Today I am at the Home of Cricket, Lord’s, for the CB40 final between Warwickshire and Hampshire. Both teams are looking to ‘do the double’, having already found success this season (Warwickshire won the Championship, Hampshire the t20 Cup).
The last time Warwickshire won double in a season was way back in 1995, when they were still basking in the glory of being the first (and still the only) team to ever be triple champions. It is perhaps now a much less likely feat to be achieved; it would require total victory of a season as we now have only three domestic competitions, in three very different formats. For one club to dominate in all three would truly be something special. So it is likely that Warwickshire will maintain the accolade of sole achievers for some time.
Anyway, I digress. The last time I saw Warwickshire in a final at Lord’s was the in one competition that they didn’t win (the Natwest trophy) in that hugely successful season of 1994. Things were very different then. I was a chubby 13-year-old ‘Junior Bear’, sandwiched excitedly between my father and brother in our seats, spellbound by the action, turning frequently to my father to ask enthralled questions. “Why are they clapping?” “What just happened?’ “Who’s bowling now?” “Are there any sandwiches left?” “What do you mean, “shut up and watch the bloody game”?” Warwickshire lost, of course. Some would say it was the fault of the Warwickshire batsmen, who only managed 223 off their 60 overs. Or the bowlers, who allowed the Worcestershire players to reach their target with more than 10 overs to spare. But my kindly brother Simon had other ideas, convincing me that it was my fault. “We’ve won all the finals you didn’t come to,” he said. “You’re a bad luck charm.” Sorry Warwickshire. Sorry fans.
As I sit here at Lord’s today and think back on that final, the contrast between then and now is striking. Little could I have imagined as I sat here 18 years ago screeching the infamous Warwickshire chant: “you beeeeeeaaaaars”, how different things would be the next time I saw the Bears in a final at Lord’s. Today I sit here in a rather different seat – in the press box, and to my left and right, distinguished (?!) cricket writers tap away on their laptops. And the Warwickshire scarf hanging around my neck in 1994 has been replaced by my press pass.
I am very grateful for the privileged seat that I sit in here today. But the only reason I am here is because of days like 3rd
September 1994, one of many days that my wonderful Dad took me to see Warwickshire, patiently explained what was happening, and nurtured my love of the game that remains strong today. He’s here again today, and no doubt I will go and sit with him awhile and enjoy the game, just like we did all those years ago. But I’ll be hoping for a different outcome for Warwickshire today, if only to finally prove my big brother wrong.