Monday, March 20th, 2017

County Coach Sharp’s Long Time Affinity With Worcs And New Road

County Coach Sharp’s Long Time Affinity With Worcs And New Road

Batting coach-Second Eleven coach Kevin Sharp has revealed he almost joined Worcestershire during his playing days.

Sharp's cricket equipment was sponsored by the then Worcestershire chairman Duncan Fearnley.

He had lost his place in the Yorkshire first team despite being recently capped and Fearnley asked him to move to New Road.

Former England Under-19 captain Sharp agreed in principle and told Yorkshire coach Ray Illingworth of his decision.

But within two weeks he was back in the Tykes first team and never looked back.

Sharp said: "I was about 23. I had been capped by Yorkshire recently but I wasn't in the first team. I was playing second eleven cricket and was a bit frustrated by it.

"I was making quite a lot of runs in second eleven cricket and was frustrated by not being in the first eleven.

"I came to Worcester for a second team game and immediately bumped into Duncan and he said 'what's going on' and I said 'I can't get in at Yorkshire' – and Duncan said 'come and play here.'

"I said 'right'. I was under contract but you didn't have agents, you dealt with your own issues and I went the next day to see Ray Illingworth, who was coach at Yorkshire, and said 'I'd like you to release me from my contract, I'm going to play for Worcestershire.'

"He said 'you need to think about it' and I said 'I already have done.'

"But within a couple of weeks, I was playing first team cricket again and not long after that made a hundred against Surrey at Scarborough and played first team cricket for a long time.

"The move didn't materialise but it was definitely an option."

Sharp's affinity and affection for Worcestershire and New Road stretches back a long way.

He explained: "Duncan's brother, Mike Fearnley, was at the time assistant coach to Doug Padgett at Yorkshire and Mike asked me to come and play some league cricket as a 15-year-old for Bingley in the Bradford League and at the same time he introduced me to Duncan.

"I needed some kit and he brought me to Worcester and I met Duncan as a 15-year-old and I used Duncan's kit-bats all through my career as a sponsor.

"I made many journeys to Worcester over the years, coming down in the early morning pre-season to watch him make your bats, setting off from Yorkshire at five in the morning and getting down to Worcester at 8.30 and Duncan was busily on his plane getting your bats ready.

"A lot of happy memories about coming here. I made my top score ever at New Road with the England Under-19s (260 not out v West Indies Under-19s).

"There has kind of been an affinity with Worcestershire.

"Even away from cricket my wife Jeanette, who I met when I worked in Shropshire, was actually born in Redditch and was born at Bromsgrove Hospital so she is from Worcestershire.

"When I left Yorkshire (as a coach), I made a list of the coaches I knew best and thought if I had the opportunity to go somewhere else 'where would I choose'. I made a list of 10 coaches I knew particularly well in the first class game and I wrote to all of them and I had as my first choice, the first guy I wrote to was Steve Rhodes.

"I had known Bumpy since we were kids on the Yorkshire Academy. I was a bit older than him, he was on the Academy when I broke into first team cricket, but we knew each other pretty well.

"Bumpy was the first one who replied. At the time it was 'thanks for this but there is no opportunity at the moment' and two years later I got a call from him and said 'would you be interested' and the rest is history."