Kevin Sharp needed only a couple of weeks to identify the batting potential of Brett D’Oliveira after becoming Second Eleven coach four years ago – and sees no reason why he cannot go on and perform at “the top level.”
D’Oliveira was then batting at number eight in the second team but was quickly elevated into the middle order and then into the opening role by Sharp who is now Head Coach at Blackfinch New Road.
Within 18 months he was going in first for the first team, facing a testing baptism in Division One of the County Championship in 2015.
But D’Oliveira showed enough potential in those games to retain the role the following season – and he has not looked back.
An England Lions call-up was received two summers ago and now D’Oliveira is playing for the North versus South in the Caribbean soon to be followed by the MCC versus Champion County Essex – also in the West Indies.
Sharp said: “I came here four years ago under quite tough circumstances for the D’Oliveira family and I got to know the family and Brett very well.
“It’s been wonderful to see him grow and develop as he has and perform in the way he does.
“He’s a family man now, he’s got a little baby, and he is just a top guy who is very professional, a great team man.
“Let’s hope he can do well (in the West Indies) and I see no reason why he can’t go on and play at the top level.
“He’s got great hand-eye co-ordination and he too is a genuine all-rounder.”
Sharp added: “With his bowling, last year with Nathan Lyon and Ravi Ashwin here, he probably hasn’t had the opportunity to bowl the amount of overs he might have liked.
“But he understands that and what he does do is he is always prepared. The all-rounders have to work very hard to keep on top of both skills.
“On the batting side, him and Mitch (Daryl Mitchell) enjoy batting together. They compliment each other and Brett has done a terrific job there and long may it continue.”
Sharp soon recognised of D’Oliveira could bat higher after linking up with the County in the winter of 2013-2014.
He said: “I hope one of my strengths is talent ID. I’d like to think it is and when I came here four years ago, Brett had been overseas that winter.
“As soon as we got started with the Seconds, in one of the first games he came in at number eight.
“I was presented with a batting order because I didn’t really know the lads and within a game or two, he’d played a lovely innings and I remember thinking ‘he shouldn’t be batting at number eight.’
“Within a couple of weeks, he was batting at four-five and he performed there and then an opportunity came for someone to open in the Seconds and I thought ‘why not Brett?’
“We talked about it and he welcomed that opportunity and played beautifully and got a hundred at New Road against Hampshire.
“He faced the new challenge of against the new ball and probably just needed to be a little bit more watchful and perhaps leave a few more deliveries.
“But he has learnt to do that, has got a good temperament, knows how to build an innings now.
“He got in the first team in the opening slot at the end of the following summer and took the opportunity with both hands in Division One.”