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OLIVER REWARDED WITH CONTRACT AFTER IMPRESSIVE NATWEST T20 BLAST PERFORMANCES

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Hard-hitting batsman Richard Oliver has signed a contract with Worcestershire until the end of the 2015 season following his impressive displays in the opening matches of the NatWest T20 Blast.

Shropshire captain Oliver has been on trial with the County during the last month and admits he feels "privileged" to have been given an opportunity at New Road.

It is a chance the Stoke-on-Trent born player has grasped with both hands with scores of 43, 34, four and 77 in his four appearances to date for the rebranded Rapids in the NatWest T20 Blast.

That followed on from two centuries in quick succession by the left hander for the Second Eleven and then for good measure 148 for Shropshire against Lincolnshire.

Now 24-year-old Oliver, who has also been playing league cricket and coaching the game at Reigate, has been rewarded with the contract offer for the next season and two thirds.

Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes said: "Richard has been making a convincing case to be given a contract and showing what a good player he is.

"He has made sizeable contributions in three of the four T20 games so far and I think he and Moeen Ali enjoy batting with each other and complement each other.

"What has impressed me is that he hasn't looked out of place and he has got a good cricketing brain. I've been really pleased with the way he has played.

"He has come from Shropshire, he has played league cricket where he has got a couple of double hundreds and not many people do that.

"We gave him the opportunity to impress in the Second Eleven and he got two hundreds in two days and then had another for Shropshire.

"His scoring had been heavy and he deserved an opportunity. We had the basis of 10 good players in the T20 and it was a case of we could afford to play him in that eleven.

"We had plenty of batsmen and bowlers and it enabled us to give him a go at the top of the order.

"What he does do is hit the ball in some funny areas. He's got a very good eye, he times the ball and can hit the ball some distance.

"He has seen this as a fantastic opportunity to impress and, at the end of the day, what he wanted was a contract."

Oliver is delighted to have a crack at becoming a force in county cricket.

He said: "I used to come down to New Road as a kid and watch a few games. As a kid, you go around and watch professional cricket and you just aspire to want to do that everyday of the week.

"You never give up hope. You see a lot of the guys coming into the game peaking in their late 20s, early 30s these days.

"It might be a case of closing the door on yourself more than anything because I don't think any counties close the door on any players.

"As long as you've got the belief in yourself to keep going it doesn't matter if you are 22, 24, 30 whatever.

"At the end of the day if you've got the hunger to do it and work on your game hard enough, there is no reason why you won't be given a chance as long as you are bashing the door down in league cricket and Minor Counties."

Oliver was determined to make the most of his opportunity with the County.

He said: "Worcestershire got an injury, I came in for the week in the second eleven and got a couple of scores and it was a case of 'we'll ask him back again.'

"I got another couple of scores and again it was 'we'll ask him back again' and then it was 'six weeks later, we'll give you a yes or a no.'

"That's all you can do. I could have gone duck-duck-duck and they might have said 'don't bother coming back' after two weeks, who knows.

"That's the way it went and I'm ecstatic to be here."

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