Chris Read first walked through the gates of Trent Bridge in 1998 as a promising teenage wicketkeeper. He retired 20 years later as one of most consistent and respected players in English cricket, having played for England, led Nottinghamshire to three major trophies, scored over 20,000 runs, and set a wicket keeping record which is unlikely to ever be beaten.
Born in Paignton, Devon on 10 August 1978, Christopher Mark Wells Read impressed with his glovework from an early age. He played his first List-A match in 1996 as a 16 year old, starting for Devon in a first round NatWest Trophy match against Sussex at Hove. He joined Gloucestershire in 1997 and played in a single Sunday League match. During the following winter, Read made his First-Class debut playing for England A in Nairobi against Kenya, having been chosen for the A tour of Kenya and Sri Lanka before making his full County debut.
With another fine gloveman, Jack Russell, already at Gloucestershire, Read realised he would need to move to play regular first team cricket and signed for Nottinghamshire ahead of the 1998 season. He immediately became a Trent Bridge favourite and was soon fast-tracked into the England side, making his Test debut just 14 months later at Edgbaston against New Zealand.
Between 1999 and 2007, Read played 52 times for his country – 15 Tests, 36 One Day Internationals and one T20 international. Despite being recognised by most as the country’s premier keeper, he was never a regular for England, often being omitted in favour of stumpers seen as better batsmen or those more vocal behind the timbers.
The main beneficiary of Read’s omission from international cricket was his County. He was part of Nottinghamshire’s 2005 championship winning side and would consistently prove his proficiency with the bat in County Championship cricket. He topped 1,000 runs in a season on three occasions and scored 24 First-Class hundreds, his top score of 240 coming at Chelmsford against Essex in 2007. He finished his career with 15,103 runs at an average of 38.72. Read also excelled with the bat in one day cricket, amassing 5,049 List-A runs and a further 1,428 in T20 fixtures. A total of 21,580 runs for Notts in all formats was definitive proof of his batting skills.
With fast hands and lightening reflexes, the quality of Chris Read’s wicketkeeping was a constant throughout his career. He rarely missed a game through injury and in September 2015, he reached the landmark of 1,000 dismissals in all his First-Class appearances. In his final year of 2017, Read eclipsed the County’s dismissals record of 967 set by Tom Oates ninety years previously. He completed his Notts career with 983 victims (939 caught, 44 stumped) and, given recent reductions in the Championship programme, set a record unlikely to be broken.
Read became Nottinghamshire captain in 2008 and led the County for 10 seasons, picking up three major trophies along the way. The first came in 2010 when Nottinghamshire claimed the County Championship in a dramatic final day of the season when they secured a draw with Lancashire. The top scoring batsman for Notts in that title winning season, Read was named one of the Cricketers of the Year by Wisden in 2011 for his contributions to that success.
Read had always been keen to lead Nottinghamshire to one-day success in a Lord’s final. He got his wish in 2013 and again in 2017 and led from the front in both games. In 2013, he top scored with 53 in the Yorkshire Bank 40 victory over Glamorgan. The Royal London One-Day Cup final of 2017 will always be remembered for Alex Hales’ remarkable innings of 187, but it was Read who provided valuable support with a run-a-ball 58 to help Notts overcome Surrey.
The final game of Chris Read’s career took place at Hove, the same ground where it had started in 1996 for Devon. With a high scoring draw needed to secure Notts’ return to Division 1 of the Championship, Read once again played a vital role. After Sussex had reduced the visitors to 65-5, Read steadied the ship, scoring 124 and putting on 242 for the 6th wicket with Billy Root, to help secure the crucial draw and promotion in a fitting finale to a fine career.
On his retirement, Read moved into coaching, initially at Uppingham School, but also with the County’s wicketkeepers. Many richly-deserved compliments came his way as he ended his career, not least from the Notts members and supporters who had taken the Devonian to their hearts and it was fitting that in 2019 he was elected as a vice-president of the club. Chris Read is one of the modern greats of Nottinghamshire cricket and it is appropriate that his portrait, painted by fellow keeper, artist and boyhood hero Jack Russell, should hang in the Trent Bridge Pavilion along with the other greats from the County’s history.