Thursday, May 11th, 2017

Richardson: Local Derby Will Have “added Spice”

Richardson: Local Derby Will Have “added Spice”

Warwickshire bowling coach Alan Richardson knows the Bears' visit to Worcestershire Rapids tomorrow will be a Royal London Cup match with "added spice."

Any meeting of the teams comes with extra edge from their passionate local rivalry – a derby which Richardson has experienced from both sides.

Formerly a player and now bowling coach at Edgbaston, in between he was at New Road for four highly successful seasons, during which he took 254 first-class wickets at 22.07 runs apiece and was, in 2012, named one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year.

The West Midlands derby is one of county cricket's special duels. And while the sides have had very different fortunes in this seasons RL Cup – Worcestershire flying high while the Bears have found it hard going – Richardson knows tomorrow's tussle will be as competitive as ever.

"I've sat on both sides of the fence and know how much it means," he said.

"For the players, it's an opportunity to play in front of a big crowd where the game means a lot to the supporters of both sides. It has that added spice.

"There is a little bit of feeling because the clubs are so different. Some Warwickshire supporters might regard Worcester as the country bumpkins down the road and the Worcester members talk about the city boys and see it very much as an underdog thing. They really want to beat the bigger club up the road.

"I'm really looking forward to the game. Whether I was a Worcestershire or opposing player, I always found Worcestershire's fans very knowledgeable and appreciative. They just want to watch good cricket so it's always nice to go there.

"It's a great rivalry and the two sides have fought out some fantastic one-day matches in recent years. We know we'll have to play really well because they are a strong side. They bat all the way down with Jack Shantry, who's scored a championship hundred, at 11.

"They play this new brand of cricket where they aim to get 350 every single time, like Leicestershire did against us at Leicester the other week when they kept coming hard. It's a case of 'we might get bowled out for 200 but, if not, we'll get a big total.'

"That's a brave way of playing and one we have to adapt to. It will be another tough challenge for us."

A challenge, most of all, for the bowling attack. The Bears' bowlers have taken some punishment in this season's RL Cup – although they are far from alone in that.

"The landscape of one-day cricket has changed massively, especially in the last couple of years, with 300 pretty much a par score," said Richardson.

"Guys are having to learn new skills and face new challenges, physically and mentally. These days you need a hell of a lot of resilience to be a bowler in one-day cricket and realise that fortunes can fluctuate wildly from day-to-day. You can bowl similar spells in successive games and get four for 30 one day and none for 80 the next.

"That fluctuation is more exaggerated now than ever in white-ball cricket and you have to be prepared for that and have clear plans.

"Every rule that's been brought in over the last 20 years has helped the batsmen so bowlers are constantly trying to find ways of keeping batters quiet. Someone will always come up with something new – who would have predicted that a slow half-tracker would become so effective as a slower-ball bouncer?

"But it's definitely getting more challenging for bowlers."