Chris Read may be a little bleary-eyed when he leads out Nottinghamshire for their defence of the County Championship title on April 14, but nobody at Trent Bridge will be complaining.
The captain and wicketkeeper has been invited to Lord’s on the eve of the county’s first game of the season against Hampshire, to accept his award as one of Wisden’s Cricketers of the Year.
Read’s recognition has inevitably been overshadowed by the discussion provoked by the decision of the Wisden editor, Scyld Berry, to decorate only four players this spring, with the missing fifth man thought to be the disgraced Pakistan youngster Mohammad Aamer.
In contrast, the 31-year-old Devonian’s award will be a popular and non-controversial one throughout the county game.
“I think it’s a huge honour for him, because I don’t think many county players get to be on the list,” said Mick Newell, the Notts director of cricket who has developed a close working relationship with Read since appointing him captain three years ago.
“It’s very much deserved as well, in recognition of what he’s done for Nottinghamshire, especially in the three years since he was made captain.”
It is more than four years now since Read won the last of his 15 Test caps, but England’s rejection has been his adopted county’s colossal gain.
“Chris is pretty good at compartmentalising things, so he’s just settled down to be a county cricketer,” added Newell. “I think the captaincy probably came at a good time in that respect, and he also had a lot going on in his family life with kids coming and things like that.
“In future years I’m sure he’ll look back on his England career with some pride, and more likely other people will feel frustration that he didn’t play more.
“Combining the captaincy with wicketkeeping is tiring, and certainly by the end of the season he’s more tired than he was in previous years. But Chris is pretty laid-back about most things. He doesn’t get overly stressed about it at close of play – he lets me do that.
“From a captaincy point of view he’s developing very nicely. He’s very calm under pressure. His batting has been the best it’s ever been since he got the captaincy, which is very unusual. And I haven’t seen any slackening off in his wicketkeeping standards, which is still the most important thing as far as he’s concerned.”
Read leads the team in their three-day game against Oxford University in The Parks, starting on April 9, when Paul Franks will open the batting with Mark Wagh.
Riki Wessels may have made an instant impression with a century against Surrey last week in his first innings since joining the county, but the South African is still likely to start the season in the second team.