Arthur Jones: Inventor of gully position and the first substitute to keep wickets in a Test

Arthur Jones. Photo credit: Wikipedia

On August 16, 1872, Arthur Jones was born in Shelton, Nottinghamshire. Jones played 12 Test matches for England and failed to impress (averaging 13.85 with the bat and 44.33 with the ball). However he was a sensational slip fielder and inventor of the gully position. Sarang Bhalerao looks back at the life of Jones who is the first person to keep wickets as a substitute in a Test match.

Arthur Owen Jones had a fairly distinguished First-Class career: 22,935 runs at an average of 31.54 and 333 wickets at an average of 32.81. He scored 34 First-Class hundreds and led Nottinghamshire for 14 seasons (1900-1914). However his Test career was modest to say the least. In 12 Tests he scored a mere 291 runs at 13.85 recording a highest score of 34. Wisden writes: “Always rather eager and impetuous, he had not quite the right temperament for Test match cricket. All through his career his fielding was even finer than his batting.”

All his good work came for his county. His stance was wide with both the knees bent. The clumsiness vanished as soon as the bowler released the ball. His hitting was free-flowing and clean. His off-side shots were especially good. He and Albert Iremonger recorded 24 century partnerships for the opening wicket.

In Jones’s debut match in 1892, he scored an impressive 17 not out in the first innings against Lancashire at Trent Bridge. Needing 222 to win in the fourth innings, he scored 38 while opening the innings and adding 75 along with Arthur Shrewsbury.

Jones scored 764 runs in 1896 with an average of 29; 702 runs in 1897 with an average of 29 and 756 runs in 1898 at the same average. He played some compelling knocks: 98 against Surrey in 1896, 162 against Middlesex in 1897. From the start of 1898, Jones batted splendidly and he was selected in the subsequent season for an Ashes Test at The Oval.

Test career

Jones scored 31 batting at No 9 on debut. England scored 576 thanks to hundreds from openers Stanley Jackson (118) and Tom Hayward (137). Australia were bowled out for 352. Bill Lockwood picked up seven wickets. Jones had wickets of Hugh Trumble, Victor Trumper and James Kelly. Those were the only three wickets in Jones’s career.

In 1905, on his 33rd birthday, Jones became the first cricketer in history to keep wickets as a substitute. He caught Warwick Armstrong off George Hirst.

In the winter of 1907-08 he was selected to lead England. He was severely ill and perhaps never fully recovered from the illness. He continued to play cricket for England from 1908. Five years later in 1913 he contracted a violent chill, which kept him out of action for two months. He suffered from tuberculosis and suffered a premature death in 1914.

Jones took captaincy of Nottinghamshire from JA Dixon in 1900 and continued to lead his county till 1914. Notts won the championship under Jones in 1907.

He excelled in Rugby football and he was regarded as one of the best referees of the game.

(Sarang Bhalerao hails from a family of doctors, but did his engineering. He then dumped a career in IT with Infosys to follow his heart and passion and became a writer with CricketCountry. A voracious reader, Sarang aspires to beat Google with his knowledge of the game! You can follow him on Twitter here)