Monday, November 3rd, 2014

Sharp Believes Oliver “will Be Superb For Worcestershire For Many Years To Come”

Sharp Believes Oliver “will Be Superb For Worcestershire For Many Years To Come”

Kevin Sharp is convinced Richard Oliver "will be superb for Worcestershire for many years to come" – after he seized with both hands the opportunity presented to him by a broken thumb!

Sharp, the county's batting coach and second eleven coach, had first hand knowledge from his spell as Shropshire coach of the potential of Oliver who skippered the Minor Counties side.

But it was a broken thumb suffered by Worcestershire spinner Shaaiq Choudhry, when playing club cricket during the early part of the season, which presented an opening for Oliver in the county second eleven.

The 24-year-old was dropped before he had scored against Derbyshire but made the most of his good fortune with back to back hundreds against them in one-day and three-day matches.

It earned Oliver a six week trial at New Road…..and the rest is history.

The opener broke into the NatWest T20 Blast side, secured a contract until the end of the 2015 season, and also earned a spot in the LV County Championship side for the final seven games and an average of nearly 40.

Sharp said: "It is a fabulous story. It is a bit of a fairytale kind of story because in today's day and age everyone comes through Academys.

"You very rarely get someone coming in out of the league or Minor Counties and dominating the way he did and bursting onto the scene and being successful.

"I got to know Richard very well last year as captain of Shropshire and he produced some magnificent innings and I thought 'this lad can play.'

"I actually spoke to Dolly (late Academy Director Damian D'Oliveira) and said can you give this lad a game, and he did at the end of last summer(2013).

"He didn't make many runs but, with things developing as they had during the winter and into the season, I had a mind to give the lad a chance as a triallist in the second eleven, a game or two.

"That opportunity came when Shaaiq broke a thumb in May. We picked Richard for Derbyshire away, a one-dayer at Alveston and a three-dayer at Derby.

"In his first innings, he got dropped at backward point, a quite straightforward catch, on nought. He was dropped off a caught and bowled before he got 10 – and he made a hundred. He played some lovely shots and played a nice innings.

"The next morning we went to the County Ground at Derby to play the three-dayer and there was just a little bit in the wicket and we finished up batting first and we lost wickets. We were bowled out for 160 and Richard made 107 and played a superb innings."

Sharp added: "I can remember speaking to Steve Rhodes (Director of Cricket) and, with the Twenty20 coming up and only two men outside the inner circle for the first six overs, I said to Steve this lad could be dangerous and could win us a game.

"After that we invited on a short term basis, Steve got Richard along to some of the Twenty20 practices and I think he had a couple of good nets and finished up playing every game.

"He got a couple of 40s and then here against Northants in front of a big crowd, he got 70 odd and played a magnificent innings and blew everyone away really – so it was right that we had better do something or someone else would.

"It has been a rollercoaster for him, he's played some lovely innings, had periods where he hasn't scored runs but he is finding his feet, finding his way.

"But I am convinced we have found someone who will be superb for Worcestershire cricket for many years to come and he is still only 24."