Shropshire skipper Oliver handed contract by Worcestershire

Shropshire captain Richard Oliver has been rewarded with a contract at Worcestershire until the end of next season after an impressive trial at New Road.

The prolific batsman has scored heavily for Worcestershire since linking up with them six weeks ago and has opened for the Pears in all of their matches in the NatWest T20 Blast.

His bright performances convinced Worcestershire he deserved to become the latest Shropshire player to be handed a chance to forge a career in first class cricket following on from Jack Shantry and Joe Leach.

Shropshire officials are delighted for Oliver in that his perseverance in wishing to become a professional cricketer has paid off at the age of 24.

The former Shifnal and Whitchurch man, who took over the county captaincy at the start of last season, is a popular figure in the Shropshire dressing room and has scored freely since breaking into the side.

Oliver is currently captaining Shropshire in the opening three-day Unicorns Championship match of the season against Wales which started at Pontarddulais on Sunday, but it is not clear at this stage whether it will be his farewell appearance.

Brian Foxall, Shropshire's chairman of selectors, said: "As a club, we are absolutely delighted for Richard and clearly this will give hope to many cricketers that if you score enough runs and take your opportunity when it comes along that there's always a chance of playing at the highest level.

"As far as the impact on Shropshire, it's not entirely clear at the moment, but it looks unlikely we will see much of him in Shropshire colours for the rest of the season."

Oliver stressed he had never given up hope of breaking into the first class game and said he was excited to have received an opportunity to play for Worcestershire.

He added: "I used to come down to New Road as a kid and watch a few games. As a kid, you go around and watch professional cricket and you just aspire to want to do that every day of the week.

“You never give up hope. You see a lot of the guys coming into the game peaking in their late 20s, early 30s these days.

“It might be a case of closing the door on yourself more than anything because I don’t think any counties close the door on any players.

“As long as you’ve got the belief in yourself to keep going it doesn’t matter if you are 22, 24, 30 whatever.

“At the end of the day if you’ve got the hunger to do it and work on your game hard enough, there is no reason why you won’t be given a chance as long as you are bashing the door down in league cricket and Minor Counties.”

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said Oliver had made a convincing case to be handed a contract having quickly shown what a good player he is.  

“He has made sizeable contributions so far and I think he and Moeen Ali enjoy batting with each other," he said.

“What has impressed me is that he hasn’t looked out of place and he has got a good cricketing brain. I’ve been really pleased with the way he has played.

“He has come from Shropshire, he has played league cricket where he has got a couple of double hundreds and not many people do that. We gave him the opportunity to impress in the Second XI and he got two hundreds in two days and then had another for Shropshire."

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