HARD-hitting batsman Richard Oliver has been rewarded with a Worcestershire contract until the end of the 2015 season following his impressive displays in the opening matches of the NatWest T20 Blast.

Shropshire captain Oliver has been on trial with the County during the last month and admits he feels “privileged” to have been given an opportunity at New Road.

Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes said: “Richard has been making a convincing case to be given a contract and showing what a good player he is.

“He has made sizeable contributions so far and I think he and Moeen Ali enjoy batting with each other.

“What has impressed me, is that he hasn’t looked out of place and he has got a good cricketing brain. I’ve been really pleased with the way he has played.

“He has come from Shropshire, he has played league cricket where he has got a couple of double-hundreds and not many people do that. We gave him the opportunity to impress in the Second XI and he got two hundreds in two days and then had another for Shropshire.

“His scoring had been heavy and he deserved an opportunity. We had the basis of 10 good players in the T20, so we could afford to play him in that XI.

“We had plenty of batsmen and bowlers and it enabled us to give him a go at the top of the order.

“What he does do is hit the ball in some funny areas. He’s got a very good eye, he times the ball and can hit the ball some distance. He has seen this as a fantastic opportunity to impress and, at the end of the day, what he wanted was a contract.”

Oliver is determined to make the most of his opportunity with the County.

He said: “Worcester got an injury, I came in for the week in the second XI and got a couple of scores and it was a case of ‘we’ll ask him back again'.

“I got another couple of scores and again it was ‘we’ll ask him back again’ and then it was ‘six weeks later, we’ll give you a yes or a no'.

“That’s all you can do. I could have gone duck-duck-duck and they might have said ‘don’t bother coming back’ after two weeks, who knows. That’s the way it went and I’m ecstatic to be here."