Nixon humbled by messages

Date: Friday 20th October 2017
Paul Nixon celebrates winning the T20 Cup with Leicestershire at Edgbaston in 2011 — just weeks after announcing his retirement.
Paul Nixon celebrates winning the T20 Cup with Leicestershire at Edgbaston in 2011 — just weeks after announcing his retirement.

of support as he takes upthe reins at his “home club”

SIX years after retiring from first class cricket with Leicestershire, Eden-born Paul Nixon has returned to his “home club” as head coach and says he he has been humbled by the hundreds of messages of support he has received.

Nixon, a wicketkeeper/batsman who grew up in Langwathby and played for Edenhall and Penrith — the latter at junior level — represented the Foxes for 22 years in a highly successful playing career that saw him lift five trophies at the club and also represent England in one-day internationals and a T20.

The 46-year-old has since worked as a coach, winning the Caribbean Premier League twice in three attempts with Jamaica Tallawahs.

During his time in the Caribbean, he worked with world-class players such as Chris Gayle, Kumar Sangakkara and former Leicestershire CCC all-rounder Shakib Al Hasan.

He said: “I am imensely proud and honoured to be returning to Leicestershire as head coach. The club has always been close to my heart and I have lived in the city of Leicester for 30 years, so I know how much it means to everyone here.

“The reaction to my appointment has been very humbling. I have had 400-500 messages of support; I have been bowled over, but it’s lovely. Everyone has been wishing me and the club well — from Stuart Law (West Indies coach) and Jimmy Adams (former West Indies Test player) to Leicester City Football Club and Leicester Tigers Rugby Club as well as ex-colleagues, players, umpires and Cumbrians.”

Nixon explained that his time in Jamaica sparked his love for coaching following his retirement.

He told the Herald: “Leicester offered me a batting coaching role the year after I finished, but I turned it down. I wanted to go away and gather my thoughts and get skills in coaching.

“I was offered a Caribbean coaching role, which was short term, and that really sparked my love of coaching and reaffirmed my knowledge about coaching, game plans and people. It went well; we won two trophies, and I then went in for the Essex (coaching) job and got into the last two with Chris Silverwood.

“The Leicestershire role then came up — it’s on my doorstep and it’s my home club. It is the right time for both. My life is a script!”

Nixon fills the vacancy left by Pierre du Bruyn who was sacked after barely a year. The challenge that awaits him is substantial as Leicestershire finished bottom of the county championship this year, failing to win any of their matches. They also failed to qualify for the knockout stages of either limited overs competition.

However, he feels there are talented players at the club, but confidence is low.

“We have some good players down here, but they are low on confidence. There have been quite a few mixed messages and the foundations are not quite right, but I am excited by the talent we have,” he said.

“The balance of oversesas players and not enough youth coming through is also an interesting area.”

He used Ned Eckersley and Neil Dexter as examples of the talent at the club, saying the former had scored 14 centuries in 100 games, while the latter also had a very good record.

“Quality does not leave, but confidence and technique can — it’s about a bit of fine tuning,” he said.

Nixon’s motivational skills are well-known and will be put to good use in his new role. He said: “I have always been driven and I now have to build relationships as a coach and get Leicestershire’s identity back again. Anything is achievable.

“I enjoyed lots of success as a player with the Foxes. We won the county championship twice and got to five T20 finals days in nine years, winning on the three occasions we got to the final. I’d like to thank the club for believing in me. I know that I can make a positive impact in my new role and I can’t wait to get started.”

Nixon was full of praise for the off-the-field efforts at the club, which made a healthy profit last year. “It was refreshing to come back and see how well the off-the-field area of the club is doing. I came back to the ground looking fantastic, with brand new floodlights. The vibe around the place is still fantastic and there are concerts, picnics and films held there. There is a lot going on.”

He said this was down in no small part to the chief executive, former first class player Wasim Khan MBE, who is also CEO of the Cricket Foundation’s £50 million Chance to Shine campaign, which aims to regenerate competitive cricket in state schools.

He added that he had “sown the seeds” to have Khan in a more “director of cricket role” as he feels has a lot to offer the club on the cricket side as well as the non-cricket.

Khan said: “We are delighted that Paul has agreed to rejoin us as our head coach. He is dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable, and has been a huge part of successful changing rooms both as a player and coach.

“Paul will get the very best out of the players. He has a positive outlook, a great attitude, and is a winner. All of those attributes make him the perfect person to take Leicestershire County Cricket Club forward.”

A few years ago Leicestershire boasted a membership of 5-6,000, and although that is way down now, Nixon said the ground was always full for T20 matches.

“County cricket is tough — it’s in the day when people are at work. White ball cricket (T20) is where clubs make money. As a non-Test arena you have to make as much money as you can from other sources, and it’s tough in Leicester, with other sports like football, rugby and basketball.”

Nixon played in Leicestershire’s County Championship successes of 1996 and 1998 and appeared in five T20 finals days for the Foxes, including the three title wins of 2004, 2006 and 2011. He scored 19,418 runs and claimed 1,231 dismissals for the club in 714 appearances across all three formats.

He made his debut in 1989 and was captain between 2007 and 2008. He recorded 12,088 first-class runs in 294 appearances for the county and his sixth wicket partnership of 284 with Phil Simmons at Durham in the County Championship triumph of 1996 remains an all-time record.

His tally of 1,423 runs in the T20 Cup is the highest accumulated by any Foxes batsman, and his 90 competition appearances — made consecutively — is also an all-time record.

Nixon is an ambassador for the Professional Crickets’ Association, but says his commitments have “wound down”. He also has several non-cricket related business interests, all of which he says can carry on without his direct involvement, and he has reduced the educational side of his coaching foundation, all of which gives him the time to dedicate to his new job.