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Player Profile - Horton
Paul Horton (20)

Full Name Paul Horton
Nickname Horts
DoB 20th September 1982
Height 5' 10''
Bats/Bowls Right hand/Right arm medium
Shirt Number 20
Lancashire Debut 2003. Cap 2007
Tests 0
Not only has Paul Horton turned himself into a versatile batsman and a valuable member of Lancashire's teams in all forms of the game, he has also emerged as viable candidate to replace Glen Chapple as captain when the seam bowling all-rounder decides to hang up his boots.

It is just hoped that problems with a dislocated right ring finger through the middle of 2013 donít threaten his place in the slip cordon, where he has proved himself to be one of the most reliable in that area during recent seasons.

An opener in Championship cricket, who can either dig in or dash, or an accumulator in the middle order in the limited overs arena, the Australian-born Liverpudlian has shone in almost every situation. And most of them came in 2011!

Horton ended the campaign as the club's leading run-scorer in the Championship with 1,040 runs, yet he amazingly achieved that feat without scoring a century. In fact, he posted scores between 93 and 99 four times.

Added to that, the now 31-year-old right-hander, who has spent time playing first-class cricket in Zimbabwe during the winters of 2010/11 and 2011/12, also scored an unbeaten 97 and an unbeaten 95 in successive 40-over wins over Gloucestershire.

"If I had scored six centuries, people would have been looking at me rather differently," admitted the club's 2007 Player of the Year.

Horton also played a couple of crucial knocks in the Twenty20 competition; including 49 not out off 45 balls in the quarter-final win over Sussex at Hove.

Added to all of this, he took 32 Championship catches, finishing behind only Worcestershire's Daryl Mitchell and Warwickshire's Rikki Clarke. The reflex catch he took, diving away at first slip, to help dismiss now county colleague Jos Buttler in the final match of the campaign against Somerset at Taunton will live long in the memory.

Thankfully for Horts, as he better known to his team-mates, he did not have to wait too long to return to century-scoring for Lancashire because, after a slow start to 2012, he dug deep just when his side needed him in the second innings of the match against Warwickshire at Edgbaston in May.

Forced to bat out the final day and a bit for a draw, Horton finished with a brilliant 137 not out off 362 balls, an innings spanning seven hours and 35 minutes, to help avoid defeat.

He also scored 110 against Surrey at Guildford in July, finishing the first-class campaign with 742 from 17 matches, also including two further fifties against Middlesex both at home and away.

Horton only played ten Championship matches in 2013 due to two dislocations of the same finger, but he excelled in the latter stages of the season to finish with 645 runs, including three hundreds and three fifties.

Two of his hundreds came in successive innings against Hampshire at Southport and Leicestershire at Emirates Old Trafford, while all three of them came in his last six innings of the season.

He captained Lancashire in Championship and 40-over cricket during the summer as a stand-in for Chapple when he was rested or injured. But he rarely fielded in the slips as he attempted to protect his injured finger.

In the final Championship match of 2013, he passed 8,000 first-class runs in his career.

Horton, who arrived in England in his early teens, scored 99 in a Championship match against Essex at Old Trafford in 2005, but really broke through two summers later, scoring a combined total of 2,000 four-day runs in 2007 and 2008.

Not only was he named the Player of the Year, he was also awarded his county cap at the same awards ceremony in 2007.

Horton scored his maiden ton that season - 139 against Worcestershire at Old Trafford - and added two further three-figure scores, including a 149 against Yorkshire at Headingley. It started a fine run of form against the old enemy, which continued through to 2011 when he scored one of his nineties at Liverpool.

He scored two more tons in 2008, including another big one (152) against Yorkshire, adding one more Championship ton in 2009 and 2010.

Marrying one-day form with Championship form has not always been plain sailing for Horton, but there has been a definite improvement from 2009 onwards.

Regarded as one of the best skippers the county's under 17s and under 19s sides have had, he also first captained the first team as a replacement for Chapple in 2010.

Horton is a grounded player with an unfussy method and a fondness of the percentage shots - the tuck off the hip, the push into the gap and the deflection behind square on the off-side.

To date, Horton's first-class career best 209 came for the Zimbabwean side Matabeleland Tuskers in 2010, helping them to the four-day crown.

Graham Hardcastle
(c) Lancashire County Cricket Club Ltd
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