Happy Birthday Paul Nixon
If there are two words that sum up Paul Nixon (Nico) as a cricketer, they would be commitment and enthusiasm. A farmer’s son from Edenhall near Penrith, Nico made his debut for Cumberland aged only 16, though his batting was not required, his two catches and a stumping ensured a nine wicket win for his county.
A year on the Lord’s ground staff followed and then Leicestershire. His record over 20 seasons with the county (in all formats) is nothing short of awesome;
19,418 runs with a top score of 173*
Behind the stumps;
He was a fundamental part of the two championship winning teams of 1996 and 1998, and then the three T20 wins. His catch to dismiss the aggressive West Indies batsman Keiron Pollard turned the course of the final against Somerset in 2011.
His top score of 173* was in response to a Kent first innings lead of 300 and ensured that the game was saved. In all, he scored 21 first class hundreds. His most successful season was in 1994 when he scored 1,046 runs.
With Alec Stewart keeping wicket for England for much of the 1990s, it seemed that International honours would elude Nico. He was selected as reserve wicket keeper for the England tours of Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2000/01, but Alec Stewart remained fit and he did not gain the coveted England ‘cap’.
Australia had totally demolished England in the Ashes series of 2006/07, some new blood and enthusiasm was required, and Nico was there to provide it. He has entertained many dinners with the story of his duck at Melbourne in his first match, but it all ended well with England winning the Commonwealth Bank Trophy, and Nico playing throughout.
The World Cup in the West Indies followed quickly after this, and though he had a good tournament with both bat and gloves, England were eliminated after the second round of matches.
What else? He captained Leicestershire in various formats between 2007 and 2009 and became Head Coach in 2017. He has continued traveling since his retirement as a player by coaching Jamaica Tallawahs in the Caribbean Premier League and Chittagong in the Bangladesh Premier League.
Maybe 10 years ago I was taking a group of visitors on a tour around Grace Road. As it was not a match day, I asked if they might be allowed to ‘step’ inside the dressing rooms. I was told it would be fine, though Nico might still be around. Yes he was, and he entertained them for 30 minutes or so in an impromptu question and answer session. Magic!
Richard Holdridge - Club Historian