Jamal Richards on his Royal London Cup campaign


It does not seem that long ago that Jamie Porter was looking up to the likes of David Masters and Graham Napier for advice on his nascent career; now Porter is mentoring one of the new kids on the block, Jamal Richards.

The 18-year-old all-rounder has had a whirlwind first season on the Essex staff, looking, listening, learning, and ultimately posting an impressive sequence of figures in the Royal London Cup.

Porter, at 29 now a senior member of the bowling attack, has helped his Chingford team-mate make the transition into the First Team environment. The pair sit side-by-side in the changing room.

“I’ve seen the way he’s gone about things and how consistent he’s been,” says the Edmonton (Middlesex)-born Richards. “I just try to grab bits of information from him about seam bowling.

“Everyone in the team has been really helpful, to be honest, but Ports has probably helped me the most. I’ve played a couple of Club games with him as well as first and second-team matches for Essex.”

Richards only left Norlington High School, the alma mater of Graham Gooch in Waltham Forest, at the start of March; within days he found himself not only offered a two-year rookie contract but mixing with his elders on the pre-season tour to Abu Dhabi.

He marked his First Team debut in the opening game of the Royal London Cup earlier this month, coming in at No10 against Derbyshire and showing the precociousness of youth by belting two sixes in a 44-ball 46, his highest score to date.

“It’s not been such a big jump as I’ve played quite a lot of Second XI cricket this year and there are a lot of those players who played in the first team during the Royal London Cup.”

Indeed, Richards was one of several up-and-coming talents who took the opportunities presented to them and made key contributions, notably, Luc Benkenstein (10 wickets in 5 games, including a best of 6/42, as well as a half-century with the bat) and Robin Das (202 runs, including a maiden 50).

Richards was introduced to the joys of the game aged 4 by his Jamaican grandfather Frank. “He bought me my first bat and took me to the cricket club at Walthamstow and gave me throw-downs and stuff. It went from there.”

“When I was younger, I used to watch a lot of Andrew Flintoff,” says Richards. “I quite liked the way he went about things, the way he ran in and bowled quick, and gave it a real strike with the bat. He was really aggressive. I guess I try to be a bit like him, but not everything like him.

“I consider myself a genuine all-rounder. I want to be equal with both bat and ball.”

A player is rated a genuine all-rounder if his batting average is higher than his bowling average. Richards got close in the Royal London Cup: 34.25 with the bat (137 runs) against 37.00 with the white ball in hand (five wickets at a commendable economy rate of 5.78).

There is also a Second XI century on his CV this summer. He is hoping to catch the eye of the England U19 selectors before long and admits: “I’ve had a good experience this year and I’ve learnt a lot.”