Courtesy costs nothing. Unfortunately, some people forget that, or never understood it in the first place. But it's lovely when, for those to whom courtesy is second nature, it bears fruit.
When Warwickshire signed Olly Hannon-Dalby from Yorkshire in 2013, it was not because he is a polite chap, but because he was a good seam-bowler with the potential to get better.
But when a club considers signing a player, personality as well as playing prowess, is taking into account – and, in that regard, ‘OHD’ had already left a positive impression on Bears bowling coach Pop Welch.
On pre-season tours to Barbados, the Warwickshire and Yorkshire squads stayed in the same hotel so sometimes bumped into each other.
Olly recalls: “Pop has said to me since, ‘I thought you were a good lad because you always said ‘morning’ when I walked past you in the corridor so I thought you must be an alright lad.’
“It just goes to show, it’s good to be polite!”
Olly’s courtesy had struck a chord with Welch but of much more interest to the bowling coach was the potential of a player whose career had stalled at his native county. Pop took a closer look, the signing was made and it has worked out brilliantly for both parties. OHD has been the stand-out seamer for the Bears in the last two seasons.
“After Jason Gillespie took over as Yorkshire coach, it became clear I wasn’t in his plans,” said Olly. “He signed Liam Plunkett and Jack Brooks and I went way down the pecking order. The club said I wasn’t in their plans and, for a young Yorkshireman having come through the system there, that was pretty hard to take.
“I rung around every first class county coach saying I was available. Warwickshire were in a bit of a transition period, with Ashley Giles having just left, so Dougie Brown said, ‘there’s no coach here to make a decision’ so we’ll have to leave it for a bit. But next day, Pop rang me and asked me down for a trial.Olly Hannon-Dalby
“My cricket wasn’t in a great place. I wasn’t bowling well and needed to think about my action and where I was as a person, but literally after working with Pop for a couple of weeks I was back on track. Then when Dougie was appointed coach, the first thing he did was sign me, so I am really thankful to them both.”
The move could not have worked out better. The Bears quickly took OHD to their hearts while he set about building the sort of career of which he dreamed as a cricket-mad boy. Cricket was always a huge part of Olly’s life.
“Apparently, I went to my first day’s cricket at five days old, down at Copley.” he said. “My dad played at Sowerby Bridge and my earliest memories are of kicking a football around the outfield and learning to ride my bike on the outfield. Being a young lad and running round the field on summer evenings was just brilliant.
“I played for Copley and had some brilliant days playing for the juniors and literally spending every day of the week down there. It’s a really beautiful ground, wedged between two train tracks, one of which is on a huge viaduct. I absolutely loved it.
“Then my chance with Yorkshire came through school. I was the only guy at school who played cricket, everyone else played rugby and football, and I used to get quite a lot of stick from the other lads saying ‘why are you playing that silly game?’
“But it worked in my favour because, as I was the only cricketer in the school, when a letter came through from Yorkshire about trials, I was the only candidate! So I went along to some Under 15s trials. There were three trials to get through and I got through them all and played for the Yorkshire age group.
“It was quite a tough environment. It was drilled into you that there are a lot of cricketers in Yorkshire, with over 1,000 clubs, so you had to work hard. I was lucky enough to come under the guidance of bowling coach Steve Oldham. He was an absolute legend…I wouldn’t have had the career I have had if it wasn’t for S.O looking after me as a youngster.”
With the advantage of sending the ball down from a considerable height, 6ft 8in Hannon-Dalby made his championship debut for Yorkshire against Surrey at The Oval in May, 2008. He secured a pretty illustrious first wicket…but then had to wait almost two years for the next, which came in a five-for against the Bears at Edgbaston.
“I made my debut at The Oval and Mark Ramprakash was trying to get his 100th 100…and he was my first wicket!,” he said. “I had him caught at second slip and the press were very kind to me, but the fact is I bowled terribly in that game. I got Ramprakash out but Mark Butcher got 200 and whacked me all over the ground.Olly Hannon Dalby
“That was 2008 and I didn’t play for the first team again until early 2010.Then I played against Warwickshire at Edgbaston and I managed to get a few wickets and Yorkshire won so it was a good trip.
“Edgbaston was just a building site at the time and I had no idea it was to become so special to me. Now I’ve played much more cricket for Warwickshire than I did for Yorkshire and there is no doubt about it, I consider myself a Bear through and though. Edgbaston and Birmingham have been really kind to me and I love the place.”
And the place loves Olly. Last week he collected four awards from the truncated 2020 season – Rick Coleman Community Award, Bob Willis Trophy Player of the Season, Members’ Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year.
Next year he will lead the seam attack again and, without doubt, there are plenty of wickets to come from the 31-year-old. And then?
Well, he clearly has all the attributes of a very fine coach and has already done plenty of coaching at Edgbaston during the winters with Henry Brookes among those to have fallen under his wing.
“Henry was my case study for my Level Three coaching badge,” recalls OHD. “He was 15 and very raw but you could see the talent there. I can claim absolutely no credit for the great cricketer he has become, of course…that’s all down to Steve Perryman, who taught him a lot, and Pop.
“But I do enjoy coaching. After I joined the Bears, I used to volunteer to help out Paul Greetham and one winter Greeters would want me with the Under 12s, then the next with the Under 18s and I really enjoyed it. I find it very rewarding and if that is something for the future for me, then great.”
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