There’s still no live cricket to debate at the minute, so I’ve had a trawl through the memory bank for this week’s column.
As a player and coach I’ve been lucky enough to play in some hugely memorable matches.
So I’ve decided to pick five – in no particular order – which still evoke fond memories today.
LONGTON V LITTLE STOKE – 1998
This was our title-winning season at Little Stoke, but we went to Longton with a depleted side.
We had three or four players missing, including Adrian Butters, who was attending the birth of his eldest son.
But we managed to win the game… and remarkably did it with 10 men.
We did have 11 at the start, but Tim Ecclestone and our skipper Tony Dutton had a disagreement, shall we say, at tea – and that resulted in Tim refusing to field.
I believe it all stemmed from the fact that Tim had been sent out to score some quick runs, but it hadn’t happened for him that day and he ate up a lot of balls.
Both Tim and Tony are very opinionated people and don’t back down, so we trooped out after tea with only 10 men as we defended a score somewhere in the region of 180.
It was a match which swung both ways and I recall getting Dave Womble out with possibly the worst lbw decision I’ve ever benefited from!
We kept chipping away, but it got very dark, although both sides wanted to carry on because there was the chance of a positive result.
We bowled them out with not many needed and that victory gave us huge belief as we went on to win the title. And it was very satisfying to only do it with 10 men!
Tim and Tony made up pretty quickly – in fact, if memory serves, Tim watched us field that day while supping a pint.
However, we moved on and were soon all celebrating together.
LITTLE STOKE v MODDERSHALL – 1998
I’m a touch hazy on the scores on this one, but Moddershall arrived at the Sid Jenkins Ground with a very good side.
At least one of the Hawkins’ would have been playing and Scott Oliver – they were a very good outfit.
Modd batted first and got an inbetween score, something like 170 or 180. It was always going to be tight when we batted, but as it got closer, me being an inexperienced player was getting more and more nervous.
I was out there batting, we’re eight down, and Tim Ecclestone is dismissed on the final ball of the penultimate over.
We needed one to win off the final over, with me facing, and Wayne Stones – a seamer – bowling.
What tickled me was that our last man Alan Palmer toddled out with all of his protective gear on, even though he knew he wasn’t going to face a ball!
I bodged the first two or three balls and then I was bowled. It was a tie. We had needed one to win with two wickets in hand and hadn’t done it.
I must admit I was in a complete panic batting that day. There was a ring of fielders preventing the one, and I didn’t want to have a whoosh at a delivery in case I got out.
I’ve got to concede that I’ve never felt worse at the end of a game than I did that day.
WORCESTERSHIRE v WARWICKSHIRE – 2013
This was a Yorkshire Bank 40 match and my last televised game.
The match had everything – a derby encounter on a Saturday, the sun blazing and a full house at New Road.
It was a really close game and you’d have looked at the Warwickshire side and thought we might struggle that day.
Warwickshire had just started to get going again and had won a couple of one-day trophies and not long won the Championship.
At Worcestershire, meanwhile, we were in Division Two and our white-ball cricket hadn’t been the best.
Atiq Javid and Stef Piolet got Warwickshire close to our score of 210, but I managed to get Piolet out.
In fairness I bowled like a drain at the end, and I was relieved when Chris Wright was run out with eight or nine needed.
Wrighty and Javid had a mix up after the ball went out deep on the leg side and I watched in slow motion as Alex Kervezee picked the ball up and threw it in.
I had left Warwickshire in 2005 and hadn’t beaten them in a game since, so that made this win sweet.
And at Worcestershire we have a club cricket feel – in a nice way. About half an hour after match, when the crowd has gone, you sit on the outfield and have a beer.
It tasted nice that day.
WARWICKSHIRE v WORCESTERSHIRE – 2018
A Royal London Cup game and the first time I’d been back to Edgbaston as a coach.
We had devised some elaborate plans for their batsmen, like Moeen Ali opening the bowling, and we took a few wickets, which is always nice to see as a coach.
But Warwickshire managed to get up to 292… and then Moeen went ballistic.
Warwickshire went aggressive at us and we were aggressive back. Jeetan Patel was intent on bowling us out and kept his best bowlers on, but Mo just kept smashing them. He scored a superb hundred.
When he was out, Ross Whiteley and Ben Cox played nicely and we were cruising.
But then they were both out and Warwickshire sniffed blood. We collapsed and managed to limp over the line to win by one wicket.
It was a really good contest and I remember Ed Barnard hitting the winning runs off Will Rhodes.
As a result, we secured a home semi-final, but if we had lost we’d have been out of the competition.
It was a frantic finish – and a lesson in how not to finish a cricket match!
TWENTY20 FINALS DAY – 2018
This was at Edgbaston and what a great day it was. I’ve won and lost in finals at Lord’s and been involved in five T20 finals days – but this was special.
Worcestershire were at finals day for the first time and we hadn’t won any silverware for a while. It was such a big day for the club and at the start we were just happy to be there.
Moeen Ali was very relaxed and said ‘this is the day we win a trophy’.
We’d won an ugly quarter-final against Gloucester at New Road and now faced Lancashire in the semis at Edgbaston.
We beat them and it was Sussex in the final. I was actually really emotional after beating Lancashire. No-one likes losing a semi-final – it’s like getting thrown out of your own birthday party.
Sussex had one hell of a side. Tymal Mills, Jofra Archer and Chris Jordan were their seamers and Danny Briggs and Will Beer provided the spin options.
But we managed to win and Ben Cox played an absolutely superb innings to see us home.
Pat Brown was amazing with the ball that day and I recall our fielding being sensational.
And bringing home a trophy to Worcestershire just meant so much.
There’s my five matches, but before I wrap up, I’d like to say a huge well done to Luke Woodward.
The Longton all-rounder did back-to-back marathons for the ‘smashthetash’ campaign at the weekend as he visited all 12 NSSCL Premier Division grounds.
Luke, what a sensational effort. I used to live in Stone and the drive to Meakins was arduous enough – let alone running it!