Graeme Welch has, as expected, been appointed as the new Elite Cricket Performance Director at Derbyshire. The position was created when the county revamped their coaching structure and asked the incumbent head coach Karl Krikken to re-apply for his job - something he declined to do. 41 year-old Welch has signed a three-year contract and returns to a club where he enjoyed so much success as a player.
However, a knock-on effect of Welch’s move from the position of assistant and bowling coach at Warwickshire is the hammer blow that they have delivered to Midlands rivals Worcestershire by tempting Alan Richardson out of the last year of his playing contract at New Road and into the role of bowling coach at Edgbaston.
Richardson, along with Moeen Ali, had been the standout player for the Pears over the past few seasons and his loss will be so keenly felt as to have all-but ended any of their LV= County Championship promotion hopes before the season has even begun.
Richardson, who retires from professional cricket at the age of 38, made Worcestershire his fourth first-class county - after Derbyshire, Warwickshire and Middlesex - in 2010 and has been prolific for them in the County Championship, taking 254 first-class wickets at the remarkable average of 22.07. In 2012, he was named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Year for his 2011 haul of 73 wickets. Last season, he picked up 69 wickets at an average of 19.82.
Worcestershire Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes said “With a year left on Alan’s contract it is hugely disappointing to lose a player who has performed so well for Worcestershire over the last four seasons taking over 250 four-day wickets. It will be our intention to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible but this will also now present opportunities for our developing squad of bowlers to make their mark and step up during 2014 and beyond.
“We understand that there is a long life outside of playing the game and at 38 Alan’s playing career could not go on forever and for him to have the opportunity to continue a career in cricket in a coaching capacity is something that doesn’t come along that often”.
Richardson commented “I have thoroughly enjoyed my playing career and particularly the last four years at New Road which have been very special for me. I am grateful to Worcestershire for releasing me from the final year of my contract in order to take on this new challenge as part of the next chapter in my life”.
A possible target for Worcestershire as they seek an experienced name to lead their bowling attack is former Middlesex and West Indies seamer Corey Collymore. Other possible candidates include released Kent seamer Charlie Shreck, former Durham seamer Calum Thorp or even ex Gloucestershire and Somerset seamer Gemaal Hussain.
While one county bowling stalwart - Richardson - makes his first move into coaching, another - Welch - has taken another step on a coaching ladder that could culminate in him one day becoming bowling coach, or even head coach, of England.
Welch has attracted a reputation whilst at Edgbaston of being one of the best bowling coaches in the country and is widely credited with helping create the bowling attack that helped the Bears lift the 2012 LV= County Championship title. Such is the high regard with which he is held that there were grumbles from some supporters when he was overlooked in favour of Dougie Brown as Ashley Giles’ successor for the top job at the club at the beginning of last season.
Welch said of his move to Derby: “My experiences with Essex and Warwickshire have been a fantastic grounding, allowing me to learn my trade as a coach. I’m thankful for those opportunities which have fuelled my ambition to work at the top of the coaching tree. The opportunity to do that back at Derbyshire, where I had my best years as a player, is perfect for me. The new Elite Cricket Performance structure shows the club’s ambition and I completely buy into their vision and share the desire for success.”
Chairman Chris Grant added: “It’s great news for Derbyshire that we’ve been able to attract one of the best up and coming coaches around as we strive towards our ambition for sustainable success on the field. The pedigree of what he has already achieved in county cricket is there for all to see and he thoroughly deserves this appointment.”
© Cricket World 2014