Monday, October 3rd, 2016

Sharp: Youngsters “wiser And Stronger” After Mixed Fortunes With Seconds

Sharp: Youngsters “wiser And Stronger” After Mixed Fortunes With Seconds

Kevin Sharp expects Worcestershire's crop of exciting young players to "come back wiser and stronger" next summer after a campaign of mixed fortunes at Second Eleven level.

Worcestershire climbed four places to finish fourth in the Second Eleven Championship with a trio of victories against Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire.

They were unable to repeat that form in white ball cricket which had been a strength in 2015 when narrowly missing out on the knockout stages of the T20 and 50 over competitions.

But Second Eleven and batting coach Sharp says the season will have been a "good learning experience" in the development of the players.

He said: "What are my overall thoughts on season? It has been a mixed campaign. The red ball cricket has been our strength this year.

"We have competed very well in that competition and perhaps, with a bit more fortune, might have finished even higher up. That has been more consistent on the whole.

"We've done well, particularly when in the first half of the season you had to bring in players and triallists so you never quite get a settled team.

"There are lads coming and going a little bit and lads who don't know each other. In light of all those things, we can be really happy with that (red ball cricket)."

Sharp delved into his wide data base of contacts to bring in players during the early part of the campaign when Academy and young pros were away studying at college or school.

He said: "We are developing a strong data base on guys who would be very keen to get the opportunity to play second eleven cricket, some have played for other counties.

"We are actually developing quite a good relationship with the MCC Young Cricketers through Steve Kirby who I've known a long time since his days with Yorkshire.

"He has taken over there now and in the early part of the season,Steve sent me a couple of his players and they played for three or four weeks for us.

"They are looking to secure cricket for their players, some who haven't got counties, and it is a good opportunity to give lads opportunities."

In terms of T20 and 50 over cricket, Sharp said: "It's been a bit more of a battle with the white ball stuff. Perhaps at times we've just been a little bit naive in the way we've played and perhaps personal individual game plans need to be worked upon.

"But we have at times been relatively inexperienced and T20 is a very different format and a very quick game and you've really got to think on your feet and make the correct decisions in order to be successful.

"That will come with playing and I'm sure all the players who have played this year will get lots of good learning from it and they will come back wiser and stronger. I'm sure we will see that next season."

Sharp oversaw the development of Joe Clarke and Ed Barnard before their graduation into the first team during 2015 and it was a similar story with George Rhodes during the second half of ths summer.

He said: "He has deserved it. He has worked so hard. As an all-rounder, he bowls his off spin and bats and has made it hard to get him out.

"He has got a solid compact technique and his work ethic is as good as anyone's and he has got his rewards and deserved to be selected."

Alex Hepburn, who has signed a new one year contract with the County, took over as captain from Rhodes for the second half of the summer.

Sharp said: "With Alex Hepburn, he has developed into a genuine all-rounder.

"He has done his fair share of bowling this time and has been quite successful with that at times as well.

"What we have to remember is with a lot of these lads in the Second Eleven and lads like Alex at their age, they are having to take an awful lot of responsibility.

"George Rhodes was captain for the first half of the season and Alex has taken over that role when George got in the first eleven.

"I'm sure they will mature and grow and learn from having the opportunity to be a leader."

Sharp was proud to see five Worcestershire players selected for England Under-19s even though it left him without their services with the Seconds.

He said: "There were the two lads (Joe Clarke and Brett D'Oliveira) in The Lions as well, so we kind of lost seven players. That is what we are in it for.

"Elliot Wolson runs a strong academy and it's credit to him as well that these lads have come through the ranks.

"They have been well tutored and well looked after and for us, not one of the bigger clubs if you like, to have a third of the England Under-19 team is quite an achievement and a feather in all of our caps.

"We can be very proud of ourselves as a county for being able to produce those sort of players."