WORCESTERSHIRE have started their search for a new front-line seamer after Alan Richardson’s decision to join Warwickshire as a bowling coach.

The 38-year-old, the club’s stand-out bowler in recent seasons with 250 County Championship wickets during four campaigns, announced his retirement from first-class cricket with immediate effect to replace Graeme Welch at Edgbaston.

Richardson, also voted one of five Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 2012, still had a year left on his contract but has opted to turn his attentions to life after playing and has agreed a release from the club.

Director of cricket Steve Rhodes has started the hunt for a replacement but will also look to the likes of Jack Shantry, Gareth Andrew, Chris Russell, Charlie Morris, Nick Harrison and Graeme Cessford to step up to the plate during the 2014 term.

Rhodes said: “With a year left on Alan’s contract it is hugely disappointing to lose a player who has performed so well for Worcestershire over the last four seasons, taking over 250 four-day wickets.

“It will be our intention to find a suitable replacement as soon as possible but this will also now present opportunities for our developing squad of bowlers to make their mark and step up during 2014 and beyond.

“We understand there is a long life outside of playing the game and, at 38, Alan’s playing career could not go on forever and for him to have the opportunity to continue a career in cricket in a coaching capacity is something that doesn’t come along that often.

“Alan has been a great servant to cricket on the field. We wish him all the best in his new role and he will always be welcome at New Road.”

Richardson said: “I have thoroughly enjoyed my playing career and particularly the last four years at New Road which have been very special for me.

“I am grateful to Worcestershire for releasing me from the final year of my contract in order to take on this new challenge as part of the next chapter in my life.”

Fellow County seamer David Lucas has also retired from first-class cricket after agreeing to a mutual cancellation of the remaining year of his New Road contract.

The 35-year-old left-armer was told first-team opportunities would be minimal in the forthcoming campaign, which effectively brought the curtain down on his 14-year professional career.