GIVEN his recent form with the bat, it would be a surprise if Richard Oliver is not offered a contract by Worcestershire.
The 24-year-old has been one of the finds of the season so far for the New Road side, certainly in the Twenty20 arena, and has until June 14 to prove his worth.
He did his cause no harm at all with a match-winning 77 in last Friday’s five-wicket NatWest T20 Blast victory against holders Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
But for an attempt at glory in the final over, Oliver would have carried his bat for the entirety of the Rapids’ innings.
Prior to that, the left-hander also managed impressive knocks of 43 against Durham Jets and 34 against Lancashire Lightning despite Steve Rhodes’ side going on to lose on both occasions.
Plucked from the relative obscurity of Shropshire in the Minor Counties Championship, Oliver has wasted little time in making his mark in the quick-fire format of the game at the higher level.
Although he has barely registered in the Worcestershire second XI – his top score is four in four innings – Oliver seems to be a natural in the first team.
He could turn out to be a home-grown Twenty20 specialist – New Zealander Colin Munro is the overseas player for that competition – even though he was the 12th man in the LV= County Championship Division Two match at Surrey this week.
With Worcestershire not flush with cash, developing and nurturing talent has been at the forefront of the County’s prudent thinking in recent times, and has proved fruitful with the progress of Charlie Morris, as well as Ben Cox and Joe Leach.
Many of the players currently flying the flag for Worcestershire have honed their skills over a long period of time at New Road – captain Daryl Mitchell, Moeen Ali and Jack Shantry to name three.
Oliver seems to be the latest to fit that bill.