Brendan Nash: Lion of Kent v2.0 © Getty Images
Brendan Nash: Lion of Kent v2.0 © Getty Images

It is said that circumstances, both external and individual, often have a profound influence on the way any individual responds to them. There are several instances in cricket history that bear testimony to this, but perhaps never has there been one that exemplifies a true sense of pathos as the one we are about to relate.

This is the story of a man whose father (Paul, of indigenous European stock) had represented Jamaica in the swimming events of the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games, and of one who had been conceived in Jamaica, his parents moving to Australia when his mother (Andrea, of African descent, and an accomplished dancer) had been carrying seven months.

This is the story of a man who had grown up with the strains of reggae music ringing in his ears and to the sight of his parents dancing to it. This is the story of the first white (or, shall we say, as they do in South Africa, ‘coloured’) man to play Test cricket for West Indies in 35 years since Geoff Greenidge, the Barbados and Sussex player, when he debuted at Dunedin against New Zealand on December 11, 2008.

This is the story of a man who was a continuation of a long tradition of middle-order West Indian batsmen who eschewed flamboyance and who added resilience to the middle order, in the tradition of Larry Gomes and Shivnarine Chanderpaul.

In short, this is the story of Brendan Paul Nash.

Brendan Nash, nicknamed Bubba, was born December 14, 1977 at Attadale, Western Australia. He grew up at Perth, Cairns, and Brisbane. At the age of 14, Nash played first grade cricket at Cairns, excelling at batting, and even scoring a century at this level.

When his obvious talent was spotted, he was encouraged to move to Brisbane. He was at the prestigious Nudgee College in 1993-94, an institution known to produce quality cricketers. He played Grade cricket for North Cricket Club in Brisbane as an all-rounder (Ian Healy, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Hauritz are other illustrious players for the team).

Nash was the leading Brisbane Grade cricket run-scorer in 1999-2000, and was firmly in the reckoning for the Queensland side in 2001. At this stage of Nash’s career, he formed a close association with Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Hauritz, all Queensland players at the time.

He grew up in the tough Australian club, grade and state levels of cricket and imbibed the gritty Australian work ethic that was to stand him in good stead in his cricket career. He was a man of moderate height (1.73 m), proficient as a left-hand middle-order batsman.

From 21 Tests Nash scored 1,103 runs at 33.42 with 2 hundreds. In First-Class cricket the numbers read 7,752 runs at 38.95 with 18 tons.

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Brendan Nash made his First-Class debut with Queensland against New South Wales (NSW) at Sydney in March 2001, beginning his career with 0 and 44. Queensland lost by 8 wickets.

He soon got accustomed to making big scores, and his maiden First-Class century came in his 6th game, Against South Australia, at Adelaide in February 2002, when he scored 157 in the Queensland 1st innings of 503 for 5 declared. He was, however, overshadowed by Martin Love, who retired hurt on 202 in the same innings. In the Queensland 2nd innings of 127 for 7 declared, 3 wickets fell at the team score of 93 with all 3 dismissed batsmen registering ducks (Nash being the one in the middle), although there was no hat-trick.

Nash’s next major contributions with the bat were in his 10th match, against NSW at Brisbane in October 2002, when he had scores of 176, opening the innings with skipper Jimmy Maher, in a 1st-innings score of 507 for 5 declared. He followed up by remaining not out on 81.

Having severed his ties with Queensland and reconnected with Jamaica, the land of his birth, Nash made his highest individual score in his 77th match, against Trinidad & Tobago at St Augustine in April 2011. He scored 207 (349 balls, 513 minutes, with 20 fours and 2 sixes) from #4 in a Jamaica 1st-innings total of 664. The game was drawn.

In his 85th match, against Guyana this time, at North Sound in February 2012, he went past 200 again, scoring 205 not out (from 378 balls with 18 fours and a six) in the Jamaica 1st innings of 454 for 9 declared. Jamaica won by 8 wickets, Nash remaining not out on 10 at the end.

Brendan Nash joined Kent in the County Championship in the 2012 season continued with them till 2015. It was in his 112th match, a Championship game against Gloucestershire, that Nash had a soul-searing experience.

The Division 2 game was played at Cheltenham in July 2013. Michael Klinger, the Australian captain of Gloucestershire, batted first, and the team put up a 1st-innings total of 562 for 5 declared. Chris Dent (153), Alex Gidman (211), who was run out by Nash, and Hamish Marshall (106) did the bulk of the scoring.

Kent declared on 389 for 5, Sam Northeast contributing 94 at the top of the order, and Ben Harmison (brother of Steve), remained not out on 101. Nash added a modest 9 to the total.

Gloucestershire declared their 2nd innings closed at 237 for 1 at stumps on Day Three, with the wicket falling on 151 when Chris Dent was dismissed for 82. Skipper Klinger remained not out on 102.

That left Kent with a victory target of 411 on the last day, or the option of batting out the day to achieve an honourable draw. Amazingly, Kent won the game by 2 wickets, scoring the required 411 for the loss of 8 wickets with 14 balls to spare.

The 2nd wicket of the fourth innings fell at the team score of 48 in 13.3 overs, when Daniel Bell-Drummond wad dismissed. Nash walked to the wicket at this stage. He faced 230 balls in 312 minutes, hitting 26 fours and a six.

As his long innings wore on, he suffered from sun-stroke, feeling dizzy and having blurred vision, and felt “like a boxer on the ropes, liable to be hit any minute.” It was, after all, the hottest day of the year.

Despite these physical problems, he persevered (his early Australian grooming inspiring him to soldier on for the team) till the 90th over of the innings, with the team total within 21 of the winning target, and his own score at 199.

But after the second ball of the 90th over had been bowled, and despite being only 1 run away from what would have been his third double-century, he felt absolutely exhausted and unable to continue his innings, and, very sadly, had to retire ill on his score of 199.

It was under these unfortunate circumstances that Brendan Nash became the first, and till date, the only player to have retired ill on his individual score of 199.

By then he and captain James Tredwell had added a crucial 58 to lift Kent from 332 for 7 to 390. Though Tredwell fell immediately afterwards, the last pair of Calum Haggett and Charlie Shreck saw them through, adding those 21 runs in 24 balls.

Brief scores:

Gloucestershire 562 for 5 decl. (Chris Dent 153, Alex Gidman 211, Hamish Marshall 106; Calum Haggett 3 for 87) and 237 for 1 decl. (Chris Dent 82, Michael Klinger 102*, Dan Housego 50*) lost to Kent 389 for 5 decl. (Sam Northeast 94, Rob Key 57, Ben Harmison 101*, Darren Stevens 75) and 411 for 8 (Rob Key 42, Brendan Nash 199rh; Craig Miles 4 for 72) by 2 wickets.