Former West Indies captain Richie Richardson has signed to play for Surrey side Thames Ditton, according to a report in the Esher News & Mail. Richardson, who turned 47 last month, will play for the club as well as coaching the colts and senior sides.
"We've really fallen on our feet," Oliver Turnbull, the club's director of cricket, told the newspaper. "When I first said I was trying to get Richie Richardson, everyone just laughed, but as we got nearer to an agreement people started taking it more seriously. The general reaction is amazement. I am not sure people can believe that Richie Richardson is going to be joining us."
Richardson, who scored 5945 runs in 86 Tests between 1982-83 and 1995, will combine his cricketing duties with working for the Antiguan tourist board.
"I'm delighted to have agreed to come and play for Thames Ditton as their overseas amateur player for the season and for future years," Richardson was quoted as saying. "It's a wonderful club and I'm really excited to be joining and helping out."
"He's quite a private guy, who just wants to be Richie Richardson the person rather than Richie Richardson the Test star and have a barbecue and a beer with some mates and relax, which he can at Thames Ditton," Turnbull said.
The club plays at Giggs Hill Green, which is situated between Esher and Surbiton, and is surrounded on all sides by roads, and players have to cross one of them to reach the playing area. The roads and surrounding houses are within easy hitting distance.
The club, which plays in the fifth division of the Surrey Championship, has been in existence since the early 19th century. The first man to lead a side from England to Australia in 1861-62, Heathfield Stephenson, played for the club, as did Tom Richardson, the legendary Surrey and England fast bowler.