Paul James Horton
September 20, 1982, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Colo High School, Sydney; Broadgreen Comp Liverpool; St Margaret's High School
Paul Horton, once regarded as a batsman whose measured style was best suited to four-day cricket, gradually developed into a versatile performer in all forms of the game, as adept at scoring runs quickly as building an innings patiently. He also gained a reputation as one of the best slip fielders on the English county circuit.
Born and raised in Sydney, Horton moved to Liverpool and became part of the Lancashire set-up at Under-17 level, where he was captain before taking the same role with the U-19s. A consistent run-scorer in 2nd XI cricket, he struggled at first to force his way into a strong Lancashire team but when his chance came in 2007 he took it with both hands.
Three Championship centuries that season - helping him win the Player of the Year award - preceded two more in 2008 and a Lancashire-best 173 against Somerset at Taunton in 2009. He spent a couple of English winters in Zimbabwe, where he made his career-best 209 for Matabeleland Tuskers in January 2011.
He shone in particular in Lancashire's title-winning 2011 season, when had he not developed an unfortunate tendency to be out in the 90s he might even have merited a look by the England selectors. His 1040 Championship runs included four scores between 93 and 99 but no centuries. A technically reliable opener in four-day cricket, he made unbeaten scores of 97 and 95 in the Clydesdale Bank 40 batting in the middle order, in which role he further demonstrated his adaptability by hitting 49 off 45 balls as Lancashire reached Finals Day in the Friends Life T20 by beating Sussex at Hove.
There were not many Lancashire players who did not fall below their 2011 standard in 2012 but Horton still contributed some memorable efforts, notably a seven-and-a-half-hour epic at Edgbaston in May, when he batted out the final day to finish unbeaten on 137 to deny Warwickshire victory. He became Lancashire's preferred captaincy stand-in for Glen Chapple as his stock rose and by 2014, unanticipated by many, he was most successful in the limited-overs game, leading Lancashire to the NatWest T20 Blast final.
But he was overlooked for the captaincy when Tom Smith was named as Chapple's successor, with Steven Croft vice-captain. When Lancashire released him in 2015, after scoring 8374 first-class runs at an average of 36.09, Leicestershire, determinedly rebuilding after three successive seasons at the foot of Division Two, gave him an opportunity to extend his career.
He had a solid, if unspectacular, time at Leicestershire, who made him captain, at 35, after Michael Carberry was replaced less than two months into his first full season by the incoming coach Paul Nixon. The "fresh challenge" Horton had suggested he needed when he left Lancashire was now available in no uncertain terms, although he couldn't prevent another bottom-place finish in 2019 and saw the job go to Colin Ackermann.
Batting & Fielding