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Warwickshire have lost their battle to retain the services of reserve wicket-keeper Richard Johnson. The 24 year-old has signed a three-year contract with newly-promoted Derbyshire, with whom he had a brief loan spell during 2012.
Johnson, who called the opportunity to join Derbyshire "one that I couldn't turn down" joined the Warwickshire staff on a professional contract in 2008, but had played for the county since Under-11 level and was a product of the their Academy system. However, with Tim Ambrose's return to form and fitness following his recently-publicised battle with depression during 2012, Johnson's first-team appearances for the Bears were limited last season mainly to the Friends Life t20 competition. Frustrated, he began a loan-spell with Derbyshire in July and impressed, hitting 79 off 74 balls in a Clydesdale Bank 40 match against Yorkshire.
Johnson played 42 first-team games for Warwickshire during his time on the staff and paid tribute to his old club, saying, “I’m very proud to have progressed through the Warwickshire ranks from a junior to a member of the full squad and I’m leaving the club with many happy memories. I would like to thank my team-mates, coaching staff and everyone at Warwickshire for their support over the years and I wish the club the very best for the future."
Warwickshire Director of Cricket Ashley Giles was equally forthcoming in his praise for Johnson, saying, “It’s sad that we’re losing such a talented home-grown player as Richard, who is very popular with everyone here at Warwickshire. However, we cannot stand in the way of someone’s ambitions to play more first-team cricket, so he leaves with the best wishes of all players and management at Warwickshire and I’m sure that he’ll also enjoy a successful career at Derbyshire.”
Johnson will now compete for a first-team place at Derbyshire with the improving Tom Poynton and the younger Chris Durham, with the club's head coach Karl Krikken opining: “The addition of Richard adds to our batting and wicket-keeping options at a time when intensifying competition for places is very important.”
© Cricket World 2012
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