Paul Rupert Downton
April 04, 1957, Farnborough, Kent
Right hand bat
Right arm offbreak
Sevenoaks School; Exeter University
Paul Downton was a constantly cheerful character on the field, well-liked by his fellow professionals, and coped with the constant sniping of the press during his 30 England appearances with good grace. He was unfortunate that he followed two outstanding keepers - Alan Knott and Bob Taylor - and was, unfairly, viewed as an establishment figure. But behind the stumps he was a calming influence in a Middlesex side packed with big names, a side with whom he played the majority of his career. On retiring in 1991 he forged a successful career in the City and was appointed managing director of England cricket in October 2013.
He began his career at Kent, winning his cap in 1979, but the return of Alan Knott persuaded him to move to Middlesex, who themselves had been struggling to fill the void left by the retirement of John Murray in 1975. Indeed, it was Murray, in his role as an England selector, who was instrumental in getting Donwton picked to tour Pakistan and New Zealand as Bob Taylor's understudy in 1977-78.
He made an immediate impact with Middlesex, helping them to a Championship/Gillette double in 1980, and winning selection for that winter's Caribbean tour. He made his debut in Trinidad, ending the series with a match-saving 26 in Jamaica. But at Trent Bridge in the first Test of 1981 he dropped a straightforward chance, England lost to Australia, and he was replaced by Taylor for the next Test. The selection see-saw continued in 1984 when Downton was recalled following Taylor's retirement, and he was England's first choice until 1986, largely as a result of his much-improved batting, especially against quick bowling.
But his wicketkeeping, although generally sound, was blighted by the occasional high-profile howler and those cost him dear. He was in the England side which reached the 1987 World Cup final, and played in the first three Tests against West Indies in 1988 before being dropped as the selectors' desperation to stem the run of defeats increased. In 1990 he suffered a freak accident when a bail struck him in the eye during a Sunday League match, and what at first seemed a minor incident forced him to retire midway through the 1991 season.
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