Friday, April 10th, 2015

Sharp Stresses Importance Of Being “ruthless When We Bat” In Division One

Sharp Stresses Importance Of Being “ruthless When We Bat” In Division One

Worcestershire batting coach Kevin Sharp has stressed the importance of being "ruthless when we bat" as the county prepare for a return to LV = County Championship Division One cricket.

Sharp has been keen to put that message across during the many practice sessions at Malvern College during the winter months.

He is aware how vital it is not to let teams off the hook if you are in a strong position and that even one bad session in the top flight is likely to prove costly in the final analysis of a game.

Sharp, who coached the likes of Joe Root, Gary Ballance and Jonny Bairstow when part of the Yorkshire backroom staff, said: "Part of our plans for the future in relation to four day cricket is to make sure we really do become ruthless when we bat.

"That is about making sure when we are top in a game, and we've got a good partnership going, something silly doesn't happen.

"Of course, people are human beings and people will always make a mistake. But that's life.

"But if we can reduce the softer dismissals, and not let a team back in, that will be very important.

"How many times do you see a situation where a team is dominating a day's play and then suddenly a guy gets out, maybe a bit loose, a bit care-free, then the next bloke goes in and gets out to a decent delivery, then someone else gets out.

"Suddenly you've lost three or four wickets from nowhere when you were dominating the day's play.

"In County Championship cricket, certainly in Division One, if you lose a session badly, lose six or seven wickets in a session, the chances are that you are going to lose the game. You will not get off the hook.

"You might do in Second Division cricket. But from my experiences of Firsts Division cricket, if you have a bad session, to recover from that you would have to do damm well.

"Those are the things we've been discussing with the lads and from a practice perspective what I wanted to do as batting coach was to see if we could emulate even indoors the timings and the thought processes going on in Championship cricket.

"What we did one morning at Malvern was pretty much start at 8.30 with two hour sessions with 20 minute breaks with the bowlers getting full run-ups in. They would bowl their first spell and come back later in the day just as they would in the middle.

"We had a batting order and, if you were out, you were out and that was it. Tom Kohler-Cadmore did really well and batted all day for 70-80 not out.

"It was about the concentration and those shot selections, the low risk stuff that you need to have to be successful in County Championship cricket."

Sharp is aware of the importance of re-adjusting to the longer format once it becomes interwoven with the NatWest T20 Blast and Royal London One-Day Cup fixtures – something he also had to contend with as a player.

He said: "The T20 has become so popular and is here to stay. We know that.You've got the 50 over game, which is a cross between the long and the short form, and the County Championship.

"The games come thick and fast. Once the T20 starts, there is a constant cross between T20 and the Championship and it is not easy for these lads to sometimes adjust that mentality.

"I can always remember when I played we would play 40 over league matches on a Sunday in the middle of Championship matches. It was hard to adjust.

"From a batting perspective, if you were batting on a Saturday and were not out, if you had a successful Sunday and did well and made runs, Monday morning came and, without wanting to be, you felt a bit jaded, a bit flat because you'd had so high energy.

"I would say there were times you'd never make a run on the Monday if you did well on the Sunday.

"When you've got this high adrenalin stuff going on like T20 and then you've got to get back into a Championship mentality, I can emphasise about how difficult that would be.

"This is what we have to live with. There are no complaints about it. It might be a bit more comfortable for the senior blokes to adjust but not always.

"That T20 stuff is high octane and then you go into a four-day format which requires more patience.

"We've always got those challenges and you have to kind of be ahead of the game really and learn from your previous experiences."