Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Sharp: Staying Up Will Depend On Own Performances And Not Other Results

Head Coach Kevin Sharp wants Worcestershire to make sure of retaining their Specsavers County Championship Division One status through the quality of their own performances rather than relying on other results.

The County return to four-day action tomorrow (Wednesday) after the joy of securing a first Vitality Blast finals day spot when they take on Lancashire at Southport.

Worcestershire are back in the mix to stay up after a thumping innings and 186 run success over Yorkshire at Scarborough.

They moved off the bottom after Lancashire were edged out by just six runs against leaders Surrey – a game in which the Worcestershire players and coaches showed a keen interest when travelling back down the M1 from Yorkshire.

But Sharp knows that ultimately whether they stay up or not will depend on how they perform in the final five games – away to Lancashire and Essex and at home to Hampshire, Surrey and Yorkshire.

He said: “As the Championship season has gone on, we’ve got a bit stronger. We beat Lancashire, had a well earned draw against Nottinghamshire and, although Somerset were that bit better than us, we weren’t outplayed and there were some resilient efforts.

“To then go up to Scarborough and blow them away like we did, sets in a really good place for what is coming this next five weeks.

“We were watching the Surrey-Lancashire game on the TV on the way down from Scarborough and it was probably quite a good result for us in relation to the table.

“No-one was unhappy about that result. But at the end of the day you don’t want to rely on other results.

“The key is to do your own job and perform and, if you get a little bit of extra help from the other results, that is very welcome.

“You look at that table now and anyone of six could be relegated and for us, with five games to go, and with the group of lads we’ve got now, I think we can do well this next few weeks.”

Sharp thrives on the sort of challenges that the game with Lancashire and remaining fixtures will provide.

He said: “This is why you play the game. I’ve been around a bit now and am probably enjoying myself now as much as I ever have done.

“It is always nicer when you win and do well but there is going to be some great, interesting days to come and it is going to be hard fought.

“It wouldn’t surprise me, the way things are, if it went down to playing Yorkshire at home in the final game of the season to decide things.”

Sharp was delighted with the performances against his former County as Worcestershire enjoyed their biggest ever win against the Tykes.

He said: “I was looking forward to going back to Scarborough. I’ve spent many happy hours there in a Yorkshire shirt.

“I left the club six years ago under difficult circumstances and it was a real pleasure for me personally to go back now, in the position I’m in, with the side we have, playing such good cricket. For us to perform the way we did, was a pleasure to see.

“I know there were some outstanding individual performances but man for man as a group, they all played their part in demolishing the opposition and I’m a very proud man.

“The pitch was a bit different to what Scarborough normally would be. It normally goes through a bit quicker with carry and bounce and it was a little bit tacky really.

“It had more of a tennis ball sort of bounce. It did a bit as well and we bowled really well to bowl them out in the first innings for just over 200.

“To see the opening partnership we had with Daryl (Mitchell) and Tom (Fell) was a fantastic start and then Moeen came in and played with great patience, discipline and skill.

“That partnership with Daryl (294) was phenomenal to watch. It was incredible really on a pitch that was offering a bit for the seamers and spinners that we only lost one wicket on that day (the second day). It was fantastic to see.

“For all of us to watch that partnership with Daryl, it was wonderful cricket.”

In addition to Moeen’s eight wickets, paceman Dillon Pennington a big impression with six wickets and he earned praise from Yorkshire’s star batsman, Kane Williamson.

Sharp said: “I think that was probably the difference between the two attacks. Our lads just hit the pitch that bit harder and probably got a bit more response from the surface.

“That attack was a handful for anyone, the variation of Dillon with his height and pace and bounce, similar with Tonguey, Wayne Parnell as a left armer and then Barny.

“Wonderfully balanced bowling attack and two young men there in the early parts of their career causing Kane Williamson some distress was great to see.

“There was a spell in the second innings when Dillon bowled to Kane Williamson and you just thought he was going to get him out. He never quite did that but, for us and our bowling coach (Alan Richardson) it was music to the ears.”