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County chase Dolly tribute
IT would be a fitting tribute to Damian D’Oliveira if Worcestershire were to win promotion to LV= County Championship Division One this season.
New Road has been mourning the death of one of their most treasured sons this week after the 53-year-old lost his battle with cancer.
With the announcement coming just before the start of the Division Two match against Glamorgan on Sunday, it is credit to the Worcestershire team that they kept focus to complete a resounding 249-run victory yesterday.
But I doubt they would have had it any other way. If anything, the untimely tragic loss of D’Oliveira may well have spurred them on in what is fast becoming a fine season for Steve Rhodes’ men.
They are now 12 points clear of Hampshire at the summit and remain unbeaten after 10 games.
Going on to claim the title and promotion would be the icing on the cake and a lasting tribute to the man behind the development of many of the current crop.
Captain Daryl Mitchell, Tom Fell, Tom Kohler-Cadmore, Matt Pardoe, Ben Cox, Chris Russell, Joe Leach and D’Oliveira’s son Brett are all products of the club’s academy.
The hard work that D’Oliveira put into nurturing these talents is now reaping the rewards on the field.
Mitchell (pictured) is one of the country’s leading run-scorers, while Fell and wicket-keeper Cox have both hit centuries this term.
Moeen Ali, who last month scored his maiden Test century for England, and Alexei Kervezee may not be homegrown players, having arrived from Warwickshire and the Netherlands respectively, but D’Oliveira’s influence has been no less great on their careers.
His perhaps understated influence goes beyond the present team, too, with Steven Davies and Aneesh Kapil, both now at Surrey, and Warwickshire's Richard Jones, on loan at Leicestershire, students of the academy in the past.
No doubt, in time, Worcestershire will find their own way of providing a permanent tribute to D’Oliveira, who served them with distinction for more than 30 years, also helping them to two County Championships during a 13-year playing career.
But, for now, a Worcestershire promotion would be fitting.