Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Pridgeon Pride At Trio In Action As County Stage Annual Wopa Day

Pridgeon Pride At Trio In Action As County Stage Annual Wopa Day

Worcestershire CCC held their annual WOPA day for the Worcestershire Old Players' Association on Sunday – and it was a particularly proud occasion for former paceman Paul Pridgeon.

Pridgeon, who played for the county between 1972 and 1989 and took 530 first class wickets, has been the cricket professional at Shrewsbury School for many years.

And three of his former pupils, Worcestershire Rapids Joe Leach and Ed Barnard and Notts Outlaws James Taylor, were in action at New Road on WOPA Day in the televised NatWest T20 Blast encounter.

Pridgeon, who was elected onto the Worcestershire Board during the winter, said: "It was a great game for me on Sunday because three Shrewsbury School boys were playing, James Taylor, Ed Barnard and Joe Leach.

"It's nice to see them come through and follow their progress."

Leach has made great strides with the ball during the past two years but Pridgeon believes he always had potential with that part of his game.

He said: "You would not find a harder working cricketer than Joe. He has done really well and is reaping the rewards of that hard work.

"I'm not surprised his bowling has come on. When he came to school he was a batter and we developed his bowling and he got better and better.

"He is a very strong boy. He has picked up a yard of pace in the last 12 months which has made the difference.

"I always felt he had the potential to be a first class bowler."

Pridgeon, part of the 1974, 1988 and 1989 Championship winning squads, is enjoying his role with the county's Board.

He said: "I'm enjoying it, very much so, learning from it. There are a lot of people on there who have been on there a lot longer than I have so I'm learning the ropes.

"Hopefully I'm going to be in a position to put a little bit back.

"I've had a lot out of the club, I've enjoyed my time playing, enjoyed my time with some of the kids coming through."

There were many ex players at WOPA day – held in the 1865 Lounge – including current ICC Elite panel umpire Richard Illingworth, Tom Graveney, Roy Booth, Rodney Cass, John Inchmore, Bob Carter and Duncan Fearnley.

Pridgeon, who was also a fine footballer with Kidderminster Harriers, Stourbridge and Ledbury Town, said: "I think WOPA Day is fantastic. We all get together, we all have a chat, we talk about the cricket, we talk about the youngsters they've got playing at the moment.

"It is nice to see everyone. You've got Tom Graveney going back to the 60s and some of the younger guys as well. It's a real mix, it's nice.

"I'm in my 60s and I'm one of the younger ones!"

Bob Carter, part of the 1964 and 1965 Championship winning squads, said: "I think it is great to come back, tell the same old stories, and we get better as players!

"It does bring people who haven't seen each other for quite a while together.

"There are a lot of different eras. Those of us who survived from the 1960s and the 1950s, we love coming. I've been coming at least 12 years."