It wasnt quite on a par with rejecting an Elvis demo or a Harry Potter manuscript, but whoever decided to release Alan Richardson from Derbyshire made a mistake. In his one First-class appearance in chocolate, amber and blue he took the credible figures of 3-60, although the impact of this was downweighted by them being against a typically weak Oxford University team. After leaving Derby Richardson took himself off to play for his native county Staffordshire, as well as slogging around the deserted grounds of Second XI cricket. Such persistence was rewarded with a contract with Warwickshire for 1999. When he took 8-51 (10-107 in the match) against Gloucestershire in September 1999, those who remembered Richardson as an ex-Peakite realised that Derbyshire had made an error. However, to be fair Richardson had only ever performed steadily in second XI cricket for the East Midlanders. He went on to have another four good seasons for The Bears, although his contribution to the Championship Trophys return to Edgbaston was minimal, with just 6 wickets at 88.62. However, a move to Middlesex for 2005 generated his best ever season, and he was virtually the only bowler to stay consistently fit and in form throughout the season, and without him Middlesex would almost certainly have been relegated from Division One of the Championship.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)