Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

Oliver Combines Playing With Preparing Wickets Down Under!

Oliver Combines Playing With Preparing Wickets Down Under!

Richard Oliver will have first hand knowledge of the wickets he plays on for Geelong City in Australia this winter – as he will have helped to prepare them!

The Worcestershire opener heads to Melbourne today (Wednesday) for another winter Down Under after a first season at New Road which he began as a triallist but ended up winning a contract until the end of the 2015 campaign.

But former Shropshire captain Oliver will also again assist with working on the square at Geelong, a skill he has acquired from working at various clubs during the past decade.

The left handed batsman even had a short stint on the groundstaff at The Kia Oval two years ago and was reunited with some of the staff there when part of the Worcestershire squad for the LV = County Championship and NatWest T20 Blast games on the ground this summer.

He said: "I was on the groundstaff at The Oval for a short while. In 2012. I went for the deputy head groundsman's job and they said alright, we'll have a look at you, come and have a couple of weeks with us and see if you like it, and we like you, and if it's a good fit we can look at it.

"I did two weeks and soon realised that if I wanted to be a groundsman then cricket would have to take a hit and I wasn't going to sacrifice playing cricket although I did like doing the ground at the Oval. It was a fantastic experience.

"I had a good chat with the groundstaff when I was 12th man for the four-dayer. They were saying 'you are not going to get a game are you?' so it was nice to play in the T20 match there and get a few runs although disappointing to lose.

"I did everything, rolling, cutting, pushing the covers, everything, but I've been a groundsman all my life really. I've always been a groundsman, coaching or playing.

"I started at 14 at my village club Woore near Stoke and did that for 10 years. Then I took it a bit more seriously when I was in Australia for my district club Willetton Crows in Perth and since I've moved to Geelong, I do the wickets at Geelong now as well.

"Everywhere I've gone, I've done a bit in that direction alongside playing cricket and coaching. It is great."

Oliver played in the final seven Championship games of the season and, although his form tailed off in the final couple of games, he still ended with an average of nearly 40.

He said: "I wasn't expecting it (the chance to play Championship cricket) but it is what I hoped to do.

"I said all along that I didn't want to be pigeon-holed as a white ball cricketer who only had one way of playing."