Richard Oliver is looking forward to resuming his Shropshire career today at a ground where he achieved one of his best memories for the county.
The opening batsman makes his Shropshire return in the Unicorns Trophy tie against Herefordshire at Shrewsbury’s London Road ground (11am) as Shropshire begin their eagerly awaited season.
The first group game in the competition two years ago – at the same venue – saw Oliver crack a brilliant 148 from just 82 balls as he helped Shropshire, for whom current England Lions star Joe Clarke added an unbeaten 78, beat Lincolnshire by four wickets.
Oliver, pictured, said: “It’s certainly a good memory, a nice memory to be going back to Shrewsbury with. I’ve obviously played a lot of cricket there over the years and it’s always a good place to play.
“There’s usually a good following from the Shropshire faithful and hopefully that can continue, that we can get a big crowd in and we can entertain them.”
Oliver, who has spent the last two seasons with Worcestershire, is excited to be playing for Shropshire again – he first represented the county at under-12 level – and he’s impressed with the quality of the players in the side as the county target a successful campaign.
Former Derbyshire spinner David Wainwright and ex-Leicestershire seamer Alex Wyatt, two men with plenty of experience of first-class cricket, will both make their debuts today while he’s well aware of the crop of local talent coming through.
Ollie Westbury, a highly rated Worcestershire Academy batsman who signed for Birmingham League champions Shrewsbury during the winter, features in the county squad for the first time at his new home ground.
Oliver stressed he’s looking forward to playing under new captain Steve Leach and Karl Krikken, Shropshire’s much respected Director of Cricket.
“He’s going to be key to our success this season because of the quality of guy he is,” said Oliver, of former Derbyshire coach Krikken. “Full credit to him, Steve Leach and the committee for bringing a squad together of not just good players but also good people.
“That makes it much easier for people to feed off each other when we’re all in it together, so it’s going to be a pleasure to play this year and hopefully we can produce something.”
Herefordshire have a new captain, just like Shropshire, with former Worcestershire batsman Matthew Pardoe now leading them.
Shropshire’s other group games in this season’s Unicorns Trophy will be against Wales, Cheshire and Staffordshire.
Shropshire (v Herefordshire), from: Steve Leach (captain, Shifnal), Omar Ali (C&R Hawks), Ross Aucott (Worfield), Henry Blofield (Shrewsbury), Robbie Clarke (Oswestry), Will Cook (Worfield), Ryan Lockley (Bridgnorth), Richard Oliver (Reigate Priory), Anthony Parker (Broseley), David Wainwright (Castleford), Ollie Westbury (Shrewsbury), Alex Wyatt (Ticknall).