Cricket has a long and distinguished history, having been played since the 18th century in England, and as an international sport since the first match between England and Australia in 1877. In that time there have been several distinguished sets of brothers who have played cricket at the highest level.
Australia has produced a number of cricketing brothers. Indeed, two brothers represented Australia in the very first international Test match, played between England and Australian in 1877. Dave Gregory, who captained the side, and his brother Ned both played in that match, although neither had a long-lived career. Instead that distinction went to David’s son, Sydney Gregory, who played 58 Tests between 1890 and 1912.
Although two brothers represented Australia in the 1877 match, England went one better when three brothers represented the England team in a Test match played in 1880. The youngest of these brothers, George Grace, died just two weeks after the game. The second, Edward Grace, had a long and impressive career representing Gloucestershire, although he only played the single Test match. It is the oldest brother who remains the most well known, W.G.Grace, perhaps the most talented, famous and important cricketer besides the legendary Don Bradman. W.G Grace is credited with transforming the way the game was played as both a batsmen, bowler and tactician, scoring almost 55,000 first class runs and taking over 2,800 wickets in a career that lasted over 40 years.
In more recent years Australia has produced a number of talented cricket-playing brothers. Greg and Ian Chappell both played for the fearsome Australian team of the 1970s, and both ended their careers with extremely impressive statistics. Ian Chappell was a fighting batsmen, not technically perfect or beautiful to watch, but impressive and dogged. He played 75 Test matches and scored over 5,000 runs at an average of over 42 runs per innings . His brother, Greg Chappell, was a far more accomplished and elegant batsman, who scored 24 centuries and average over 53 runs per innings, as well as holding the world record for most catches at the time of his retirement. A third brother, Trevor Chappell, also represented Australia, although he only played a small number of matches.
A similar contrast in styles could be found in another set of Australian brothers, fraternal twins Steve and Mark Waugh, who represented Australia in the 1980s, 90s and early 2000s. Steve was a fighting cricketer, starting his career as an all-rounder and ending as one of the world’s leading run scorers and great middle-order batsmen. He was never a stylish batsman, but was effective and accumulated runs in all types of conditions, averaging over 50 runs per Test innings at the end of his career.
His brother Mark, in contrast, was a beautiful batsman to watch, scoring runs with a range of classical shots played to perfection. Although Mark Waugh played 128 Tests, he was never regarded as equal to his brother in terms of reliability or tactically, and ultimately scored fewer runs at a far lower average than his brother, despite his huge natural talent. He was though, a world-class cricketer and an exceptional fielder.
There have been other brothers who have played international cricket together, including currently playing brothers Mike and David Hussey (Australia), Irfan and Yusuf Pathan (India) and Kamran and Umar Akmal (Pakistan). Whether any of these can match the achievements of the Waugh or Chappell brothers remains to be seen, but it does show that the long cricketing tradition of brothers representing their countries at the highest level remains intact.