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Smith savours "special feeling"

By Glen Robertson at the Emirates Durham ICG

Will Smith has claimed Durham's third title victory was the sweetest of the lot, given what the club has been through during the campaign.

After being written off at the start of the season and hit by a 2.5-point deduction, the north-east county recorded 10 victories, including a club-record five-match winning run, with one game still to play, to secure the LV= County Championship title.

The 30-year-old played his part, scoring 745 runs throughout the campaign, and was out in the middle when Mark Stoneman hit the winning runs.

"It's just a special feeling," he told ecb.co.uk. "(To be out there was) brilliant, especially with Mark Stoneman, he's a good friend of mine and had a great season.

"I didn't think I'd get out there, with him and Keaton (Jennings) on 20 odd not out. Then Scott (Borthwick) manages to chip one to mid-on for nought so I got into stride out there on a bit of a hiding to nothing!

"But it was a great feeling, I was over the moon. This year has been phenomenal for a number of reasons but this one has been the best of the three because of the adversity it has been done in."

Will Smith embraces Mark Stoneman as the latter hits the winning runs to secure Durham's third LV= County Championship title

Smith has appeared in all three title-winning matches, an accolade he shares with only wicketkeeper Phil Mustard, and captained the county to the 2009 title.

But he admits being part of a young side who were not expected to compete at the top gave him more satisfaction.

He said: "Those two years, 2008 and 2009, we had so many high-profile players, whereas this year was a complete surprise. Not that we weren't confident in the players' ability, but with what we've done this year, if you said it at the start of the year you'd be scratching your heads a bit.

"Everyone has come in and played their part and done so with such calm and assurity that it's just been phenomenal.

"It's a great success and has probably come a couple of years ahead of where people might have thought it would happen. The fact it's happened now can only bode well for the club in the future.

"You have to think with another year on the young players' backs, the fact they've been able to produce this so young and so early in their careers, who knows what they can achieve? It's a pretty exciting time for the club."

Durham have been involved in some of the most dramatic games in the season. From chasing 184 in 20 overs to beat Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge to a narrow 11-run victory against reigning champions Warwickshire, not to mention skittling out Derbyshire for 63 last week.

Smith could not choose a favourite game, but pinpointed the seven-wicket victory over closest challengers Yorkshire at Scarborough as the moment he knew the title was on.

He said: "When we won at Scarborough I said to a few guys in the dressing room 'we're winning it'.

"That was the point I was sure we'd win it. To put in such a good performance against the title challengers, our one main rival really, I just thought we were winning it now.

"There's been so many wins where the characteristics of each win have been so different. It's not been that we've just won here because we know how to play here; we've actually won away on different wickets and in different conditions.

"It's hard to pick out one and hopefully there's another one coming next week. We've got time for a few days of celebrations, then we'll recuperate and be ready for next week and we'll be trying to win it.

"It's not often a team goes through a year winning 11 games in a championship so we're trying our best to do so."

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