AS Worcestershire continue their impressive run of form in both the long and short formats, one question springs to mind.
Would they have made such strides this season if Alan Richardson was still at the club?
Before I am pilloried for suggesting such a thing, it is something worth pondering given the change in fortunes from last year.
Richardson will go down in County folklore as one of their finest ever bowlers, the seamer taking no less than 250 Championship wickets during four campaigns.
Without his services it is likely Worcestershire wouldn’t have had a second season in Division One in 2012, born out by Richardson being voted one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year.
When he retired to join the Warwickshire coaching staff in January, it appeared a blow to the New Road side’s hopes of challenging for promotion this time around.
I was among those who expected Steve Rhodes’ side to struggle without their star bowler, but the opposite has happened.
Jack Shantry, Charlie Morris (pictured), Gareth Andrew, Joe Leach and Chris Russell have all stepped out of Richardson’s shadow and come to the fore.
No longer did they have somewhere to hide or an experienced figure to rely on for wickets, even though Andrew’s return to form following injury has been welcome.
It appears to have been the making of them and they have seized their opportunity with their wickets keeping Worcestershire at the business end of Division Two.
Their form, Russell in particular, has also spilled over into the Twenty20 arena, a format Richardson seldom played in and the County struggled in. A coincidence?
While Saeed Ajmal has obviously had a significant impact, the signs of a general bowling improvement were there before he arrived.
Similarly, batsmen have stepped up to the plate now that Moeen Ali is away with England. Moeen scored the bulk of the runs last season but, as with Richardson’s departure, the others have nowhere to hide.
The knowledge that Moeen would likely be increasingly absent seems to have inspired captain Daryl Mitchell, Alexei Kervezee, Tom Fell and Ben Cox. Long may it continue.