Richard Kenneth Oliver
November 14, 1989, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire
Left hand bat
Right arm medium
A less passionate, less stubborn fellow might have given up on a career as a player. But not Richard Oliver. After spending eight years as a professional in club cricket - the summers in England, the winters in Australia - "bashing the door down" (as he put it) in the hope of attracting a county, he finally won a break.
Kevin Sharp, standing in as Worcestershire second XI coach for the unwell Damian D'Oliveira, phoned Oliver and invited him to play for the county's second XI. Sharp knew Oliver form his time coaching Shropshire and was a player short for a game.
Oliver responded by scoring two centuries for Worcestershire's second team against Derbyshire, one in limited-overs cricket and another in the longer form of the game, and then another against Lincolnshire in a limited-overs game for Shropshire.
From there, he was quickly promoted about contracted players such as Tom Fell and Joe Leach for Worcestershire's first T20 game of the season. Suddenly, from opening the batting with Omar Ali for Shropshire, Oliver was opening the batting with Omar's brother, Moeen, for Worcestershire.
It proved an inspired selection. He responded by top-scoring for his side with 43 from 31 balls against Durham and followed it with an innings of 34 from 23 balls against a Lancashire side including James Anderson. Indeed, Anderson was seen giving Oliver some of his infamous "advice" after taking some punishment. He followed that with 77 from 43 balls over Northants, the reigning T20 Champions, and was soon afterwards offered the professional contract he had always wanted. He bought a caravan to live in during the summer months and stayed close to the New Road ground.
An unusually aggressive left-hander, Oliver made a maiden first-class century as an opening batsman against Gloucestershire a few weeks later and ended the season as a first choice selection in all formats.
But life in Division One proved harder. While he made one fine - and uncharacteristically slow - century against Sussex, he was dropped from the Championship side towards the end of the season while averaging 22.45. Meanwhile he failed to pass 14 in the List A competition and made only one 50 in the T20 Blast.
Worcestershire offered a new deal at the end of the 2015 season, but on the condition that Oliver remained in England to work on his game. For a man with such deep attachments in Australia, however, that proved a condition too far and he declined the deal. George Dobell
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