Thursday, May 12th, 2016

County Coach Sharp Delighted But Unsurprised By Brett’s Success

Worcestershire second team coach-batting coach Kevin Sharp is delighted with but unsurprised by the success being enjoyed in the openers role at first team level by Brett D'Oliveira.

Sharp quickly elevated Brett up the order from number eight in the Second Eleven when he was brought in by his father Damian two years ago to assist after he became ill.

He was then given an opportunity to open at the end of the 2014 campaign and showed his potential with a hundred against Hampshire Seconds at New Road.

D'Oliveira was given his first team chance alongside skipper Daryl Mitchell at the tail-end of last season and made several useful contributions.

But it is this season he has really kicked on with a breakthrough first class ton against Oxford MCCU and then 128 versus Essex and 202 not out against Glamorgan in the Specsavers County Championship.

Sharp said: "When I first came to the club a couple of years ago, when I got given the second team initially, Brett was batting at number eight.

"Very quickly, within a game or two, he played one innings in particular of high class and I thought to myself 'this guy is not a number eight in second team cricket.'

"I just saw some really good hand-eye co-ordination. He is a natural, a gifted sportsman. He can throw, he can catch, he can bowl, he can bat, he can do all those things that are a gift.

"I thought 'I'm not having him batting at number eight, he is far better than that' so within a game or two I had got him up to about number four and then he played some lovely innings, genuine all-rounder stuff.

"Then towards the end of that season, we had a situation where a slot became available upfront and I thought 'why not Dolly.'

"As a batting coach, I always think for people's development, if you can learn to go in first, you can bat anywhere.

"I thought let's give him a go upfront, see how that goes and we will go from there really and he played some lovely innings again and he got a hundred against Hampshire at New Road."

Sharp added: "What we had to work on really was because he was such a gifted stroke-maker, going in first he just needed to be a bit more conservative by leaving the new ball a bit more just to get himself out in really.

"We worked a little bit on the bottom hand grip and his bat swing really, just to make sure the bat was coming through, meeting the full face of the ball, because just occasionally, he kind of played across himself a bit.

"It was just minor technical changes, a bit of a mentality of leaving the ball a bit more, and the rest has taken care of itself to be honest.

"He learnt to do that, he left the ball more, and I know that when he got into the first team towards the end of last season, he was quite frustrated with himself because he made 30s and 40s and he didn't go on and make that big score.

"But as a club we just needed to be patient with that, allow him to get used to playing at the higher level upfront and has gone away this winter.

"He has played cricket abroad. He has learnt to play again in the middle order, he has learnt to bat upfront abroad, so he has been doing both and the club have allowed him to come in at the start of this season and flourish the way he has.

"It is no surprise to me that he is actually doing what he is doing. He just needed to overcome that hurdle of making his first big score which he did at Oxford.

"He would been very keen to make his first Championship hundred, which he did against Essex, and he has gone on again at Glamorgan and it is just wonderful really.

"I'm absolutely made up by it, that he has achieved this, and who knows what is in store. This kid can play cricket."

Sharp is delighted to see Brett follow in the footsteps of grandfather Basil and father Damian.

He said: "Look, it is quite a personal thing for me. I've always known Damian pretty well. We always got on pretty well and I came to the club when he was poorly and he was very supportive of me coming in and doing some work.

"The very fact I've been able to do what I've done with the D'Oliveira family support and help Brett is very special.

"We all know how big the D'Oliveira family is at Worcestershire. It is legendary stuff but at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what your name is, you've still got to score runs and takes wickets and he is doing it.

"It is wonderful that he got a double hundred."