Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Batting Coach Sharp Hails Improvements In Playing Spin After Chennai Trip

Batting Coach Sharp Hails Improvements In Playing Spin After Chennai Trip

Batting coach Kevin Sharp believes a crop of Worcestershire senior and academy players reaped the benefits of a nine day trip to Chennai in terms of the significant improvements made playing against spin.

Skipper Daryl Mitchell, Tom Fell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Alexei Kervezee, Brett D'Oliveira and Shaaiq Choudhry plus Academy trio Nick Hammond, Josh Dell and Freddie Wynn were all put through their paces against the turning ball.

Sharp had previously experienced the benefits of such a trip when part of the Yorkshire coaching set-up and is relishing the opportunity to see the Worcestershire players put into practice what they have learnt in match situations.

He said: "The trip has been a great success. Absolutely. It surpassed all expectations really. Only one of the lads – Alexei Kervezee – had been to India before with Holland. He has been a few times with Holland.

"None of the other lads had been to India and having been a couple of times myself with Yorkshire, I know what kind of an invaluable experience it can be from an all-round perspective, cultural and cricket respective.

"I was quite keen for the lads to experience that. We are very grateful to the Supporters' Association and D'Oliveira Foundation and the various bodies who funded the trip and trusted us to make the right decisions.

"There are not many English players had this opportunity in India during the last couple of years. I think the Indian Board have not been overly keen to accept English players having lost the Test series a couple of years ago.

"Those lads who won that Test series for England would all have had considerable experience in Indian conditions and obviously it has to be helpful.

"We wanted to primarily to get better against playing spin. It is not something in England we do as well as playing seam and swing. They are not brought up on it like in Asia.

"We had a five star trip. It was organised by the Global Cricket Academy based in Mumbai through Sachin Bajaj who I know very well and lots of English coaches know very well because he's been putting on these trips for many years now.

"We finished up in a five star hotel in Chennai, the practice facilities were at The Drome Academy which was only 10 minutes from the hotel and we pretty much practiced most of the day with a lunch break.

"The cricket facilities were first class. There were three fantastic pitches to practice on that spun and bounced. It was quite flat for the seamers, no wonder they prefer to bowl spin! We were provided with local lads to come and bowl seam and spin which they did all day long and our lads batted for a long time.

"All of them batted for two and a half hours each every day so we had five full on practice days and we finished with a game on the last day where we split into two groups with four players in each team so we occupied the four places in the batting order and then the local lads filled up the other two teams.

"We played at a fantastic college facility and it was a superb cricket field, pitch, stadium so the whole experience was just five star."

Sharp added: "The lads, the way they improved against playing spin was excellent. One thing I wanted to do was give them access to a local coach so we had a coach called Umesh Patwal who comes from Mumbai who I have worked with before when I was over there with Yorkshire.

"He is a batting coach and came for three days and he gave the Indian philosophy which is sometimes quite spiritual and put across in a different way to what we communicate.

"I wanted the lads to experience that. He would say things and get them to work on things that they wouldn't have seen before. It was brilliant.

"He is quite a forthright person. He shoots from the hip. He doesn't pull back. He challenged the lads enormously and at first that was a little uncomfortable for one or two. But he grew on them as the week developed.

"The whole thing couldn't have been a better experience and the way the lads improved in terms of playing spin was incredible to see.

"They developed their game plans, developed their hitting areas, they learned to use their feet forward and back, they were hitting over the top with confidence, hitting gaps in safe areas through the field, practicing sweeping.

"To see lads beaming and thinking 'I'm getting better at this' that is what it is all about. For nine days, it was solid develoment which you can't buy.

"I can't wait now to see how these lads put it into practice in matches."

Sharp feels the experience will prove invaluable to the academy batting trio of Dell, Wynn and Hammond.

He said: "The three Academy lads, Josh Dell, Freddie Wynn and Nick Hammond who are only at the beginning of their careers… see their development was fantastic.

"Having Daryl (Mitchell) and Alexei (Kervezee) with us, to provide that senior player platform for the other to bounce off, was phenomenal.

"For the three Academy lads, to spend nine days with five or six pros, living, eating and breathing cricket, was priceless."