Richardson the man for Mitchell
It would be totally inaccurate to label Worcestershire a one-man team, but it is also fair to suggest they would not have retained their LV= County Championship Division One status this summer were it not for Alan Richardson.
In claiming 73 wickets at an average of 24, the Staffordshire-born seamer finished as the leading wicket-taker in the top flight.
At the age of 36, he also sent down more overs than any other bowler, with the exception of Sussex spinner Monty Panesar, and his economy rate of 2.68, boosted by 179 maidens, was among the most miserly in the country.
It is no surprise, therefore, to hear Worcestershire skipper Daryl Mitchell refer to Richardson, who last night won the award for Worcestershire's best team man for a second successive year, as "a captain’s dream".
Referring to his veteran status, a jovial Mitchell told ecb.co.uk: “At his age, to get in 16 four-day games is a hell of an achievement to be honest.
“It’s a credit to the medical staff and credit to himself. He’s one of the first guys in on the morning and he bowls his heart out in the nets.
“It’s very difficult to get the ball out of his hand. He always wants to bowl and he always wants to contribute towards victories. He’s a fantastic character to have around, he’s great in the dressing room and 73 wickets is incredible.”
Richardson’s ability to keep things tight, while remaining a potent wicket-taking threat, has understandably delighted Mitchell, who is hoping the former Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Middlesex bowler can continue to prosper in future years.
“He gives batters very little, but it’s the way he goes about that as well. He’s very attacking, he doesn’t hang it wide at all, he goes for the top of off stump all the time and he’s a very smart bowler,” Mitchell explained.
“He has developed in the last couple of years being able to swing the ball away as well and he hits the seam regularly and causes the batsmen trouble.
“Even when he’s not taking wickets he goes at two, two-and-a-half an over and does a great job for the team, so he’s been an unbelievable signing. He’s been fantastic for us for two years and hopefully we can get a few more out of him.”
Mitchell is determined to improve his own form as Worcestershire seek to build on an encouraging 2011.
The 27-year-old opener scored 751 championship runs at 32.65 this term and commented: “I’m pretty disappointed with that if I’m honest. In the last couple of seasons I’ve been consistently in and around 40 with my average.
“I missed a few games with injury this year and it’s the first time I’ve really been injured, which was disappointing as well, so (it was) not the ideal season for me, but the team is what is important.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to kick on next year and I’ll be able to contribute a little bit more.”