Richard Oliver is not a name most people will be familiar with around the country but
the Shropshire Minor counties captain has made a real impression at Worcestershire since being drafted into their T20 side with just an hour's notice.
Oliver has now been given the opportunity for a six week trial and has been involved
in Worcestershire's opening T20 Blast games hitting scores of of 43, 34, 4 and 77 so far. His form in the shorter format of the game also earned him the opportunity to be 12th man for Worcester's four day County Championship game against Surrey at The Oval.
The Stoke born 24-year-old comes from a small town called Woore in the county and
plays club cricket for Reigate Priory in Surrey. He was part of the Shropshire youth system in the early part of his career which culminated in him making his full debut for the Minor counties side in 2008, at the age of 18.
He has now made the giant leap into first-class cricket but looks to be taking to it like a duck to water.
Oliver's introduction into the T20 Blast came when he was selected to play for Worcestershire against Durham at Chester-le-Street. The new boy hit a very promising 43 from 31 balls, including eight boundaries, and then followed this up with 34 from 24 balls against Lancashire the following day. Against Lancashire he faced the formidable duo of Jimmy Anderson and Junaid Khan but was not fazed by his battles with them, hitting both bowlers for a six.
The highlight so far though has to be his winning knock of 77 against defending champions Northamptonshire last week. His 43-ball innings included three sixes and nine fours as he ensured the Worcestershire Rapids reached their target with nearly six overs left as they won by 5 wickets. The only disappointment for Oliver was his dismissal from the penultimate ball of the match rather than batting through the innings.
Oliver has been on Worcestershire's radar for a while now, having played a second XI game
last year, and the decision to look at him in the first-class arena by Worcestershire's Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes may well have been influenced by the Midlands side decision to bring Shropshire's coach Kevin Sharp into the backroom staff at New Road. However, more than anything he has opened up the opportunities himself by letting his bat do the talking.
The youngster is enjoying his cricket at the moment and is not getting carried away. He is keeping his feet firmly on the floor whilst he tries to impress Worcestershire on a match by match basis.
He said: "I still just feel privileged to be here. I just want to stick around for as long as I can. You want to put yourself in a position where they can't not sign you - 14 June is deadline day for me. Then I'll know whether they'll hire me or fire me."
If Worcestershire decide to not offer him a contract then another county could be suitably impressed to step in. He has certainly made a good first impression.
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