'Cricket was in the way of a good time' - Richardson
Alan Richardson has become the grand old pro of county cricket after being honoured as one of Wisden's Five Cricketers of the Year. But it was not always like this. He began life as a teenager at Derbyshire and has admitted: "Cricket was almost in the way of me having a good time."
Richardson took 73 wickets for Worcestershire last season and remarkably, at 36, it was the first full season he had ever played. Few bowlers in the history of county cricket can ever have matured so late.
He was signed to Derbyshire in 1994 and by the end of the 1995 season he was already out of county cricket. "I was a 19-year-old kid," he said. "I had no idea what was expected of me. It was like I was at uni." It was four years before he played county cricket again.
Things have changed now, and Richardson believes he is in the best shape of his entire career. "I have to warm up to warm up, that is the only issue I have," he said.
Richardson, who deferred university to chase his dream of playing cricket, is not sure what job he may do next, but while he was still playing at Middlesex he was offered a coaching position. With 10 wickets against Surrey last week, he can enjoy the game for a little while yet, saying: "The physio thinks he can get another year, maybe two years out of me."
Some players might be bitter about not playing for England, but not Richardson. "I think I should be really proud at playing over 140 first-class games, I didn't think I'd get double figures at one stage," he said. "And it's better than being a landscape gardener."