No echo of famous fall for Grace 50 Tests later

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The Independent Online

It was clear from the reception he was given as he stepped out of the pavilion - despite being introduced, initially, as Ed Smith - that yesterday's crowd recognised how much Nasser Hussain has given to English cricket.

It was confirmed when he completed his century by an ovation so sustained that Jacques Kallis, who was bowling, had to pause before resuming his over as the former captain acknowledged the deep warmth of the applause that greeted his achievement. However, the Nottingham public has not always been so generous towards the game's great names - even the biggest of them all.

As Trent Bridge celebrated its 50th Test match, historians naturally made reference to the first - and the hostile crowd that drove no less a figure than W G Grace to decide his Test career was finally over.

The occasion was 1 June 1899, when Trent Bridge became England's fourth Test venue after Lord's, The Oval and Old Trafford, and Grace led out the England side at the age of 50 years and 318 days, still the best known - and certainly the most easily recognised - sporting figure of his day. For all his immense talent, Grace was also a shameless intimidator of opponents and umpires, some of whom withered before his fearsome glare to the extent of scarcely daring to give him out.

To the 14,000 spectators who had each paid one shilling to see England take on Australia, however, Grace's reputation counted for little and his efforts in the field as the tourists batted first were openly scorned. The combination of age and his considerable weight meant Grace was hopeless unless the ball was hit straight at him and sections of the crowd took to jeering him mercilessly.

Given his legendary arrogance, few expected Grace to be perturbed but after being dismissed for one in England's second innings he concluded that the moment had arrived to resign, announcing his decision before the second Test at Lord's.

Hussain, having come into this Test with some critics questioning his presence in the side, should feel doubly honoured to have been so well received.

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