Howzat? Wisden strips WG Grace of two tons

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Cricket bat (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Cricket bat (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

One of cricket's oldest career records has been rewritten after Wisden Cricketers' Almanack decided to reduce the number of first-class hundreds scored by England's WG Grace.

The Victorian-era sporting star, widely regarded as the founder of modern batting, was thought to have scored his 100th century for Gloucestershire against Somerset on May 17, 1895.

But Wisden, cricket's "bible" for more than 150 years, has now fallen into line with the Association of Cricket Statisticians and Historians (ACSH), who have long questioned the status of several "first-class" matches played by Grace.

As a result, 10 matches have been removed from Grace's record, reducing his tally of runs from 54 896 to 54 211, cutting his wickets from 2 876 to 2 809 and lowering his centuries from 126 to 124.

Now Wisden has ruled that Grace's hundredth hundred came a fortnight later when he also became the first man to hit 1 000 first-class runs before the end of May, one of only eight cricketers to achieve the feat.

The ACSH first persuaded Wisden to change Grace's statistics in 1981 but its editor, John Woodcock, then the cricket correspondent of The Times, reverted back to the original records the following year, saying he preferred "to leave the great man's figures as they have been for as long as anyone cares to remember".

But current Wisden editor Lawrence Booth told the Times: "The time has come to accept that the Almanack should be more concerned with record than romance."

In another change, Jack Hobbs's record tally of first-class hundreds has been increased.

It had long been widely accepted that the Surrey and England star, a giant of cricket in the early decades of the 20th century, had scored 197 centuries.

But Wisden has now decided two hundreds he made towards the end of his career for the Maharajkumar of Vizianagram's XI should also count as first-class, lifting his total to 199.

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