Nixon: Land­ing the coach’s job at Le­ices­ter­shire! It’s a dream come true

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL NIXON www.paulnixon­

Re­ceiv­ing the phone call on Sun­day even­ing from Wasim Khan of­fer­ing me the job at Le­ices­ter­shire re­ally was a dream come true. It’s a club very close to my heart where I spent 20 years of my life; blood, sweat and tears. Le­ices­ter­shire is part of my DNA now.

I went in for the Es­sex job last year, got down to the last cou­ple but missed out to Chris Sil­ver­wood, who did a bril­liant job. I then went away to the Caribbean Pre­mier League again, which went well, so I just feel the tim­ing is right for both my­self and Le­ices­ter­shire.

I’m al­ready look­ing for­ward to work­ing with ev­ery­one. Le­ices­ter­shire have done so well off the pitch in the last few years, and are one of the few coun­ties that have had year af­ter year of net prof­its. We’ve pro­duced Eng­land crick­eters over the years, it’s just now the white-ball game has gone bet­ter than red-ball.

The four-day game has been well be­low par. It’s time now to get the foun­da­tions right and get the cul­ture and iden­tity right, too. We want to cre­ate a long-term, high-per­form­ing en­vi­ron­ment.

Get­ting the job all hap­pened very quickly. It was only a few months ago that for­mer Le­ices­ter­shire coach Pierre de Bruyn asked me to go and do some coach­ing with the age­group squads. I’d al­ready been do­ing some work with Lough­bor­ough Univer­sity and a lit­tle bit with the Eng­land

Per­for­mance Pro­gramme at Lough­bor­ough, too. It was quite out of the blue when Pierre left in Septem­ber.

I had a de­ci­sion to make, though. I was in­volved with one-on-one coach­ing away from Grace Road, and have busi­ness in­ter­ests in re­new­able en­ergy as well as my work with the Pro­fes­sional Crick­eters As­so­ci­a­tion, while I’m also part of a brain de­vel­op­ment com­pany.

So it wasn’t easy. I spoke to my wife Jen, and we’ve got a daugh­ter Is­abella, who’s nine now. We had a tough time, and thank­fully sec­ond time round IVF worked with Izzy and Jen fell preg­nant. It was then that we re­alised how lucky and spe­cial we were.

I’ve had 20 years of be­ing away from home, no sum­mer hol­i­days, no breaks be­cause of cricket. It’s tough on fam­ily life, so the big­gest thing I was work­ing out was ul­ti­mately ‘do I want to do it’. That was a ‘Yes’. Then I needed to know if Jen wanted me to do it and would she sup­port me. Be­ing so close to home makes all these de­ci­sions a lit­tle bit eas­ier. And Le­ices­ter­shire is so cen­tral; we are two and a half hours away from ev­ery­where. Of course there will be overnight stays for County Cham­pi­onship matches, but more of­ten than not, I’ll be com­ing home to my fam­ily. It re­ally is the right job at the right time. I’m ready now. Look­ing back, I prob­a­bly wasn’t as equipped a year ago with the Es­sex job as I thought I was, but I feel like I have def­i­nitely de­vel­oped now. I’ve been do­ing some per­sonal work and that’s all helped. As I say, though, it all hap­pened very quickly. I had a few chats with peo­ple around the club, and I’ve been blessed enough to be in teams that win tro­phies. I also spoke to Stu­art Lan­caster, the for­mer Eng­land rugby coach, who is a close fam­ily friend and we went to pri­mary school to­gether. We had some good chats and Le­ices­ter­shire chief ex­ec­u­tive Wasim Khan asked me if it was some­thing I would look at. I ap­plied and had an in­ter­view last Fri­day morn­ing in the Trevor Ben­nett Suite in the indoor school. I did my pre­sen­ta­tion about where I see the

It re­ally is the right job at the right time. I’m ready now. Look­ing back, I prob­a­bly wasn’t equipped a year ago with the Es­sex job as I thought I was

club now and how to take it for­ward and then on Sun­day even­ing I got a tele­phone call from Wasim of­fer­ing me the job.

