Born in New Lenton, near Nottingham on April 11th, 1856, Arthur Shrewsbury was educated at the People’s College, Nottingham, and his first cricket appearance of which the records still exist, was for the college against High Pavement School, when he was 11 years of age.
He joined Meadow Willow CC at 15 and subsequently the more famous Nottingham Commercial CC. While playing for the latter he brought to the attention of the Nottinghamshire County Committee and on April 14th, 1873, appeared for the XXII Colts v the County XI at Trent Bridge. His score of 35, made without a chance, won him the prize bat for the best innings by a colt and also selection for XV Colts of England v M.C.C. at Lord’s, where he, ‘a mere boy, combated Alfred Shaw and Wootton with pluck as well as skill.’
Two further trials at Trent Bridge followed on April 6th, 1874, he made his debut for Nottinghamshire playing against the XXII Colts. This, however, was his only important appearance of 1874. His first-class debut came on May 17th, 1875, for Nottinghamshire v Derbyshire at Trent Bridge.
1876 saw his first century in first-class cricket – 188 v Yorkshire at Trent Bridge and in partnership with Richard Daft he created a new record for the 1st wicket of 183. He was presented with a gold watch, bought with the proceeds of a collection taken on the ground in appreciation of this innings. Perhaps even more significant than his first century was Shrewsbury’s selection for the Players v Gentlemen at Lord’s.
The seasons 1877 to 1880 were ones during which, though he played regularly for Nottinghamshire, ill-health prevented him from fully developing the talent he so obviously possessed. The last Nottinghamshire match of 1880 showed, however, that his genius was near fruition. The opponents in this contest were the Australians and Shrewsbury’s 66 not out in Nottinghamshire’s second innings, in a low scoring match, enabled the Count to triumph by a single wicker “He maintained his nerve and coolness, undaunted by his colleagues’ disasters and upon leaving the wicket was carried shoulder high to the pavilion.”
Led by Shaw and Shrewsbury, the leading Nottinghamshire professionals went on strike after the initial match of the 1881 programme and the dispute was not finally settled until the close of the season. Shrewsbury therefore appeared but once for Nottinghamshire. During the winter of 1881-82 he organised with Shaw and Lillywhite, a party of cricketers to tour America and Australia and though ill-health prevented him from partaking in the American section of the tour, the climate in Australia proved most beneficial to his well-being.
Including this trip, he made four Australian tours, all under the joint management of himself, Shaw and Lilywhite.
In the English summer of 1882, fresh from Australia, Shrewsbury prospered. For Nottinghamshire against Surrey at the Oval, he and Barnes added 289 before being separated, this being a world record for any wicket in first-class cricket. Shrewsbury also complied his maiden double century for Nottinghamshire in this match.
His two greatest Test matches in England were at Lord’s in 1886, when he scored 164 and again at Lord’s in 1894 his scores this time being 106 and 81, the former being described thus: ‘His batting was marked by extreme patience, unfailing judgment and a mastery over the difficulties of the ground, of which probably no other batsman would have been capable.’
For Nottinghamshire in 1885 he was ‘seen at his very best, which is high praise for so accomplished a batsman.’ He carried his bat through completed innings for Nottinghamshire v Middlesex at Lord’s, adding 177 for 7th wicket with William Attewell, a record for this wicket in inter-county cricket.
In 1886 he was equally successful and in 1887 he surpassed all his previous season’s performances, attaining phenomenal success of making only once before achieved by a batsman in first-class cricket, the batsman in question being W.G. Grace in his most prolific year.
Throughout his career, Shrewsbury was an excellent fieldsman; in his early years he fielded in the deep, but from 1883 onwards he invariably took the position of point, where even in 1902 he had few equals. In all first-class matches he bowled only twice: for England v Australia at the Oval in 1884 and for Non-Smokers v Smokers at East Melbourne when he bowled a single over allowing no runs, but including one wide.
It was hoped he would appear for Nottinghamshire in 1903 but on May 19th of that year he ended his own life at his sister’s house in Gedling. When this sad news arrived, the game at Hove against Sussex was promptly abandoned by common consent.
From 1875 to his death he was engaged each season by Nottinghamshire to appear in all their matches and is believed this was his only major cricketing engagement, though he was employed as a coach during April on various country grounds in the latter part of his career.