Born in Cowmes, Huddersfield, Yorkshire, England, Greenwood was a useful player verging on all-rounder, who also played for Yorkshire with Stockton-on-Tees (1861), the North of England (1863-1864), the United England Eleven (1865), the Players (1865-1866), England (1867), North of the Thames (1868) and the United North of England Eleven (1870-1875), appearing in sixty nine matches all together. A right-handed lower order batsman, he scored 1,244 runs at 11.96, with a best of 83 against Surrey.
Greenwood turned to umpiring even before his playing career was finished. He umpired forty six first-class matches between 1862 and 1886. With Bob Thoms, he officiated in one Test match, at The Oval between England and Australia in August 1882. It was after Australia won this match by seven runs that The Sporting Times wrote an obituary for English cricket, and bails were burned and put in an urn to create 'The Ashes'. He was no stranger to the Australian side, umpiring thirty two first-class matches involving Australian teams on their tours of 1880, 1882, 1884 and 1886.
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