February 26, 2002

Richardson recovers from his downer

Rather like a business chief executive marking up a a rising sales graph, Mark Richardson, the 31-year-old Auckland opening batsman, added another asset to his portfolio with a century against Otago at Colin Maiden Park today.

Richardson scored an even 100, the 16th of his first-class career which carried him into international cricket a few years ago.

This was Richardson's second century in consecutive games after reaching 133 against Northern Districts last week, and his third for the summer which gave him a Test century against Bangladesh.

For Richardson today's 100 proved to the doughty left-hander that he had worked his way out of the bad patch which had been his indifferent start, and then dismissal, from the VB one-day series in Australia.

"I enjoyed the Test cricket in Australia, and the overall cricket atmosphere with the excellent playing and training and match ground facilities," said Richardson.

The tour also gave Richardson the chance to watch and admire his favourite batsman, Matthew Hayden, the formidable Australian left-handed opener.

However, Richardson's total admiration for the man whom he regards as the best batsman in the world was later diluted by the fact that he played only four One-Day Internationals during the VB Series, and then twiddled his thumbs on the sideline for the remaining six matches.

"That was the real downer for me," said Richardson today.

"So in my matches for Auckland I have tried to get back into the methods I used at Test level, concentrating on scoring through the vee, playing down the ground.

"I have had a couple of long innings, I have not hurried over my runs, the pace of my hundred today was similar to that against ND last week.

"But I feel good, that I am striking the ball reasonably well and getting back into Test-match methods."

Now Richardson will have to wait until next week to find whether the national selectors want him for the three home Tests against England. On recent form Richardson should be among the first players picked.