I came in and we started do­ing some plan­ning on Mon­day morn­ing, and it’s been non-stop ever since. I’ve prob­a­bly had close to 500 mes­sages from texts to Twit­ter to What­sApp to LinkedIn to In­sta­gram to emails. It’s been off the chart, which has been very hum­bling.

That’s so nice to see. Le­ices­ter­shire are a club close to my heart, and I am hope­fully close to theirs. I’ve been in­volved in the game for close to 30 years and met a lot of great peo­ple, so many of them have come for­ward and wished us well.

They want Le­ices­ter­shire to get back on the crick­et­ing map. It’s a bit like West In­dies cricket, where peo­ple want to see them do well, just like they did in the Eight­ies and Nineties. Le­ices­ter­shire have had that suc­cess, win­ning the Cham­pi­onship in 1996 and 1998.

The club has been the whip­ping boys for too long now. They’ve been in good po­si­tions and just fallen away. The tal­ent and abil­ity is here, no ques­tion, we just need to make sure mind-sets, tech­niques, con­fi­dence and fun all come back to a higher level.

My ex­pe­ri­ence in the Caribbean will help with this role. Ob­vi­ously the coach­ing side speaks for it­self, you’re al­ways learn­ing when you’re coach­ing. But you’re bring­ing to­gether all sorts of peo­ple, from world-class pros to ju­nior play­ers with tons of abil­ity.You can think of your elite pro­fes­sion­als as your se­niors, and your academy guys need to blend with them.

Ul­ti­mately, the aim is to get the club back to the glory days. Next sea­son will be 20 years on from the last Cham­pi­onship suc­cess, and the peo­ple at this club de­serve those days to re­turn. The first thing I’m do­ing though is work­ing with the academy.

We need to make sure our academy and our per­for­mance pro­grammes are work­ing well. We need to make sure we are max­imis­ing the best coaches in the best ar­eas, and from there it will be tak­ing a closer look at the pros.

They’re on a bit of a break, but will be back in at the start of next month. I’ve spo­ken to a few of them briefly, but I’ll find out where ev­ery­one is with their con­tracts and their fit­ness lev­els. I need to know their plans, but I’ll speak with the physio to see where play­ers are in­jury-wise, too.

I’m keen to do some one-to-one work with the lads. I want to get to know them and their fam­i­lies – it’s re­ally im­por­tant to find out where they’re from and what mo­ti­vates them and know them on the deeper level.You need to build this trust up.

We’ve got Callum Parkin­son away with the Lions and Zak Chap­pell on the Pace Pro­gramme this win­ter, and we want to keep de­vel­op­ing. Le­ices­ter­shire have al­ways pro­duced their own. What Worces­ter­shire did this year is what Le­ices­ter­shire have done in the past. Huge con­grat­u­la­tions to Steve Rhodes for that, he’s a guy pas­sion­ate about his club and I see a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Steve and my­self.

We want to build for the long term. We haven’t got the bud­get of some­one like a War­wick­shire or Not­ting­hamshire who can go and dou­ble some­one’s salary. We have to do it within, but we are very proud of our per­for­mance pro­gramme and the Emerg­ing Play­ers Pro­gramme is world-class at Le­ices­ter­shire.

The game hasn’t changed in the last 20 years, it’s just per­cep­tions that have changed. At Le­ices­ter­shire, we need to get those per­cep­tions back to an elite be­lief. We can do that, it’s not rocket science. Wasim Khan had a five-year vi­sion, and he’s done that in three years, which is in­cred­i­ble. It’s now vi­tal we lift our games to make sure the club moves for­ward as one.

Glory days: Paul Nixon cel­e­brates win­ning the T20 fi­nal against Som­er­set in 2011 Caribbean gleam: Nixon dur­ing his coach­ing stint with Ja­maica Tallawahs

PIC­TURES: Getty Images

Ready to pounce: Paul Nixon be­hind the stumps in the County Cham­pi­onship dur­ing his play­ing days for Le­ices­ter­shire

De­parted: Pierre de Bruyn

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