May 06, 1975, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire
Right hand bat
Right arm medium
Alleyne's High School (Stone)
Alan Richardson is a man who took the scenic route to success. He graduated through the Staffordshire system and signed for Derbyshire for the 1994 season, but it was to take more than a decade-and-a-half before he could truly be said to have fulfilled his youthful promise: in April 2012, a month short of his 37th birthday, he was named as one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year.
It was the culmination of a career that had, on several occasions, come perilously close to stalling. Released by Derbyshire after two years and just one first-class appearance, Richardson spent three years out of the professional game and playing for Staffordshire before signing for Warwickshire at the end of 1998. Falling out of favour at Edgbaston in 2004, the season he played a bit part in the county's championship success, Richardson moved to Middlesex where he enjoyed a resurgence before injury intervened. By the time his contract at Lord's ended, after the 2009 season, Middlesex were more interested in Richardson's future as a coach than a player. But he felt he had unfinished business on the pitch and Worcestershire was the only club offering a guarantee that he could extend a playing career that had promised rather more than it had delivered. He always baulked at the 'journeyman' tag but, when he arrived at New Road, he had taken 314 first-class wickets at an average of 30 in a 15-year career. The tag fitted rather too comfortably.
At Worcestershire, however, injury free and valued, he finally justified the years of sacrifice and struggle; the years of working nightshifts in factories; the years of learning his trade and honing his skills. By then, Richardson had developed into a wonderfully consistent, high-class seamer who hit the pitch hard and generated seam movement in either direction from just back of a length. His action might never be described as pretty, but it is high, repeatable and effective.
In 2010 he took 59 championship wickets as Worcestershire achieved promotion, before claiming 73 in 2011: it made him the highest wicket-taker in Division One and played a colossal role in helping his club - quoted by some bookies as 20-1 on near certainties to suffer relegation - remained in the top division for a second season in succession for the first time. Tellingly, he claimed 29 wickets in Worcestershire's four championship victories. Generating steep bounce from a high, slightly fussy action that he refers to as the "windmill", Richardson maintained a wonderfully nagging line and length and generated enough seam movement in either direction
He came close to an England cap. In 2008 he enjoyed a good A tour to India and was subsequently called to the holding camp in Abu Dhabi as England deliberated whether to return to India following the terrorist attacks in Mumbai at the end of the year. "I was in the room when they were listening to the security briefing and thinking to myself 'even if every one of them says they won't go, I will'." It wasn't to be. Those hopes may have gone, but Richardson can reflect with pride on a career that has seen him overcome many setbacks to establish himself as one of the leading bowlers in county cricket. It is all he ever wanted.
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