Jamie Harrison looks back on the moment Durham won the LV= County Championship, says goodbye to team-mates and, finally, replaces Pete Peugeot.
It’s been a surreal couple of weeks. To win the championship with Durham was a dream come true and it was one of the proudest days of my life.
To do it with a lot of lads that I’ve grown up with in cricketing terms was even better. Before when Durham won the County Championship we’ve had unbelievable sides to do it, but to win it with young lads who have progressed through the academy - especially local lads who have stood up this year and taken on senior roles - has been amazing.
I remember we were all hunched together on the balcony and from about 20 runs to go none of us could stand still. We’ve worked so hard this year, all the long days - like Scarborough where we fielded for 210 overs straight - and all those hard days the lads put in at the start of the season.
Every hurdle we’ve faced, be it off the pitch or on the pitch - Geoff Cook’s heart-attack, Benky (Dale Benkenstein) being injured, not having an overseas player - we’ve always leapt above it and we’ve always pulled together as a collective unit. We were waiting for that moment.
People say when sporting moments happen they go quickly, and it was all a bit of a blur. I just remember seeing the ball fly through the outfield and everyone was in a big huddle screaming, hugging and congratulating each other.
It went from the winning runs being hit to the champagne being sprayed pretty quickly. I was stood on the balcony and Ben Stokes said to me “mate, we’ve won the championship” and it was just a surreal feeling. It didn’t sink in until a couple of days after.
A couple of the old lads were suffering the next day. I know Graham Onions was pretty hanging! But they’re the kind of moments you play for in sport.
I know a lot of lads talk about when they won it at Kent in 2008 and the bus journey home, and I think a lot of the lads will remember the day and the night we had in the changing rooms. We didn’t move from our whites, we sat in our places and we sang the Blaydon Races a couple of times through the night.
I’m obviously not from Durham but I’ve been here since I left school and I’m proud to wear that badge on my chest and I’m proud to play for the area. I know how passionate the area is about cricket and how passionate the blokes at the helm - Geoff Cook and John Lewis who's stepped up this year - are about the club and it’s been an absolute honour and privilege to say I had a little bit of a contribution to bring that trophy to Chester-le-Street.
Unfortunately we’ve had a couple of people leaving this year, a couple of good friends and a couple of blokes that I look up to in the changing room. Smudger (Will Smith) has left. He’s been a great servant to Durham, captaining the team when they won the championship in 2009.
Ruel Brathwaite, my house-mate - my Bajan-brother-from-another-mother - I’ll miss him. I think I’ll miss his cooking more than anything! Also Callum Thorp. He is a testament to what a fast bowler should be. For me as a swing bowler he was perfect to have in our changing room to talk to about cricket.
To lose such genuine blokes is hard. It’s a shame and they’re all going to be missed but at the end of the day that's professional sport.
I’d also like to say congratulations to Ben Stokes and Mark Wood on their call-ups for the Ashes and the England Performance Programme respectively.
Seeing two of my good mates step up this year and show how much potential we all knew they had is an absolute joy. It’s testament to how hard they work. I trained with Ben before he went to India with the Lions - he works as hard as any one I know - and it’s the same with Woody. He came back this year bowling probably the quickest on the county circuit; for a skinny lad that’s pretty decent!
It’s every young lads' dream to be involved in the England set-up and it’s my dream to play Test cricket. If you play sport and you don’t want to play at the highest level there’s not really much point in playing it.
Finally, I have to announce that Pete Peugeot has been laid to rest. It was a long time coming.
I’ve got myself a nice new car. A brand new Mercedes A Class on the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the shed on wheels that I was driving around this year! I was lucky enough to get in contact with a company that specialises in sportsmen and they’ve sorted me out. They’ve worked wonders to get me a car in the space of a week and I can’t say thanks enough.
If you’d told me a year ago that I’d be part of a championship-winning side and driving around a Mercedes I’d have said to myself “why am I being a Champagne Charlie driving a flash car like that?!”
This time last year I was just getting off the sofa and starting my routine for the winter following my injury. I was swimming every day for a couple of hours and going spinning at six in the morning with Ben before he went to India. We always had the belief that with how close we were as a team and with Colly (Paul Collingwood) at the helm, we could do something unbelievable.