James ‘Jemmy’ Grundy was rather late in making his Nottinghamshire debut, having been born in New Radford in 1824 and therefore being 27 when he appeared against Surrey at The Oval in 1851.
He had originally been a professional with the Sherwood Forest Club as far back as 1842, but from 1844 to 1850 his name disappears from Nottingham Club cricket - for four seasons he was engaged at Holkham by Earl of Leicester.
In 1851 Grundy began a long stint as a ground bowler at Lord’s and was immediately successful in major matches for MCC. He took no less than 135 wickets in major games that year. Lillywhite’s Guide credits Grundy with 107 at an average of eight runs each.
Lillywhite goes on to say that Grundy has a very fair and fast delivery with a ‘cutting’ and ‘twisting’ ball’. He took seven wickets in his first county game. He preferred to bowl against the wind, claimed that it ‘steadied him’.
Grundy was a late starter in county cricket, but in the next 16 seasons he missed only one major Notts match. Grundy also played 19 times in the annual Gentlemen v Players match, again commencing in 1851.
Although he also appeared for Clarke’s England XI, in 1852 he was the major Notts figure to sign up for the United All England XI, formed that summer by John Wisden in opposition to Clarke.
Grundy remained with the United XI until its demise in 1867.
William Caffyn gives a detailed description of Grundy as a cricketer: ‘He was one of the best plucked men I ever saw on a cricket field, and could generally rise to the occasion, either to keep runs down or to obtain them, when necessity required. His bowling may be described as fast medium, with a little break back. He bowled very straight, and could drop the ball on a cheeseplate if so minded.
‘Indeed this was the class of bowler to which he belonged. He bowled at the wicket, always endeavouring to beat the batsman himself, and not bowling for catches; so it may easily be imaged how successful he was when anything peculiar in the ground helped him…As a batsman he had excellent defence and being always very cool and collected, could often keep his wicket up till further orders, when required to do so.’
The last of his 52 matches for Notts came in 1873, but so far as MCC were concerned he was a major umpire in the seasons 1869 to 1871.
Having started out as a lacehand, Grundy set up a grocery business in Nottingham and then in 1863 became landlord of the William the Fourth Inn, Carrington. He moved to the Midland Hotel in Carrington in 1866 and during his tenancy the Notts CCC AGM was held at that hotel. Grundy died of gout in November 1873 at his hotel. His daughter married the Notts cricketer Charles Clifton, and three of his sons were useful players - James junior was engaged at Lord’s in 1869, Joshua played for Notts Colts in 1870 and John appeared for Warwickshire in 1886 and 1887.