Leicestershire County Cricket Club Head Coach Paul Nixon has been described as a club legend. Having spent 18 years at the club in total, he was destined eventually one day to end up as Coach.
Paul spent ten seasons at Leicestershire between 1989 and 1999, before a short spell at Kent.
“We had some wonderful times at Leicestershire.” he said.”We peaked as a team and a few guys had started to move on, Alan Mullally andChris Lewis and I felt David Millns was just getting over his peak and I had an offer to go to Kent as they were desperate for a keeper batsman, Steve Marsh was close to retirement now, we need some energy and somebody who can do a good job with the gloves and score some match winning runs.” Kent told me.
“Kent had got into some financial difficulties and with Geriant Jones coming through and they said to me we are going to have to save money and unfortunately won’t be able to offer you a new contract, but fortunately for me Leicestershire had fallen out a little bit with their wicketkeeper Neil Burns and I was offered an opportunity to come back to Leicestershire, and it was the perfect fit for me really.”
Paul was offered the Head Coach’s job at Leicestershire, which he relished.
“It’s been part of my life for past 25 years. It was a great challenge for me.” he said.”I had done a little bit of coaching as a player and luckily I got the opportunity to go out to the Caribbean and coach in the Caribbean Premier League.” Paul worked with two greats of cricket out there, Chris Gayle and Kumar Sangakkara and won the league twice in three seasons.
In previous years Leicestershire have always been the basement boys of the County Championship, but under Paul’s leadership times are changing.
“We lost a lot of senior players together, the likes of myself Matthew Hoggard, Claude Henderson and H D Ackerman and it’s tough to fill those guys shoes especially when they all go together.” he said.”Leicestershire’s previous coaches went for a slightly older group of guys to try and get some instant wins but after a while those senior players start to go over the hill and things start to go down. We have started to look at it very differently with a good road map set out over the next five or six years and at least get the foundations of the club right, get the structures right and the academy right. We have lost close to eleven players in the last couple of years and a little bit more changes to go yet and we want to be more competitive in all cricket.”
With restrictions easing currently in the country, there is a good possibility that county cricket could resume by the beginning of August, but Paul feels we have to be careful how players workloads are managed.
“We’ve got to really focus on the structure.” he said. “It’s all good and great trying to play as many games as we can, red ball then white ball then red ball, but we have to be realistic with workloads because we don’t want to break bowlers. Any support from government that would let players get back practicing whilst being furloughed would really help save our game. With bowlers we have to look after their spines with the amount of pressure that goes into a bowlers body, with a minimum four to six week preparation time.”
Has there been any concerns from the Leicestershire players squad about a return to action.
“No, we’ve been great.” he said. “We have had regular Zoom calls and chats making sure the groups mental wellbeing is as good as it can be over these strange times. Guys are chomping at the bit and are desperate to get back. They are fit and well and we really want to hit the ground running as soon as we can.”
There is a huge concern in the game now about severe financial losses with the counties. Paul mentioned that Leicestershire currently are in pretty good shape.
“Our worse case scenario would be a half a million loss if we had no cricket and we did nothing.” he said. “In the grand scheme of things that is very good. There are a lot of clubs that could lose into the five or six million which have been talked about. We are happy as we are financially as a club and we are very positive about getting out to play.”
Interview with Paul Nixon