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Former Worcestershire batsman D'Oliveira dies

George Dobell
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Damian D'Oliveira had a lifelong association with Worcestershire © Getty Images
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Damian D'Oliveira, the Worcestershire Academy director, has died aged 53. He had been battling cancer for two-and-half years.

Born in Cape Town in 1960, Damian was taken to England when he was six-months old as his father, Basil, sought opportunities away from apartheid South Africa. Basil signed for Worcestershire in 1964, starting Damian's lifelong affiliation with a club he was to serve as player and coach.

While Damian's first ambition was to play football - as a 15-year-old he had trials at Arsenal and West Bromwich Albion - he became more interested in cricket when his father brought home a pair of wicketkeeping gloves given by Damian's hero, Alan Knott.

He joined the MCC groundstaff in 1980 and, after two years with them, returned to Worcestershire where he became a regular member of the side in the county's glory years.

Worcestershire, with the likes of Ian Botham, Graham Dilley, Graeme Hick, Tim Curtis, Neal Radford and Phil Newport in the side, won two County Championships, two Sunday Leagues and the Benson Hedges Cup with D'Oliveira contributing as a batsman, sometime bowler and excellent slip catcher.

While there were inevitably times when he lived in the shadow of his father, who played 44 Tests and eventually had a stand at New Road named after him, Damian was good enough to make 1000 runs in a season four times and finished with nearly 10,000 first-class runs and almost 5,000 in List A cricket.

But it was perhaps as a coach that he made his greatest impact. Patient, good-humoured and knowledgeable, several generations of young Worcestershire players benefited from his wisdom and kindness. The majority of the current squad were either spotted or coached by him at some stage.

Worcestershire's players were informed of the news shortly before the start of their Championship match with Glamorgan at New Road. A minute's silence was held in his honour.

Damian leaves a wife, Tracey, and three children Brett, Marcus and Dominic. Brett, a legspinning allrounder, is also on the Worcestershire staff; the third generation of the family to represent the club.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

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