The History of Gray-Nicolls
H.J. Gray and Sons was founded in Cambridge by world rackets champion H.J. Gray in 1855 and soon built a reputation supplying rackets to University players such as Ranjitsinjhi and the future King Edward VII. The company is owned and controlled by the Gray family to this day. L.J. Nicolls started making bats in 1876 in his workshop in Robertsbridge, East Sussex; where the company is still based today; and supplied WG Grace with his record-breaking bat with which he scored his 100th century and made 1000 runs in May 1894.
Gray-Nicolls was formed in the 1940’s by the merger of two well known cricket bat manufacturers H.J.Gray and Sons, and L.J. Nicolls. At this time the company also acquired the famous brands of Shaw and Shrewsbury and Wainwrights. England captain Wally Hammond and Australian star Keith Miller used Gray-Nicolls.
The brand went from strength to strength in the 1950’s and 60’s and at one stage the captains of all 5 test playing countries (Ted Dexter, Richie Benaud, Frank Worrell, John Reid, Trevor Goddard) all used Gray-Nicolls. Major innovations included the revolutionary “Steel Spring” and the first shoulderless “Superlite” bat.
In the 1970’s Gray-Nicolls were the first to introduce coloured labels. Top Cricketers using the trend-setting Gray-Nicolls red flash included the Chappell brothers, Clive Lloyd, Tony Greig and Barry Richards. In 1974 the company broke new ground with the introduction of the revolutionary scoop bat. A new Gray-Nicolls factory was opened in Melbourne to supply the growing demand from the Australian and New Zealand markets.
Expansion in the 1980’s and 1990’s meant Gray-Nicolls had to move to larger premises in Robertsbridge. New innovations included the Dynadrive, Sabre and Millennium bats. Famous names such as David Gower, Robin Smith, David Boon, Javed Miandad, Sunil Gavaskar and Jeff Dujon used Gray-Nicolls and Brian Lara scored the highest ever first class (501) innings with the Scoop 2000.
The new Millennium saw the introduction our unique Carbon & Titanium handles. Successive England Captain’s Michael Atherton & Nasser Hussain proudly used Gray-Nicolls throughout their careers. More runs were scored with Gray-Nicolls bats than any other brand in the 2003 World Cup. Andrew Strauss, Matt Hayden, Mohammed Yousaf, Ram Sarwan and Daniel Vettori are all set to represent Gray-Nicolls into the future.
Gray-Nicolls and W.G.Grace
W.G Grace, one of the most famous Cricketers in history and a name that every Cricketer will know and respect. His stats speak for themselves; 54,000 1st class runs, even in today’s game, his astonishing performance records make the current top Cricketers speechless. His career spread across 44 seasons and in every season W.G Grace managed to wow the crowds with his fantastic ability and technical brilliance.
In 1876 in May alone he scored 839 runs and was one of two players who scored over 1000 runs for that season. Gray-Nicolls can proudly say that W.G Grace is one of their most talented and well-respected past master who has ever played the game of cricket for Club and Country.
Below is a photo of W.G Grace along with a letter he wrote to Gray-Nicolls thanking them for their support back in 1895.