Matthew James Nicholson
October 02, 1974, St Leonards, Sydney, New South Wales
Right hand Bat
Right arm Fast medium
A right-arm fast bowler and capable lower-order batsman, Matthew Nicholson learned his cricket in New South Wales, where he was a schoolboy star and the country's under-19 player of the year in 1992-93. During those years he developed what was a lilting run-up, a whippy, open-chested action, and a tendency to generate disarming bounce from his 6'6" height. But, for all of his early successes, Nicholson found it difficult to break into a strong New South Wales side and decided he would be better served by a shift to Western Australia. Initially, the relocation brought no change in fortune, but he made his first-class debut against West Indies in 1996-97 and illustrated substantial promise, only to miss the entire 1997-98 season with chronic fatigue syndrome, which was an after-effect of glandular fever. He was eventually able to control the disease through a diet free of alcohol, dairy and meat products and following 18 months on the sidelines signalled his return with a sizzling performance against England at the start of 1998-99. He supplemented 7 for 77 in the first innings with a maiden half-century, and subsequent success in the Sheffield Shield resulted in a surprise call-up to the Australian team for the fourth Test at Melbourne.
He claimed four wickets for the match after taking 3 for 56 in the second innings, but did not hold his place. A combination of further injuries and an occasional tendency to bowl with too much width ensured the 1999 tour of Zimbabwe was his last with the senior national team. A switch back to New South Wales came in 2003-04 and he picked up 39 Pura Cup wickets and Australia A selection. The following season he formed a brutal combination with Nathan Bracken and Stuart Clark, adding 47 first-class victims, including seven in the Pura Cup final victory over Queensland. A quieter 2005-06 followed and he was cut for the ING Cup final before proving he was still potent with 46 wickets at 31.97 to top Northamptonshire's tally for the season. It was a strong English summer all-round for Nicholson, who made 454 runs and belted 106 from 93 balls against Derbyshire. He remained a valuable performer for the Blues, including stints as captain, until his retirement in 2007-08, missing a home farewell in the Pura Cup final victory when the national bowlers returned. His final first-class action came with a second season at Surrey, but he left the county early, returning to Australia to become a New South Wales selector.
Cricinfo staff September 2008
Batting & Fielding