Dolly was a major influence on us all

Worcester News: DARYL MITCHELL: Memories of Damian D’Oliveira. DARYL MITCHELL: Memories of Damian D’Oliveira.

DOLLY (Damian D’Oliveira) was a massive influence on my career and those of many other people here at the club.

We counted 17 names who came through his guidance in the Worcestershire academy and went on to play first-class cricket, which did not include some more youngsters still in our system.

I first knew Dolly as a player back in the late 1980s and early 90s when I was a young lad watching in the stands.

I then worked with him when I joined the academy as a 14-year-old and he was a massive influence on me right up until this winter.

I often felt Dolly knew more about my batting than I did.

Bumpy (Steve Rhodes) broke the news to us before our County Championship game with Glamorgan.

I have never experienced anything like that morning before and I don’t want to again — put it this way, I have never seen so many catches dropped in a warm-up.

For the two Toms (Fell and Kohler-Cadmore) to go out and play like they did to get us out of a hole and allow us to post over 350 was testament to Dolly and a fitting tribute to the man.

I can’t imagine how tough it must be for Brett D’Oliveira and the rest of the family, but he has been in among his team-mates and said it felt good to be around everyone.

I’m sure he will continue the proud D’Oliveira legacy at this club for a long time.

One of Dolly’s special qualities was he had a great eye for a player – he wasn’t one to make you face hundreds of balls in practice.

If something was wrong, he stood behind you in the nets and would only need two or three balls to figure it out and offer a solution.

He was a great coach with incredible knowledge, but he also told excellent stories and was a great man too.

I probably learnt as much from him in hotel bars after games as I did in the nets.

Dolly will be sorely missed by everyone at the club.

On the cricket front, with Hampshire and Surrey drawing, our convincing win over Glamorgan took us clear at the top of Division Two.

We play Leicestershire next in the championship at New Road next weekend, which will be Saeed Ajmal’s last game, so hopefully we can keep up our good form and he can sign off on a high note.

He will be a huge miss for us, but we got a win before he arrived, while replacement Mitchell McClenaghan offers a different dimension as a left-arm strike bowler.

Shaaiq Choudhry or Brett will probably come in with Moeen Ali on England duty, so we will play a slightly different brand of cricket.

Our seamers stepped up to the plate when we lost Alan Richardson and hopefully they will do the same again.

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