Richardson and the Dad’s Army heroes: Richard Gibson

Alan Richardson, the unlikely leading wicket-taker in the top tier of the 2011 County Championship, reckons it is no coincidence that the country’s most successful seamers resembled something of a Dad’s Army this year.

Richardson claimed a personal-best 73 scalps in Division One from a whopping 663.1 overs, and like his fellow 36-year-old Andre Adams, six wickets further back in third, was ever-present. Lancashire captain Glen Chapple, one year their senior, was restricted to a dozen games due to injuries but still finished seventh with 55.

“Experience definitely helps,” says Richardson, who recently signed a new 12-month contract at New Road. “Personally I have become a better bowler, a more consistent bowler, and if you speak to those guys they will probably say the same. I am sure Andre and Glen aren’t bowling as quick as they were 10-15 years ago but are more consistent and keep asking questions of the batter.

“Now guys are on 12-month contracts, they are looking after themselves better and that means they’re probably going to play a bit longer. For me, to play all 16 games for the first time in my career, through not being injured and through selection, has been fantastic.

“I have had four operations throughout my career and when I made the decision to carry on last year – I turned down a couple of opportunities to coach because I felt I’d be a long time retired – I really wanted to make sure it was worth my while. The medical team kept me on the park with a bit of Sellotape and glue at times but I was determined to give it a good go.”

He has been swimming in recent weeks to keep ticking over but downtime concludes in a fortnight – Worcestershire’s winter regime begins on Halloween.

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The England and Wales Cricket Board’s cricket committee will discuss whether to replicate the two new balls used in one-day internationals for next year’s Clydesdale Bank 40 competition at a meeting on November 7.

It is up to individual boards whether or not they over-ride MCC’s laws of the game with specific playing regulations such as the ones introduced by the International Cricket Council from October 1. So any proposal from the cricket committee would simply have to be ratified by the full ECB board a fortnight later.

The ECB will also debate the use of runners for batsmen after the ICC abolished them at the highest level. MCC believes ICC have addressed the lesser of two evils in this instance, having failed to take stiffer action against those abusing the banning of substitutes for comfort breaks.

As MCC make clear ‘we seldom see only 10 men in the field’ and they claim to receive more complaints about substitutes than runners.

The amendments affect international cricket only, so club matches will still permit runners in a bid to maintain the spirit of equity within the game’s laws.

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Cricket Australia’s appointment of ex-Wallaby rugby international Pat Howard as general manager of team performance inevitably raised questions about his knowledge of the sport.

A self-confessed ‘terrible leg-spinner’ at school, his experience of top-level cricket amounts to little beyond a stint as Leicestershire’s 12th man during the late 1990s, when he was with Leicester Tigers rugby union club.

Howard befriended a number of Leicestershire players – Michael Kasprowicz was one of the overseas signings – and was hauled out of the crowd to field by a posse including Paul Nixon during a county match when injuries struck.

“He certainly played in most of the testimonial and benefit matches we had at that time,” recalls Leicestershire head coach Phil Whitticase. “And he was very close mates with a number of our players.”

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