Nixon to grab Christmas present with both hands

It takes a big strong or slightly deranged man, or somebody who is just about to leave the England touring party to play a practical joke on Andrew Flintoff. Matthew Hoggard qualifies for the first two, but it was probably the third option that provided him with the courage to cut the coloured adidas stripes off Flintoff's bowling boots when Michael Vaughan replaced him as England's captain.

To Hoggard, who is not a member of England's 16 man one-day squad, the removal of the stripes was symbolic, a fitting end to Flintoff's reign in charge. Fortunately, Flintoff saw the funny side of it and England supporters will be hoping that it is the first of many smiles for the all-rounder during the one-day series. The form of Flintoff without the pressures of captaincy will be monitored closely during matches against Australia and New Zealand, which began with a Twenty20 international against Ricky Ponting's side this morning. Another player who will be watched closely is Paul Nixon, England's 36-year-old wicket-keeper.

Nixon toured Sri Lanka and Pakistan with England as Alec Stewart's understudy in 2000-01, but is yet to make his international debut. During the Ashes Geraint Jones and Chris Read failed to impress with the bat but, even so, Nixon's selection came as a total surprise. He was not in the shadow squad that spent six weeks in Perth while the Ashes were still alive and England are meant to have several gifted young keepers playing county cricket.

Nixon owes his selection to his form with the bat with Leicestershire. The left-hander averaged almost 60 in first-class cricket last season and made important contributions in the shortened form of the game. And should he perform over the next month he would be the favourite to take the gloves in the World Cup in March.

"Being selected for the one-dayers is one of the best Christmas presents I have ever had," said Nixon at the Sydney Cricket Ground. "I am delighted to be part of a new, upbeat one-day squad. I'd be lying if I didn't say that the thought of playing in the World Cup is somewhere at the back of my mind, but for now it is all about doing well in Australia."

Nixon does not believe his advanced years are a problem. If anything he thinks they will work to his advantage. "I do not believe that age is an issue," he said. "I may be 36 but I'm as fit as anybody in the game and I still love playing. The wise old heads of Nixon, Jeremy Snape and Darren Maddy have done well in one-day cricket in England in the last couple of years, especially in Twenty20, and I think it is important to have a few calm heads around in these situations.

"Hopefully, my experience will help the team. I believe one-day cricket is all about roles. It is about people playing to their strengths. Michael Vaughan and Ian Bell are not six hitters, whereas Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff are. So it is important that players stick within their roles and try to take their egos out of the game. Players need to play with controlled aggression. One-day cricket is about taking options at the right time."

The volume of runs Nixon has scored will have impressed Duncan Fletcher, the England coach, as will his energy and bravado behind the stumps. He is not averse to the odd sledge and it will be interesting to see the response of the Australians to his antics. "I was fortunate to play with Steve Waugh when I was at Kent," Nixon said. "He used to talk about mental disintegration and I have always given and taken a bit. That's the game, and I admire the Aussies because they are generally the first guys to come and shake your hand at the end of a game.

"It's about strong characters, and whether it be in business or life strong characters get to the top. If there is something to be said at a certain time I will say it. The wicketkeeper has to remain positive and give out energy. He needs to let people know how well they are doing and create a feeling of calm. I know that I am better suited to the role of England wicketkeeper now than I was six years ago. I am a stronger person and I know my game a lot more."

Warne has 'no problem helping England'

Shane Warne's "affection" for England could persuade him to help the tourists recover from their Ashes humiliation.

The England coach, Duncan Fletcher, has said he would be interested in some help from the 37-year-old spinner, who responded by saying: "Australian cricket is my priority. I want the team to stay No 1 in the world and to help the sport to remain No 1 in the country ... beyond that, I also want to make sure that cricket stays healthy worldwide. So I would not have any problem with helping in England, New Zealand, South Africa or anywhere else. We live on a small planet these days. It was interesting to read Duncan Fletcher say he thinks I can offer assistance to England.

"That was very kind of him, especially after he said a few weeks ago that his batsmen were on top of my bowling. Perhaps he's changed his mind after Adelaide and Melbourne."

Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday


Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities