Alan Richardson will be part of a new-look coaching set-up at Blackfinch New Road this summer, working as Assistant Coach-Bowling Coach alongside First Team Coach Alex Gidman.
The duo played a major role in Worcestershire’s Vitality Blast triumph and reaching the semi-finals of the Royal London One-Day Cup in 2018.
It was a successful return to Blackfinch New Road for Alan who enjoyed the most productive spell of his career with the County via 254 Championship wickets in just four seasons.
Here Alan looks back at last summer’s triumphs and also to the challenges ahead in a Question And Answer Session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: You must look back on your first season back here, with Worcestershire winning a trophy, with a lot of satisfaction?
Alan Richardson: “I think so. If you said we were going to win a trophy at the start of the year, we would have snapped your hands off.
“The boys, certainly in white ball cricket, went about their business really well. They worked really hard and they got their rewards for that as the year went on.
“It was a really exciting time. We had some great group games in both formats of white ball cricket.
“Even the Kent game here, I think we learnt a lot from it, a great game of cricket to be involved in. Obviously, we didn’t quite come on the winning side but to play in those sort of games, whether you win or lose, are fantastic to be involved in.
“I look back now and we had a lot of big games of cricket and we came out on the right side in a lot of them but also contributed to some exciting stuff for people to watch.”
Question: It must be great experience for the lads to be involved in, games like the two deciders versus Warwickshire-Birmingham Bears at Edgbaston?
Alan Richardson: “I’ve only been back in and around the group for a short while but I was really impressed by the calmness we showed in those games.
“I don’t think if you had been in or around the environment pre-match you probably wouldn’t have known the potential importance of those games so the way that the boys carried themselves was absolutely magnificent.
“I think we saw performances that reflected that in those games. It was nice to see the way we performed in the majority of the ‘do or die’ games and gave ourselves the chance to win games of cricket.”
Question: It looked like yourself and Alex Gidman thrived on the responsibility you were given by Kevin Sharp in white ball cricket?
Alan Richardson: “It is nice to have that responsibility. Kev (Kevin Sharp) was obviously outstanding. He recognised that white ball cricket is probably not his strength so much.
“Whilst he loves all formats of the game, the red ball stuff certainly appeals to him more and it just showed he was so confident and secure in his own self that he would let me and Giddo run that a little bit.
“When I say ‘run it’, the players run a heck of a lot of it as well. They are very confident at the moment in their white ball cricket so we pretty much led each other along a little bit.
“Alex spoke to them at the start of the 50 over tournament and they just kicked on from there really. I absolutely loved having that responsibility, and I know Alex did as well, and we feel we work well together.”
Question: Since you retired five years ago, has the game evolved and changed a lot even in that short period of time. It seems a different game now?
Alan Richardson: “It seems to be. We talked about it last week and every year it seems like batters have evolved certainly in the T20 and 50 over competitions.
“Guys are consistently trying to move the game forward and find that little edge (extra) which potentially they wouldn’t have done 20-30 years ago.
“It is a real nice mixture of making sure you get your basics right as a player and also really trying to push yourself on. You can take the opposition out of their comfort zone whether it be a batter with a couple of new shots or as a bowler with different deliveries.”
Question: In cricket you have all the video footage on players and opponents would have studied Pat Brown and his superb success with different deliveries last season?
Alan Richardson: “Pat has got to keep getting better with those deliveries anyway but still the opposition have to learn to play it. They might know it is coming but playing it is a completely different matter!
“The message to Pat would still be to stick to the basics he showed last year, and he developed beautifully as the season went on, and we saw that as off the field watching, whether it be coaches or supporters.
“It is about evolving, making sure your basics are even better. I know that is something Alex stresses to the lads, making sure you are getting better and better with your basics and your strengths and then, if you can evolve little parts of your game, then fine.
“Pat will be under pressure, as all players will be next year. We are one of the better white ball sides in the country, we’ve proven that, and we’ve got to keep going again, keep pushing the lads, and they keep pushing themselves, to make sure they are right on top of their game.”
Question: A lot of members have commented on how good the ‘death’ bowling was last summer?
Alan Richardson: “I think that goes sometimes from the momentum and confidence you have from previous games. We took some nice momentum from the 50 over competition into the T20.
“The boys worked really hard, to make sure their skills were right on board, and then the message to them always will be that they keep it really simple, so not to have six or seven different deliveries and just be really good at two or three.
“In those big games and tight games we kept coming out on top and I’d like to think the hard work the boys put in, and the mindset they had, certainly gave us a chance of winning those games.”
Question: It sounds like the message is keep evolving but don’t be over-elaborate?
Alan Richardson: “I think so. Whenever a team talk about a good performance, invariably they’ve got the basics right, done the really simple things as well as they can, if not better, and I think that is really key.
“You can have all the shots in the world as a batsman but if you can’t keep out a good delivery you won’t get many runs and equally you can have the best slower balls in the world but if you can’t hit an area it will be very difficult for a bowler.
“It’s making sure you are really on top of those basics and then you can evolve.”
Question: Ed Barnard had another excellent season. Can you see him pushing for the England Lions after making the breakthrough last summer?
Alan Richardson: “I don’t see why not. He has to believe that is the case. He is a proper, three-dimensional cricketer.
“For him, it’s about whether he gets that opportunity and how England really see him. Is he a bowler who bats or a genuine all-rounder or maybe going forward a batter who bowls some of those middle overs.
“We love having him around. He does every job imaginable but, going forward, hopefully if he continues working the way he does then he will get some more recognition.”
Question: With yourself this year, are you looking forward to the new look coaching structure and being with Alex Gidman and the first team. Is it something that excites you?
Alan Richardson: “It certainly does. I really enjoyed working with Alex, and hopefully he did with me. In the white ball stuff, we worked well together and it’s exciting to take that into the red ball cricket as well.
“It’s great to have Kevin (Sharp) around as well, just like overseeing and someone we can speak to. Myself and Alex are still very inexperienced coaches so to have someone like Kevin with his stature and experience to go and bounce things off is great.
“He will watch us and I’m sure have lots of input and observations for us.”
Question: Can you believe it is five years since you retired as a player?
Alan Richardson: “It feels a lot longer than that and I look a lot thinner and younger on the pictures from those days!
“I will always have fond memories of playing here and it is so nice to be back but it does feel like a lifetime ago almost.
“I don’t regret finishing bowling because it was getting harder and harder but leaving the club at that stage was really difficult because it was, without a shadow of a doubt, the most enjoyable time of my career.”