Thursday, 4 September 2014
RICHARD OLIVER: HITTING THE BIG LEAGUES
Last month, I did a short interview with Richard Oliver (no relation), formerly of Woore CC, who has enjoyed quite a summer. He started the season as a player with Reigate Priory in the Surrey Championship, and as skipper of Shropshire in the Minor Counties, for whom he blasted 148 off 82 balls in the opening MCCA Trophy fixture against Lincolnshire.
He was then given a couple of trial games with Worcestershire, invited by their new batting coach, the former Yorkshire batsman Kevin Sharp, until recently the Shropshire coach. He made 107 against Derbyshire (and a first-baller in the second innings) in his first outing, enough to convince Steve Rhodes that he was worth throwing into the revamped county T20 competition. He started well, with three scores in four innings in the pinch-hitting role.
A few weeks later, having made an unbeaten 292 in a 2nd XI friendly against Warwickshire, he was given a full contract. To date, his first-class batting has gone as follows: 13 and 65, 78 and 37, 62 and 18, 52 and 179, 1 and 0. That's 505 runs at 50.5. Pretty steady start.
It's a great tale – the passage from Minors to majors – and one that seems increasingly rare these days. It wasn't always the case. However, the lack of the annual shop window games provided by the old NatWest / Gillette / C>rophy, has largely closed it off. The Unicorns was an ersatz replacement, but the Minor Counties game has been transfigured. Does Richard Oliver give hope, then, to MInor Counties players in their mid-twenties?
That's the question I posed in a recent piece for All Out Cricket, pondering whether the new, Friday night T20 schedule, re-opened that possibility.
Hitting the Big Leagues (AOC 119)