Nixon delights in perfect finale
Paul Nixon revelled in a “very special” send-off after helping Leicestershire to a shock victory over Somerset in the final of the Friends Life t20 at Edgbaston.
The 40-year-old wicketkeeper, who had announced he would retire after finals day but will now participate in the Champions League Twenty20 qualifier in India next month, brought his career in this country to the perfect end by picking up his third winners medal in English t20 cricket.
Few backed Leicestershire to see off the might of Somerset in the final, but a superb bowling and fielding performance ensured the Grace Road outfit successfully defended their total of 145 for six.
An emotional Nixon said: “It’s been a great journey. I'm hoarse as I’ve been very vocal and quite strong with the Somerset batters today because we wanted it badly.
“We're a little club and we have to get hold of any opportunity we can get. Thankfully today it was in the stars. It doesn’t get any better - it's very special.”
To cap a fairytale day, Nixon was involved in one of the game’s key moments as he belied his veteran status with a sensational catch to dismiss the dangerous Kieron Pollard.
The Cumbrian leapt to his right to pull off a breathtaking one-handed take and Somerset subsided thereafter, with part-time off-spinner Josh Cobb finishing with 4-22.
When asked about the wicket, Nixon replied: “The timing was right, everything was right. Mr Pollard is a serious player.”
He also admitted his side had looked to get under the skin of their opponents, adding: “We knew we had to be vocal and get in their faces.
“They are a good side and I think they bully you a little bit on their home ground and score massive scores. This wasn’t a Taunton pitch; the wicket helped us a lot.”
While Nixon, one of the county circuit’s most loyal and distinguished servants, will rightly command much of the attention in tomorrow’s papers, he was keen to credit his team-mates for their efforts in causing an upset.
“We have got a lot of good people at Leicestershire,” he explained. “We have a small squad so everybody has to come to the party and that's what we've done. Every single person in our team has won a game for us and that gives you great confidence.”
Spinners Claude Henderson, who conceded just 11 from four overs, and Cobb came in for particular praise.
“I’m delighted Claude Henderson did it again on the big occasion,” Nixon continued.
“He should have played 130 Test matches for South Africa, he was unlucky with apartheid and one thing or another. He’s a true gentleman of the game.
"He has mentored Josh Cobb, he has mentored Jigar Naik, who has a real massive future in the game, and you speak to all the world-class South African cricketers, they rate him as a person and for his cricket knowledge. He’s a wonderful man.
“Josh has been a guy we've gone to to bowl the odd over here and there but he's been working hard in the nets.
"It's about hard work. It's those one or two per cents behind closed doors that you work and have the strength of mind and belief to actually commit to on the big day.”
Although a final chapter of his playing career awaits in India, Nixon will now move into a coaching role at Leicestershire.
“I’m going to help the batsmen,” he explained. “I’ve been very lucky over the years to have had great coaches and I’ll be trying to take a little bit from those guys and put my own stance on it as well.
“I know all the players at Grace Road inside out. I held Josh Cobb in my arms when he was born, which is scary. I didn't drop him but I did hurt his head when I took the bails off!”