October 11, 2001

Richardson moves on but could still play ODIs - Turner

Having already lost the services of internationals Matt Horne and Paul Wiseman, Otago coach Glenn Turner was philosophical about today's announcement that Mark Richardson has joined the list of Otago's departing players.

Richardson, a member of the CLEAR Black Caps to Australia, is returning to Auckland to play his cricket this year.

"Mark's got to do what he's got to do. He's been here for 10 years and he has got to look to life after cricket," Turner said.

In light of the fact that non-One-Day International players will be available for only three matches in the State Championship, if they retain their places in the Test side, Richardson's absence was not as harsh as it might otherwise have been.

Richardson commented today: "I have really enjoyed my time in Otago which has certainly been a positive and supportive environment in which to develop my game.

"I am really looking forward to the challenge of playing in Auckland again with the State Auckland Aces," he said.

In 49 games for Otago, Richardson scored 3089 runs at 39.10 and hit eight centuries, behind only Bert Sutcliffe (17), Ken Rutherford (14) and Turner (13) on the Otago honours board of century makers. He was 11th on the all-time Otago run scoring list.

Turner, who has been able to watch Richardson's transformation from a left-arm spin bowler who lost his way and developed into an international opening batsman, acknowledged Richardson's achievements.

"He has certainly been focused and single-minded and he has been prepared to put in a lot of work," Turner said.

The former New Zealand, Worcestershire and Otago opener said he first recalled Richardson when he attended camps in Christchurch as the country's most promising young left-arm spin bowler.

"It's always dangerous to say that someone is unique, but it is unusual for a player who was a tail-end batsman and our most promising left-arm spin bowler to become a Test opening batsman.

"He lost all his confidence with the ball but then started to work on his batting. He used to be a swashbuckler, and he's still prepared to play that way when he can," he said.

Turner still thinks Richardson could play One-Day International cricket for New Zealand and the disappointment he feels about his leaving Otago is based on the fact that Otago could have helped him achieve that goal.

"Most of the groundwork for that has been done, and it may be that he can build on that in Auckland.

"We still haven't seen the best of him as a one-day batsman," he said.

Richardson's adaption to Test quality batsman was based on the fact that he had sorted out what shots he could play.

"And players who can stick around are valuable. That hasn't always been the case and some [Turner talks with some personal knowledge here] have been criticised for doing that.

"I have spent lots of time with Richie and in playing spin he's improved," he said.

Turner didn't agree that Richardson was not equipped to play ODIs and felt that criticism of him in the field was based around people looking for reasons why he wasn't being selected in sides.

"He's not the quickest in the field, but he is capable nevertheless. If you were looking at two players of equal ability, what would be the differences in making a decision?

"If Richie bats as well as he is capable of doing, they would very quickly forget about his fielding.

"He overcame the hurdle of being a bowler who became a Test batsman, why can't he overcome this hurdle?

"That's as long as he scores ducks against Otago and gets all his runs against other teams," Turner quipped.