Sunday, June 12th, 2016

Sharp Gets Buzz From Elevation Of Seconds Players Into Senior Squad

Sharp Gets Buzz From Elevation Of Seconds Players Into Senior Squad

Worcestershire Second Eleven coach Kevin Sharp admits seeing players progressing into the first team set-up gives him "his biggest buzz."

Sharp, who is also the County's batting coach, has overseen the elevation of Brett D'Oliveira, Joe Clarke and Ed Barnard into the senior set-up during the last 12 months and become regular players at that level.

Others such as Alex Hepburn and Josh Tongue have also had a taste of the big stage.

Now Second Eleven captain George Rhodes has played his first games at that level via his appearances in the Royal London One-Day Cup against Yorkshire at Headingley and Northamptonshire in the NatWest T20 Blast.

Sharp said: "The second eleven is the platform for first team cricket and to see any of these lads going through and performing well is music to my ears.

"It gives me my biggest kick. I enjoy the second team role and the fact you get to work with the academy, coming through into seconds and then lads going from the seconds into the first team.

"When the lads go through and do well, that is the biggest buzz of all."

The likes of Ollie Westbury, Ben Twohig, Zen Malik and Tongue, who made his first team debut against Oxford MCCU in April, are amonst those promising players playing their trade with the Seconds.

Sharp said: "I want these young lads coming through to be pushing these lads who have just gone in (the first team).

"Ours is not the biggest squad in the country and there are opportunities here.

"If you get an injury or two or someone gets rested in the first team,there are slots available there for those who are performing and that is not the case in a lot of counties.

"That should be very motivational for these lads underneath.

"The key thing is to make sure there is always somebody pushing for a first team place although a lot of the lads who have played second team cricket over the past year or two are becoming pretty established first team cricketers now.

Sharp has given his reaction to the double T20 reversal and Second Eleven Championship setback against Durham at Stourbridge.

He said: "We weren't at our best to be honest in either the T20, in which we haven't been all year, and the three-dayer.

"We've challenged well all year in the three-dayers and won two of the three Championship matches but we weren't at our best in this match.

"I think it was probably a good toss to win. The pitch was quite dry and it was pretty flat to start with and took more and more spin as the game went on, probably a little bit too early.

"But Durham bowled well and we didn't bat so well, particularly on the last day.

"We played one or two loose shots which I was a bit disappointed with and the game finished quite early. There is lots of learning to be taken from it.

"We were a little bit lacking in experience in some of the areas. We had one or two leading players in the bowling department, two or three pros, and then a little bit of inexperience below that and it was the same in the batting department.

"We lost George Rhodes and Alex Hepburn to the first team squad and we were proably a batter or so light but it gave opportunities to others so that is the way you have to look at it.

"It is not something to be overly concerned about, having a poor game, because that is all about learning and I'm really overall delighted with the development of some of these players."