WORCESTERSHIRE'S Kevin Sharp has revealed the relentless practice sessions undertaken by Worcestershire's batsmen to help perfect the control and discipline needed to be successful in red-ball cricket.

For hour after hour, day after day, the County’s front-line batsmen were confronted with a bowling machine set up in such a way to send down countless line and length deliveries and designed to make them get their head down.

Head coach Alex Gidman and Co recognised the need to improve this department after last summer’s poor form with the bat in the County Championship saw Worcestershire finish second from bottom in Division Two.

Now the opportunity to put all that work into practice will begin with today’s (Saturday's) Bob Willis Trophy opener against Gloucestershire at Bristol.

Former head coach Sharp, who is now head of coach and player development at Blackfinch New Road, said: “We did under-achieve with the bat particularly last year and have been up and down from First to Second Division.

“There has been an element of really good performances at times and then perhaps a little bit of inconsistency. Last year we weren’t quite able to strike any form of consistency and quite regularly we were a few wickets down for not many runs.

“It’s always very difficult to recover from that. We have become a very good one-day side but we have recognised that we are inconsistent in the red-ball game and needed to address that.

“We went through a period of batters coming in and batting against a bowling machine for two or three hours at a time.

“The bowling machine was bowling well, he’s a good bowler if you get him at the right pace, right swing and bounce!

“If I had been a bowling machine, I would have played Test cricket!

“We’ve had lads batting for two hours and they were not getting a ball to hit. It was a case of ‘top of off stump, top of off stump‘ and so they’ve got to play with control and discipline.

“We worked hours on that and in fairness to the lads it could have become very boring but they bought into it and man for man they did it.

“It was so disappointing at the start of this season when we weren’t able to play because we all felt that having put the time into red-ball cricket, we were really ready for that. Hopefully on August 1 we will put that work into practice.”

Gidman has added Jake Libby (Nottinghamshire) and, from next summer, Gareth Roderick (Gloucestershire) to the batting line-up. New Zealander Hamish Rutherford would also have played all of this summer but for COVID-19.

Sharp, who also had a season as head coach at Yorkshire, said: “We’ve added more experience to this line-up. We’ve still got the younger players but we’ve still got some experience as well.

“In my opinion, of working with high-class players at Worcestershire and Yorkshire, batters don’t always reach maturity until they are 26, 27.

“By the time you get to that age you’ve had lots of experiences and know how to deal with adversity and we’ve got that with Jake and Gareth joining us.”