May 28, 2002

Bushrangers stung as Tigers recruit Oliver

Victoria's pursuit of a more youthful playing list has crashed into a significant early hurdle today with talented all-rounder Ben Oliver's decision to leave the state in search of greater opportunities in Tasmania.

Oliver confirmed late this afternoon that he has accepted a two-year deal with the Tigers that will see him renew a longstanding association with former Bushrangers' assistant and new Tasmanian head coach, Brian McFadyen.

"It's a really exciting opportunity for me," said Oliver of a shift that will be formalised in around four weeks' time when he settles in Hobart.

"It's an exciting time for Tasmanian cricket (too); they've developed some good young cricketers and I'm delighted to be joining that group, and hopefully helping them to enjoy some success in the future.

"Brian (McFadyen) and I have a good relationship and he certainly helped me in my time with the Bushrangers. I'm pretty excited to be able to be working with him again over the next couple of years and learning from him.

"It'll hopefully be really positive for my development ... to experience life outside of Victoria will be a very good thing for me."

The onset of osteitis pubis meant that the 22-year-old endured a frustrating 2001-02 season, limiting his time with the Bushrangers to two limited-overs appearances at the beginning of the summer.

Prior to that, he had established himself as one of Australia's most exciting prospects, performing with sufficient distinction to claim the 'Best New Talent' award in the Mercantile Mutual Cup competition the previous season.

A tall right arm medium pacer and talented right handed batsman, he was also a long-serving member of a succession of state and national underage teams during the formative stages of his career.

"He's a player who's blessed with an excellent attitude toward the game and, though he's recently been hampered by injuries a little bit, was really on the verge of making a big mark for himself before that," said Tasmanian assistant coach, Darrin Ramshaw.

"Potentially, he's a long-term player for us and he's very capable of producing at both one and four-day level.

"He's got ability with the bat and the ball; he's very talented in all facets of the game," he added of a recruiting coup that will allow the Pura Cup runner-up to strengthen an already deep reserve of all-round talent headed by current national representative Shane Watson and former Australian under-19 player Scott Kremerskothen.

Reaction was understandably more muted in Melbourne, where Oliver and Andrew McDonald had been targeted as the state's two leading all-rounders of the next decade.

"Ben Oliver is a player with obvious potential. He has his reasons for wishing to move to Tasmania and ... it was with great regret that we accepted his resignation," said Victorian Cricket Association chief executive, Ken Jacobs.

Oliver's move south compounds contract manoeuvring in Victoria that has already stripped Damien Fleming, Colin Miller, John Davison, Peter Roach, Shawn Craig and Peter Harper of their status as required players.