James Coupe Shaw, better known as ‘Jem’, was born on April 11, 1836 in Sutton-in-Ashfield. He joined Nottinghamshire in 1865 as a left-handed fast bowler and occasional right-handed batsman.
He was remarkably consistent and played in every consecutive Notts game in the ten years he was with the club. He also made numerous appearances in representative teams such as the Players, the ‘North’, and the All-England Eleven. He played against W G Grace many times and had some successes, including twice dismissing him for nought in 1871. Indeed, Grace was one of many that rated him the best bowler in England at one point in his career.
In a First-Class matches with Nottinghamshire, Shaw took 642 wickets for the club, with his best figures being 9-86; but even that was eclipsed in 1870 when against an England XI (not a full England side but a quality team) he took 10-20 – still the best bowling return for any Notts bowler.
His batting figures make for far less impressive reading, scoring a total of 467 runs, averaging 4.24. His highest score was 18. Richard Daft observed, “…he was never worth four run s against any bowling in his life”.
Shaw was awarded a benefit match in 1884, against Yorkshire at Trent Bridge, which raised the sum – impressive in those days – of £460.
Jem Shaw died of pneumonia on 7 March 1888 at Sutton-in-Ashfield; on his death certificate his occupation is given as ‘professional cricketer’.