John Birch was born in Aspley, Nottinghamshire, on 18 June 1955. He made his First-Class debut in 1973 and during his 15-year professional career he played 250 First-Class and 234 List-A matches for his home county. He was also a member of the Nottinghamshire squads that won the Club’s first post-war County Championship titles in 1981 and 1987.
Birch was a versatile middle-order batsman and medium pace bowler. It was not until 1981, eight years after his debut, that he became an established part of the Notts first team, his ability to adapt to the match situation being a key reason for his inclusion. He was regarded as someone who could pile on runs quickly if his team were in a strong position, or who could occupy the crease if the team were quickly losing wickets.
This versatility allowed him to remain a mainstay of the team despite his modest batting average of 27.53 and a contribution of only six First-Class centuries, although he did contribute 51 scores of over 50. Birch recorded his highest First-Class score of 125 against Leicestershire at Trent Bridge in 1982; in a game where only one other batsman passed 50, he helped Notts to score 400 in the first innings before victory was completed by an innings and 105 runs.
Birch was also a handy medium-pace bowler who collected 50 First-Class and 35 List-A wickets. His best career performance – and his only haul of five or more wickets in an innings – came against Hampshire at Bournemouth in 1975; his figures of 6 for 64 helped Notts to a 43-run first innings lead, although the match ended in a four-wicket defeat.
After retiring in 1988 Birch became Nottinghamshire Head Coach and his most impressive achievement was to win the 1991 Sunday League by just two points ahead of Lancashire having won 13 out of 16 games. This would be Notts’ last limited-overs trophy until they beat Glamorgan in the 2012 Final of the YB40 competition.
Birch resigned in 1992, and since leaving Trent Bridge he has held various roles at local cricket clubs; in 2019 he was Manager of the Clifton Village CC 1stXI that gained promotion to the Notts Premier League.