Interview: Chris Read

Photos: Joe Dixey
Interview: Scott Oliver
Tuesday 21 October 2014
reading time: min, words

One of Notts’ best loved servants and county cricket’s most respected performers, Chris Read arrived at Trent Bridge seventeen years ago and has been club captain for the last seven of those. We caught up with the Outlaws’ talisman to reflect on his time here…



You’re part of the Notts furniture now. What’s kept you here all this time?
First and foremost, moving’s never really crossed my mind. My career’s been one of two halves: in the early part I was heavily involved around the England set-up and it was always an absolute pleasure to come back and settle back into the Notts dressing room. Aside from the fact it’s a fantastic ground and, for me, the best place to play in the country, I think we’ve always been, after the first few years of my time here, in contention for trophies - that’s a massive incentive for all cricketers. One thing that Mick [Newell, Director of Cricket] has done exceptionally well over the years is to plan for the future, to make sure we are in contention for all three competitions.

What is it about your relationship with Mick that works so well?
I think it’s because we’re different. We cover a lot of bases between us. He thinks about the game 24/7. He wakes up at 4am and reads the day’s press because he can’t sleep. I’m the opposite, I’m more relaxed and less emotional about the game and results. We gel together quite nicely.

Is it taxing to captain and keep wicket at the same time?
Yeah. Although, again, I think the longer I’ve done the job, the easier that side of things has become. In my first couple of years, my standards behind the stumps slipped a little because I was often concentrating on what I was going to do next, wondering, “How are we gonna get this bloke out?” rather than watching the ball. Over the years I’ve worked out a system; when the bowler starts his run-up, it’s all about the ball. In between is thinking time.

You followed on as skipper from Stephen Fleming, rated one of the best international captains of recent times. What did you learn from him?
It was brilliant. I didn’t know I was going into a captaincy role until the last season, when Stephen said he wasn’t going to come back. That year I had about six months of just being a sponge to him, “Why’ve you done that? What are your key thought processes?” The overriding memory of him is that he planned meticulously. When he believed in a plan, he stuck with it. And he made everyone buy into that plan. He was calm so when he spoke he made people believe in what we were doing. That was one of his great strengths.

So what gives you more pleasure: a hunch that works, or a plan that works?
Ooh, good question… I think they’re equal. You love it when a plan comes together, when it’s well thought-out and delivered perfectly. With a hunch, you have more of a laugh about it among your teammates.

Do you have a favourite stumping down the years?
We played against Somerset in the Championship, and there was a bowler called Gareth Clough who didn’t play a lot of red-ball cricket. It might even have been his debut. Anyway, Justin Langer [Australian great] – who was always, erm, a very strong competitor; let's put it like that – was batting in the second innings, and it was coming towards the close of play. Cloughie was bowling – and Langer would probably back himself to deal with Cloughie more often than not – and he slipped an inswinger down the legside. I’ve taken it and, as I whipped off the bails, Langer got a spike caught in the wicket, tripped, and fell forward. So not only was he stumped down the legside right at the close of play, but he was also given out when he was lying face down in the dirt. He was quite fiery, was Justin, and he went absolutely wild at himself as he was walking off. We tried hard to suppress a few giggles...

How long do you envisage yourself playing?
I’m not sure. I’ll see out my contract for next year and I’d like to play a year past that, but it really depends on fitness and form. Last year my form with the bat wasn’t good and it got me thinking: is this just a blip or is it me reaching the end? Fitness-wise, I’m pretty good, but you get more niggles as you get older – more in the winter with all the training you do. It just kills me. Muscle tears. Although I probably play too much hockey.

What about fractures - an occupational hazard for a keeper’s digits?
I’ve dislocated my thumbs a couple of times, but I’ve never had a broken finger, touch wood. When I was younger, keeping wicket before it was mandatory to wear helmets, I had a few where I was head-butting balls, and I’d get home and my mum would despair. There was one in a T20 semi-final when the ball nicked a bad and bounced straight into my tooth. Fortunately it was a crown, so it popped out, and I was scrabbling around in the dirt trying to find it.

It’s been over seven years since you played international cricket. How do you reflect on your England career?
Really mixed emotions. It was quite a long passage, from 1999 to the beginning of 2007, on-off, on-off. I’m exceptionally proud of the way I kept wicket for England. Batting-wise, it wasn’t good enough, and stats will back that up, but I always felt it was very much a case of, “You’ve got a Test Match or two and if you don’t get runs, you’re out again.” And that was always a hard situation. I always like to think that, given my career record in first-class cricket, I’d have been able to succeed at international level had I been given a slightly longer run or been backed a little bit stronger.

The West Indies tour in 2004 would be a good example…
That was another bittersweet moment. It was England’s first series win there for thirty-odd years. Great to be part of that, and I was exceptionally proud of the way I kept in the first three games – I didn’t score many runs, but no one did, really – only then to be dropped for the last one, a flat pitch, and your career’s on hold again. Like I say, bittersweet memories.

Do you follow any of the other Notts’ sports teams?
In terms of supporting, it’s not really in my nature to get overly excited about watching other teams. My parents-in-law are Forest supporters, and they’ve already got my son wearing full kit, so I like to see them doing well, but it’s not a passion of mine.

Lastly, I’m led to believe that you’re renowned for your stamina at Notts’s end-of-season social…
Erm… well, it’s certainly not something I’d like to boast about. For years I used to organise the socials with Wayne Noon [first team coach]. But it gets harder to recover, and since I turned thirty, I’m the guy who has a good time and goes home by ten o’clock because I can’t hack it.

Ready picks a Best Four-Day XI he’s played with at Notts
(two overseas player limit)

1. Darren Bicknell
2. Alex Hales
3. Stephen Fleming (c)
4. Kevin Pietersen
5. David Hussey
6. Mark Ealham
7. Chris Read (wk)
8. Graeme Swann
9. Andre Adams
10. Ryan Sidebottom
11. Darren Pattinson*

*(“because I haven’t played enough with Broady”)

Trent Bridge Cricket Ground website

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