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WG Grace inducted into Cricket Hall of Fame

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the_graces.jpgOne of the most recognizable faces in cricket, WG Grace, was formally inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame before the start of the fourth ODI between England and Australia at Lord's on Saturday. The Hall of Fame, run in association with the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), recognises some of the truly great players from cricket's long and illustrious history.

A commemorative cap was presented to Grace's great, great grandson, Dominic and his son George, by the International Cricket Council (ICC) President David Morgan, ICC Director and England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) Chairman Giles Clarke and Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) Chief Executive Keith Bradshaw.

Grace's statistics are enough to explain why he becomes the 44th inductee into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame this year. He played 22 Test matches for England between 1880 and 1899, scoring 1,098 runs and amassed 54,211 first-class runs, including 124 centuries and 251 half-centuries spread over 44 seasons. He also took 2,809 wickets at an average of 18.14, including five wickets in an innings 240 times and 10 wickets in a match 64 times.

Grace, along with fellow Hall of Famer Frank Woolley, has scored 1,000 runs in a season the most times - 28.

Born in 1848, he made his Test debut aged 32 against Australia on 6 September 1880 at the Oval and proceeded to score a century on debut, finishing the match with 152.

Grace played for England on 22 separate occasions and played his final Test in July of 1899 against Australia, then aged 50 years and 320 days, making him the third oldest player to feature in a Test match, after fellow Hall of Famer Wilfred Rhodes and Australia's Herbert Ironmonger.

But impressive as the statistics are, it was Grace's method and character which marked him out as a key figure in the game's history. The beginning of Grace's career coincided with the birth of modern cricket as we know it (1864 also saw the legalisation of over-arm bowling and the first edition of Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack) and Grace is widely credited with introducing modern batting technique, combining a mixture of forward and back play with a sound defense.

His fame helped him earn a great deal of money through subscriptions and presentations, more than any professional player of his day, despite his amateur status. When he died of a heart attack in 1915 aged 67, the announcement shocked the nation already suffering the torments of war.

Dominic Grace said upon receiving the commemorative cap: "I think that, WG, my great, great grandfather, would have found it unbelievable that, 94 years after he died, people are still talking about him. "I'm sure he would have been honoured to have been recognised in this way and to be associated with the other names on the list of inductees, who are all undoubtedly great players. The ‘Doctor' is well recognised here at Lord's, so it is a pleasure to be here today to accept this cap on the family's behalf."

Adam Chadwick, MCC's Curator, said: "The fame and fortune acquired by WG Grace were the result of a unique combination of immense talent, an instantly recognisable image and a larger than life character. "His achievements and popularity raised cricket's profile to a level it has never surpassed in England. When future generations of English all-rounders appear, bludgeoning runs to all parts, taking key wickets and turning around matches by sheer force of personality, it is the huge shoes of WG Grace which they seek to fill."

The cap presentation ceremony is a key part of the celebrations to mark the ICC's centenary year as it acknowledges the greats of the game and the contributions they have made to ensure cricket is a great sport with a great spirit.

Other ICC Cricket Hall of Famers to have received their caps so far in 2009 are legendary New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee, former Australian greats Rod Marsh, Ian Chappell, Allan Border, Neil Harvey and Richie Benaud, former West Indies players or their family members or representatives - batting greats Clive Lloyd, Vivian Richards and Rohan Kanhai, champion all-rounder Garfield Sobers, the three Ws Everton Weekes, Clyde Walcott and Frank Worrell, opener Gordon Greenidge, fast bowlers Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall and Andy Roberts, and star off-spinner Lance Gibbs along with George Headley - also ex-South Africa batsmen Barry Richards and Graeme Pollock, former Pakistan stalwarts Javed Miandad, Hanif Mohammad and Imran Khan and England's Alec Bedser, Colin Cowdrey, Tom Graveney, Peter May, David Gower, Derek Underwood, Graham Gooch, Harold Larwood, Denis Compton, Frank Woolley, Sydney Barnes, Sir Ian Botham, Geoffrey Boycott, Wilfred Rhodes, Fred Trueman Sir Leonard Hutton, Sir Jack Hobbs, Jim Laker, Brian Statham and Alan Knott.

Further cap presentations will be made to the remaining 14 Hall of Famers during the course of the year and a limited number of new inductees, in addition to the 55 already chosen, will be named at this year's LG ICC Awards.

*ICC Cricket Hall of Fame - initial inductees (55): Sydney Barnes, Bishan Bedi, Alec Bedser, Richie Benaud, Allan Border, Ian Botham, Geoffrey Boycott, Donald Bradman, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Denis Compton, Colin Cowdrey, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Lance Gibbs, Graham Gooch, David Gower, WG Grace, Tom Graveney, Gordon Greenidge, Richard Hadlee, Walter Hammond, Neil Harvey, George Headley, Jack Hobbs, Michael Holding, Leonard Hutton, Rohan Kanhai, Imran Khan, Alan Knott, Jim Laker, Harold Larwood, Dennis Lillee, Ray Lindwall, Clive Lloyd, Hanif Mohammad, Rodney Marsh, Malcolm Marshall, Peter May, Javed Miandad, Keith Miller, Bill O'Reilly, Graeme Pollock, Wilfred Rhodes, Barry Richards, Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Garfield Sobers, Brian Statham, Fred Trueman, Derek Underwood, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Frank Woolley, Frank Worrell.

Photograph Copyright: ICC