Riki Wessels spent eight years at Trent Bridge, starting in 287 matches and amassing over 11,000 runs. He excelled in all formats, helping Nottinghamshire to two one-day trophies in 2017 and producing some record-breaking performances in white ball cricket.
Mattheus Hendrik ‘Riki’ Wessels is the son of Kepler Wessels, the former Test batsman who appeared for both Australia and South Africa. Riki was born on 12 November 1985 in Queensland, Australia and grew up in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Coming to England as a Kolpak player in 2004, he joined Northamptonshire where his father was the coach. He made his mark as a top order batsman and occasional wicketkeeper, but after playing over 100 matches for Northamptonshire was released when ECB regulations were tightened on Kolpak players.
After 2 seasons with Mid West Rhinos in Zimbabwe, Riki Wessels returned to English cricket in April 2011, signing for Nottinghamshire on an Entrepreneur Visa. From the outset, Wessels played regularly in both red and white ball cricket. In First-Class cricket, he twice scored 1,000 runs in a season. 2014 was the highpoint when he notched 1,213 runs in 17 starts, was awarded his County Cap, and named as the Club’s Player of the Year. In his eight seasons with Nottinghamshire, Wessels scored 6,024 runs in 108 First-Class matches. This included 11 centuries and a top score of 202no against Sussex at Trent Bridge in April 2017.
Many of Wessels’ most memorable performances were in white ball cricket, where he frequently formed part of an explosive top order with Michael Lumb and Alex Hales. In the Royal London One-Day Cup match against Northamptonshire at Trent Bridge in June 2016, he smashed 146 from 97 balls and combined with Michael Lumb to put on 342 for the first wicket, so setting a new record for the highest List-A partnership for any wicket in a match in England. In a 79 match Notts List A career, Wessels made 2,368 runs, scored three centuries and 14 fifties and in 2017 was a member of the Notts Outlaws team that took the Royal London One-Day Cup in the Final at Lord’s.
Wessels completed the double of white ball trophies in 2017 as a member of the NatWest T20 Blast winning side, occasionally donning the ‘keeper’s gloves. He scored heavily throughout the competition that year, totalling 559 runs in 16 sixteen matches. In July 2017, he became the first Nottinghamshire batsman to reach three figures in a T20 innings when he struck 110 against Derbyshire at Trent Bridge. Opening against Durham a month later, he combined with Alex Hales to score 126 from just 7.1 overs in a remarkable display of hitting. He was also a vital member of Notts’ fielding unit in T20 cricket, taking some key catches and saving many runs as a boundary fieldsman.
A total of 2,827 runs in his 100 T20 matches for Notts, plus the runs made in this format for his other counties, leave him high in the list of all-time T20 run scorers in England. Wessels’ form in T20 has also seen in play in franchise tournaments in Bangladesh, Pakistan and Australia, where he spent a season with Sydney Sixers.
By his own high standards, 2018 was one of his least prolific years with Nottinghamshire and he moved on at the end of season. He signed a three-year deal with Worcestershire; in his first season at New Road he again scored heavily in T20 and helped the Rapids to a berth in the final at Edgbaston.