Richardson fils knows the city very well, having studied Finance, Accounting and Management for three years at the University of Nottingham (following three years at Stonyhurst College in deepest Lancashire), during which time he played two seasons a mile or so along the river south-west of Trent Bridge for the wonderfully named Notts Unity Casuals CC – the place at which Notts’ Director of Cricket Mick Newell played all his club cricket, from the junior ranks right up until he finished in 2002. (Incidentally, Unity were not founded by football hooligans, nor are they some sort of oblique satirical reference to Kelvin Pietermaritzburg’s applecart upsetting.)
“I was told that if I had any ambition to play for Nottinghamshire, I should go and play for them”
Richardson recalls, possibly victim of one of
the oldest sales lines in English league cricket. Newell claims never to have
seen Richardson bat at Unity (“busy”, he reckons) but did once share a beer
down there with Richardson Snr. Mind you, the presence of his father used to
make Michael “a little nervous, for some reason”.
Also at Unity for Richardson’s first season was adopted Son of Notts, Darren Bicknell – Surrey-born, of course, but still up here playing for Caythorpe in the Nottinghamshire Premier League as well as Cambridgeshire in the Minor Counties Championship, and still scoring runs in that slow-motion-yet-never-rushed manner of his.
Richardson says that he learned much from
‘Denzil’, a batsman who fell just 69 shy of 20,000 first-class runs: “He always
used to have a quick strike-rate, but not really liking for shots. Because he
was such a good timer of the ball, he didn’t really look to manufacture
anything. He just batted within his means and made the bowlers come to him”.
There in the second season was livewire Pakistani Test keeper Adnan Akmal, “a lovely chap, actually, who took the gloves from me”, just as he later would his own brother, Kamran.
Richardson now spends his winters working for Durham’s main shirt sponsor, Brewin Dolphin, the year-round residency helping him in his quest to gain a UK passport (at present, he plays as an EU passport holder, courtesy of his half-German mother, that he cannot pass on). The work also ties in with his degree as he keeps half an eye on his post-cricketing life, where he may also follow his father’s footsteps.
But for now, aged 25, he wants to develop his game further and add to his nine first-class appearances. Standing in his way is the redoubtable ‘Colonel’ Mustard: “It would be a lie if I said I didn’t [look at the county cricket wicket-keeping merry-go-round] but I’ve got a few opportunities with the seconds and I’d like to break in to the first team as a batsman”.
If he does, he’ll be secretly hoping his Dad isn’t there to watch.
The above was published by the Guardian on County Cricket - Live! for August 17, day three of Nottinghamshire vs Durham. Report here.