Friday, October 21st, 2022


Kevin Sharp says it has been “special” to be part of the Worcestershire “family” for the past nine years after retiring as Head of Coach and Player Development.

Sharp initially came to Worcestershire part-time in January 2014, became Seconds-Batting Coach, then took over as Head Coach and was at the helm when the Rapids won the 2018 Vitality Blast.

He moved into his new role a couple of months after that memorable triumph at Edgbaston, and although he is now stepping down from a full-time post at New Road, he will still be available to aid with Academy coaching when required.

Sharp said: “I sit here, I look around me, I look at that Cathedral and the ground and think ‘how lucky have I been to spend the last nine years here of my life working at this cricket club.’

“I’ve loved the bulk of my time at New Road. I came here, in 2014, after a difficult separation at Yorkshire, and to be given an opportunity in such a wonderful place, a cricket ground that everyone loves to visit and stay here, it felt like I was joining a family.

“That is something I’ve always treasured, and we live here now on the edge of Worcester. I absolutely love it, so hopefully, over the next few years, I won’t just be able to say ‘hello’ to the lads but maybe sit in the D’Oliveira Stand and shout and bawl and applaud with the rest of the crowd!

“I’ve got to a stage now where I’ve achieved what I wanted to achieve in the game. I’m 64 next birthday, travel has opened up a bit after COVID, and I’ve got some desire to travel around the world with my wife.

“We like walking and want to get some obscure places over the next few years while we are fit enough to do that.

“But at the same time, I don’t want to fully walk away from cricket because it is something I wouldn’t be able to do.

“The options are going to be there for me to be able to do some part-time coaching, and I’d still like to do some work with the Academy lads during the winter.

“I’ll speak to the club, and we will sort out a schedule which allows me to have a summer holiday too! I haven’t had many of those since I left school.

“One of the things I adore most about my coaching is the ‘cradle to the grave’ thing, that young player at 12-13 walking through the door and then going out eventually and playing first-class cricket.

“It is a very fulfilling part of the job, and the role I’ve been in allows me to work at all levels, whether it is a 12-year-old or one of the pros.

“That is something, probably actual coaching and batting coaching, is the thing I feel where I’m really at my best and building that trust with individuals that allows them to play to their full potential.”

The initial chance to join Worcestershire came in sad circumstances, with Seconds Coach-Academy Director Damian D’Oliveira being ill and ultimately passing away in 2014.

Sharp said: “I’ve had a career in cricket that has lasted since I was 16. I came in as a professional with Yorkshire in 1976 as a 16-year-old and made my first-class debut that year.

“I’ve been very fortunate to spend my whole life in professional cricket as a player and a coach. I left Yorkshire in 2011 and found myself doing other work outside the professional game for a couple of years, but I did miss working with the best players.

“Steve Rhodes asked me if I would be interested in coming to do some work at Worcestershire, working with the pros. It was on the back of some difficult circumstances in that Damian wasn’t very well, and I initially did a couple of days a week.

“Then, unfortunately, Damian had to go off work full-time, and I was asked to take on a six-month contract, and during that time, he sadly passed away, and I was offered a full-time job which I accepted as Batting Coach-Second Eleven Coach.

“I had the chance to opportunity to work with some fine players and build some fantastic trusting relationships with people, and it’s something I’ve always valued right through my coaching career.

“I’m probably a coach who had a foot in the coaches’ camp and the players’ camp as well, and I just reassure the lads I’ve been able to work with and hopefully played a small part in some of their development.”

“It was just a brilliant year. I fully expected the club would search far and wide and perhaps bring in a big name as Head Coach and maybe a lot of first-class experience at the highest level.

“The club asked me to do the job, and I was absolutely honoured to be able to do that. I was delighted to be asked, and we had a great year.

“I just said to the lads ‘it’s been a challenging time; let’s just support each other, let’s have some fun, let’s play the best cricket we can.’

“The one-day stuff went really well. We had a settled team. The balance was right, and we didn’t have many injuries that year. Moeen came in and captained the side brilliantly. I had a great relationship with him, and he just took the bull by the horns and ran the ship out there.

“The quarter-final victory here against Gloucestershire was a pressure cooker affair, and we all felt that because Worcestershire had never been a finals day before.

“There was an atmosphere in the crowd which was a little bit tense, but Callum Ferguson took us over the line, and there was such a sense of relief from everyone in the dressing room and the crowd that we’d got a monkey off our back.”

Sharp recalls a message from Moeen to the Rapids squad, which showed his belief in them to succeed at Edgbaston.

He said: “I remember the day before finals day, we chose not to practice at Edgbaston but here instead and then drove up on Friday night.

“I remember something Moeen said which gave me goosebumps, and it still does to this day. We stood out on the field; 15 players, coaches, and support staff, and Mo said some of the most powerful words I’ve ever heard.

“He just looked at everyone man for man and said, ‘I want everybody to expect to play TWO games tomorrow’, and that was it.

“Everyone dispersed and got on with the warm-ups, and I stood there and just thought ‘he’s actually told us we are going to win it without saying it.’

“I can remember thinking all along ‘this has got our name on it.’ I turned up on Saturday morning at Edgbaston, and already at 9am the atmosphere was building, and the lads were in great spirits.

“They were anticipating the event, they were excited, not overawed by anything, and I remember thinking ‘we are going to win this’, and things went our way.”

Sharp added: “I had a few pressures myself that week because I had left Ben Cox out of the team for a Championship match, and I was losing sleep thinking ‘I hope that doesn’t affect Ben that badly that it affects him on Saturday.’

“I made that decision, and that was for me to live with. Credit to Ben, he wasn’t happy with being left out, as you can understand, but he made a hundred in the Seconds, prepared himself for Saturday, and everything went our way.

“I remember Moeen getting dropped early on against Lancashire and thinking ‘you don’t drop Moeen!’ and then Ben won man of the match twice, and it was special, very special, and it is something I will always treasure.”