County news January 7, 2014

Welch new Derbyshire performance director

Graeme Welch has been appointed as Derbyshire's new elite performance director on a three-year contract. A former Derbyshire captain, Welch has earned a strong reputation as assistant coach at Warwickshire and was widely credited for his developmental role with the bowlers when helping the club to the 2012 County Championship title.

But after missing out to Dougie Brown for the role of director of cricket at Edgbaston, 41-year-old Welch has decided to pursue opportunities elsewhere. He also left Edgbaston for Derby during his playing career, before taking up his first coaching role at Essex.

Welch replaces Karl Krikken, who stepped down after being asked to reapply for his job in a management reshuffle triggered by Derbyshire's relegation from Division One.

"My experiences with Essex and Warwickshire have been a fantastic grounding, allowing me to learn my trade as a coach," Welch said. "I'm thankful for those opportunities which have fuelled my ambition to work at the top of the coaching tree.

"The opportunity to do that back at Derbyshire, where I had my best years as a player, is perfect for me. The new elite cricket performance structure shows the club's ambition and I completely buy into their vision and share the desire for success."

Chairman Chris Grant said that Welch was the right man to take charge of the new elite performance structure, aimed at cementing Derbyshire's reputation as one of the most well-run counties.

"It's great news for Derbyshire that we've been able to attract one of the best up and coming coaches around as we strive towards our ambition for sustainable success on the field," Grant said. "The pedigree of what he has already achieved in county cricket is there for all to see and he thoroughly deserves this appointment."

His appointment will have a knock-on effect elsewhere, with Worcestershire's Alan Richardson expected to announce his retirement from playing to take up the position of bowling coach with Warwickshire.

Though 38, Richardson remains one of the leading bowlers in the county game and led Worcestershire's Championship bowling averages in 2013. With 69 wickets at 19.82, he claimed 35 more wickets than anyone else at the club.

After starting his career with Derbyshire in 1994, Richardson also had respectable spells with Warwickshire and Middlesex before joining Worcestershire in 2010 and enjoying the best period of his career. He claimed 254 first-class wicket in four seasons for the club at an average of 22.07 apiece and, in April 2012, was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo