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Cricket news - 'Intensity and balance keys to success in T20s'

I feel improvising in T20s is good when it's your strength: Paul Nixon

I feel improvising in T20s is good when it's your strength: Paul Nixon

Paul Nixon, the former England wicketkeeper-batsman and a two-time winner in the Caribbean Premier League, is currently the head coach of Chattogram Challengers in the Bangladesh Premier League. In an exclusive interview with Cricbuzz, Nixon opened up about his team's preparations for the upcoming season of BPL, his own late-blooming playing career, what it takes to be a winning T20 team, and the novel aspect of The Hundred.

Excerpts from his interview...

What prompted you to join BPL?

I watched BPL on TV for many years. As an ex player and now as a coach, that kind of curriculum is always exciting. It is a great honour to be out here. And it's something all English coaches and coaches around the world want to come and enjoy and have the experience because the passion and the cold view of cricket here is outstanding. You know some of the local Bangladesh guys have been doing so well. Just had a tough time in India, who have got a high class attack. But to come here and feel the pressure and energy, it's wonderful.

How confident are you about the Chattogram Challengers?

The guys had already been here since the fourth and had a few days under the warm sun. Their energy level and their intensity level is still good and strong which is pleasing as a coach. Their attitude and companionship is wonderful as well. The team that stays together in this competition will do well. We spoke to the guys and one of the mantra is 'we wanna be at the table where every girl wants to sit on'. We gonna have fun and we are gonna support each other. And we got to keep pushing and driving forward. They are an exciting group of players.

You talk about intensity. Do you feel that is the key behind success in the shortest format?

Yeah, that's true but it's also about balance. You got to have fun and enjoy each other's company. We have started to live in the Big Brother house for five-six weeks now. We are gonna go through emotions. There is gonna be great happiness, sadness, nerves and we have to handle them well and respect each other well. Keep giving team environment. There is gonna be disappointment at some time but it's going to be a great journey.

You were known for your reverse sweeps back during your playing days...

Yes, absolutely. Reverse sweep worked well for me. My bottom hand was a bit further around and when off spinners used to throw, it came handy. Certainly in championship it was tough to score if you are chasing and so I worked on the reverse sweep and it became my strength. Nowadays, cricket is 360 degree game and bowlers are under too much pressure because the way batsmen practice and their bravery and their shots and their commitment to shots. The way they practice is outstanding. And we got to make sure that our group knows its strengths and areas they need to develop because we are going to work on our development areas before we go and execute it in the middle.

Do you feel improvising is the key to be successful in T20 or you feel there is still place for basic cricket?

I feel improvising is good when it's your strength. Whether as a bowler or batsman if you are successful in practice, then as a coach there is no problem. But if you are delivering things and you are letting the intensity of the game get to your mindset and you are not calm and not being focused then that can be dangerous. So it's about balance, you got to know yourself. Say in this camp, we got to know each other's movements and that's why batsmen are batting in partnerships. When they are in the middle they know each other's movements, their timing and thinking -- that's when these golden conversations take place.

"I watched BPL on TV for many years. As an ex player and now as a coach, that kind of curriculum is always exciting."

You won twice in CPL. What does it take to be a champion?

It takes preparation. It takes hard work, attitude, and guys with match winning attitude with the bat and ball. It is as simple as that. People who think well under pressure are the ones who deliver because if you are thinking right, you are likely to perform better in tough conditions.

Despite having a career spanning over 23 years, you did not have a long international career. How did you keep yourself motivated?

I wanted to be the best I could be every day. I always believed I wanted to play international cricket. Alex Stewart was a legend for England and he kept me out there for many years. We had some wonderful wicket-keeper batsmen for many years. Somebody said to me, as a 36 years old you make your debut, you go to Australia, you win the series in Australia, and you go to the World Cup in the West Indies. It was my dream to play for England. Because it's the sacrifice you made. Your family made sacrifices to make you this. It's humbling. You got one chance and you gotta make sure you gave your best everyday.

But how did you keep yourself hungry because you made your debut quite late...

Yeah you have got to have energy in life because you got to make it in life. You have got to make it happen. I think as a young farmer's son from the district on the north west of England my father gave me good work ethics. I had a passion and thankfully it's in my DNA. And now, I had many great mentors over the years. From Bobby Simpson from Australia who came to coach when we were 18 or 19 at Leicestershire. Humpsy was there many years ago and he was a wonderful cricketer and there was Winston Benjamin, the fast bowler from West Indies, and other wonderful players. I was lucky to be at Kent where I had a wonderful coach from New Zealand. Jack Shaw, right arm spinner from England for many years and there are many more like John Wright, from New Zealand and Tim Bone who was Leicestershire's head coach for many years. You take a bit from every one of those coaches and cricketers and you pick your own as well and I hope that was the main thing for me to be successful in keeping my hunger.

Do you feel joining Leicestershire as a head coach was something like a homecoming?

That is really true. Leicestershire gave me opportunity when I was 18 years old. I had 20 wonderful years there and then I had three years at Kent and then I played ICL, which was wonderful. Before the IPL started, I went to the Caribbean Premier League as well. We had a great experience there. And then I came back to Leicestershire. They have been struggling for a few years. Money has been tight but we have won more games in the first than the last by putting up a combined effort. We have got to do a lot of work together with the [Leicestershire] squad.

How do you see the future of 100-ball cricket? Do you feel that will be the next big thing?

I think it is going to be exciting. Because it is gonna bring a whole new audience to cricket. T20 made accessible. It's fast food of our sport. And people are working when you are playing red ball four-day cricket. People kind of can watch it in the evening because it gives them the time to watch. And now with the hundred-ball cricket it's going to be thick and fast with the momentum. And I think it's gonna be even faster. And great thing for us in England is that it's gonna be on terrestrial TV because having that TV is such a great thing because not everybody can afford Sky TV.

Do you feel it will be popular?

I think it will be popular and I think it will give us a new way of thinking about cricket because it's all about handling pressure and it will be extremely intense and if the young guys can play with the world's best in big games with full crowds, the intensity then that's the closest thing you get to international cricket

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