is true. The book is very well-researched, and its author seems to know a fair amount about cricket. I shall, however, just to be sure, attempt to find out how W.G. did batting in even positions.

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    RTDAS pasag's Avatar
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    Love your work, neville.
    Rest In Peace Craigos
    2003-2012

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    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    Thanks, china. I only do it, though, because I know that there are posters here who will appreciate it and perhaps even shed a little of their own extensive knowledge on it. I've learnt oodles from this place simply by posting the odd bit or piece that catches my eye.

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    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    W.G. was a racist, too

    The Grand Old Man of English Cricket was rooming with Albert Hornby, who got up early one morning. Grace asked him where he was going.

    "To have my cold bath, of course," Hornby replied.

    "Ooooh!" Grace exclaimed. "Monkey, you do make me shudder!"

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    Cricket Web Staff Member archie mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neville cardus View Post
    The Grand Old Man of English Cricket was rooming with Albert Hornby, who got up early one morning. Grace asked him where he was going.

    "To have my cold bath, of course," Hornby replied.

    "Ooooh!" Grace exclaimed. "Monkey, you do make me shudder!"
    Wickets in The West?

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    International Vice-Captain Days of Grace's Avatar
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    I highly recommend Simon Rae's book, 'W.G. Grace'. The best book on the Good Doctor i.m.o. and gives you a look not just on The Old Man, but cricket in general in the late 19th century. Gives a superb account of the famous Oval test of 1880.

    Have you read it, there, Neville?

  13. #13
    International 12th Man neville cardus's Avatar
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    Yes, I've read it. Highly recommended. I got the Hornby-Grace anecdote from it.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by neville cardus View Post
    Only one man alive today ever saw W.G. play, and he's the oldest man in Britain.
    Henry Allingham, who popped into The Oval in 2006 for the first time since he saw WG's match. Whether it was 1906 or 1903 no-one can be quite sure.
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    Cricket Web Staff Member archie mac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Days of Grace View Post
    I highly recommend Simon Rae's book, 'W.G. Grace'. The best book on the Good Doctor i.m.o. and gives you a look not just on The Old Man, but cricket in general in the late 19th century. Gives a superb account of the famous Oval test of 1880.

    Have you read it, there, Neville?
    He reviewed it for the site http://www.cricketweb.net/content/bo...ewsIDAuto=4692

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