Johnson and Poynton in friendly rivalry for wicketkeeper's job in Derbyshire's cricket team
RICHARD Johnson is unique. Nobody has ever won two LV County Championship winners' medals in the same season before.
They take pride of place, side by side, in the Johnson home – a Division One winners' medal with Warwickshire and a Division Two winners' medal with Derbyshire.
Johnson, the Birmingham boy who had been with the Bears through the age groups, played three Championship matches for Warwickshire last year and played two more with Derbyshire on loan.
That earned him his double taste of glory but the 24-year-old took the bold decision at the end of the last campaign to leave Edgbaston, where he came to realise he was never going to be regarded as anything other than the back-up wicketkeeper, in favour of a fresh start at the County Ground.
With every new aerial installed by AMC aerials I will fit an extra point in your bedroom or kitchen for an extra £10
New aerials fitted from £70
Call Adrian on 01332 418856
Terms: Must be an aerial supplied and fitted by AMC aerials
Contact: 01332 418856
Valid until: Friday, July 12 2013
"It was tough at Warwickshire, behind Tim Ambrose," said Johnson. "It was one game here and two games there, so it was so hard to get any consistency and that's how the move came about.
"I'm at the age now where I need to be playing cricket and I know this is the right move for me and my career. Everyone at Warwickshire understands that as well.
"I've been playing for Warwickshire since under-11s, so initially it was a tough decision but you have to put your career ahead of that and, in the end, it was an easy decision."
However, Johnson accepts there are no guarantees of regular first-team cricket with Derbyshire, where he will compete for the gloves with Tom Poynton, who progressed well last season and also became better with the bat as the season wore on.
But theirs is the friendliest of rivalries and Johnson says that will help both of them improve as players.
"I knew Tom before I came to Derbyshire, we've always been good friends and that friendship has blossomed over the winter," he added.
"Wherever you go as a wicketkeeper, there's always going to be competition because you can only play one wicketkeeper, we both understand that. Whoever starts the season, we will be happy for one another.
"We've been working together, we talk about the game and we hang out together away from the game.
"That kicks you on because there is no resting on your laurels. You are always pushing each other and that's why this winter has been good. If I see something with him or vice versa, we bounce things off each other and that's made it a strong relationship.
"We can both bat and we can both keep, I think we have shown that in Barbados. It would be great if we could both play."
The choice between the two wicketkeepers for the Championship opener on April 10 will be a tough one for head coach Karl Krikken, with Johnson showing his abilities and fitting smoothly into the fabric of a tight-knit group of players to make it a successful trip to Barbados for him.
"Honestly, I'm absolutely loving it. It could not have gone much better," he said.
"I've been with the lads now for quite a while over the winter and I feel like I've settled in but I definitely feel like we have gelled even more this tour.
"As soon as I came in last year, the atmosphere around the club stood out for me. There are no individual groups in the changing room and I have honestly, at Warwickshire and in club cricket, never been in a changing room quite like this.
"It's unbelievable how strong it is and everybody genuinely wants everybody else to do well. There are no egos. I've never experienced anything like it.
"We all know it will be a new challenge in Division One and nobody outside the club expects us to do well but that works in our favour. We can just go out and enjoy our cricket.
"I'm sure there will be tough days because there's always tough days and Division One is difficult but I know we will have a lot of good days as well. I think people will be surprised."