Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Tributes From Elliott, Fearnley,neale And Leatherdale In Honour Of Damian

Tributes From Elliott, Fearnley,neale And Leatherdale In Honour Of Damian

Tributes have been paid to Worcestershire Academy director and former player Damian D'Oliveira who passed away in the early hours of today after a brave two and a half year battle against cancer.

D'Oliveira, 53, the son of Worcestershire legend Basil D'Oliveira, scored more than 9,000 first class runs and nearly 5,000 List A runs between 1982 and 1995 and responsible for discovering many of the current first team squad.

Former Club Chairman Duncan Fearnley said: "I knew Damian from when he was only a few years old when Basil and the family came to Worcestershire in the middle 1960s.

"They bought the house across the road from me and our kids grow up playing cricket on the outfield at New Road.

"It's just so sad and like the rest of his family he has given his life to cricket and to Worcestershire.

"He had a good career here, he loved this club like his dad did.

"His name will live on through the players out there now in the first team as many of them came through the Academy he was in charge of.

"They've all come through the ranks together. He was an exciting batsman, a decent county player, and he and David Leatherdale were fighting for that spot in the middle at that time."

David Morgan, the president-elect of the MCC, said: "I think it is dreadfully sad for his immediate family and for the D'Oliveira family to lose father and son in such quick succession is terribly sad.

"I knew Damian quite well. I thought he was a talented cricketer and even more talented coach. He will be greatly missed.

"He has been here as player and official for 30 years. He grew up here as a baby boy and a young man and is a great loss."

Worcestershire president John Elliott said: "Damian was a very good friend of mine. When he first came to Worcestershire, he worked with me in my garage as an apprentice mechanic.

"I used to sponsor Damian's car, was very close to all the family and Damian was a great friend of mine since the D'Oliveira's first came to Worcestershire.

"It is a very sad moment for Tracey and the family and are thoughts are with them and I have wonderful memories of great times with Damian.

"One of the nicest times was recently when I went up to his house and had a nice quiet drink with him and that memory will live with me for a long time.

"He was a very special person. I was captain of Worcester City when Damian played. He was a very talented player.

"He was capable of brilliance on his day. He had a wonderful talent and a great fielder.

"I loved the days when Graeme Hick fielded on the on side on the boundary and Dolly on the off side and they would have a contest to see who could get the ball in quickest to the fielder.

"He had a great attitude to cricket and a superb guy."

Phil Neale, who skippered the Worcestershire side when D'Oliveira made his debut in 1982, said: "I was Damian's captain but also a friend and we stayed close with Damian, Martin Weston and their families.

"Chris (my wife) and myself found out the news today just before we came down to the old players day at New Road.

"It is just a moment of great sadness for all of us. Equally, you've got to remember Damian for how he was.

"The team I was involved in, he was a great member of that team, a very talented individual, always played with a laugh and a smile but took his cricket seriously and played a big role in Worcestershire being successful.

"We've been discussing things amongst the former players here today and he has a legacy here at the club in having been in charge of the Academy for a long period of time and a lot of the fruits of that are coming through now.

"You are seeing a lot of good young players with the club now and Damian has played a big part in coming through.

"I'm sure people will remember that and he has been Worcestershire through and through as the whole family have.

"It's a very sad moment for the club but let's remember Damian for all the positive things he did with Worcestershire."

Damian faced the challenge of following in the footsteps of his father Basil who was a Worcestershire legend.

Neale said: "It was very hard for him and always 'he didn't quite measure up to his dad' whenever he got a low score.

"But Damian was his own type of player, he was very dangerous player. When we were successful, the wickets did a bit and sometimes the games were high-scoring games.

"But Damian played his attacking shots and quite often would play a match winning innings, a quick 50 or 60, which was worth a 100 of any other flat track in the country.

He bowled useful off spin and was part of the best slip cordon I've probably ever been involved in.

"With Steve Rhodes behind the stumps, you had Damian at first, Hicky at second, Tom Moody and Beefy (Ian Botham) at third and fourth slip. Basically anything that got nicked, got caught."

Worcestershire chief executive David Leatherdale, a former team-mate of D'Oliveira, said: "Next year I will have been here 30 years but Dolly would have done closer to 40 years both as player and coach.

"Today against Glamorgan is a good example of a young lad in Tom Fell who has come through the system and the legacy is not only the players you see today that have come through but there are also a number who are starting to bear the fruits of Dolly's work over the last five-10 years.

"Dolly was pretty laidback, he was a relaxed cricketer. Everyone remembers the way he used to score his runs, he used to score them quite quickly, but he was also a fantastic slip fielder.

"He stood at first slip next to Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) for most of his career and he had as good a pair of hands as you can find. He was a little fellow with a big pair of hands and took a huge amount of catches.

"But he offered everything. He was a great fielder when not in the slips, bowled some reasonable off-spin but his laidback manner was the way he played cricket.

"He was a loveable guy, a really good coach and he did have that eye for a fantastic cricketer through all the sort of age groups.

"Hopefully the guys we've got even younger than the ones playing at the moment will bear the fruits of his hard work."