Kent’s strongest side had a perfect deputy if Alan Knott was away
David Nicholls was a competent and loyal understudy to Alan Knott. A chunky wicketkeeper and left-handed batsman from Norfolk, he made his debut for Kent aged 16 in 1960 and played first-team cricket until 1977, when Paul Downton was emerging as an England player of the future.
Nicholls’ innings of 211 against Derbyshire in 1963 was higher than any other Kent cricketer making his first three-figure score. He did not, though, retain his place in a strong batting side as a specialist batsman until 1971, when he had his best season for Kent, scoring exactly 1,000 runs, and was to make only one more century for the county. He was quick to drive and pull and was well suited to limited-overs cricket, although he was more successful against quick bowling than when the spinners came on.
His wicketkeeping was assured rather than stylish but, when Knott was away on Test duty, Derek Underwood tended to be, too, so he mostly stood back to medium pacers such as John Dye, John Shepherd and Alan Dixon.
Kent cricketers of that era received good benefits and in 1980 Nicholls reaped £36,050. He was taken ill shortly before he was due to attend a Kent old players reunion and died not far from Gravesend, where he had gone to school. He was a popular and unsung member of the strongest side in the county’s history.
Career record M R HS Avge 100s 50s CT st
First-class 202 7072 211 22.23 2 34 326 13
David Nicholls was born on December 8, 1943 and died on June 10, 2008, aged 64.