Seven days to remember
Posted in Domestic Cricket
Last week could not have gone any better - both for me and Warwickshire.
I took a career-best 11-97 in our must-win LV= County Championship game against Kent and we beat Nottinghamshire to reach the semis of the Clydesdale Bank 40.
We knew before playing Kent that we needed to beat them. They are in a relegation dogfight like us and if we lost then going back to Division Two was a likely prospect. Fortunately, we won by 95 runs.
Kent have a strong batting line-up, so I was delighted to get 11 wickets in the game. It's typical - you wait all season for one 'five-for' then two come in the same game.
They have some top players who are not going to just throw their wicket away and for that reason I was pleased to get both Joe Denly and Rob Key out twice.
I had one of those rare games when everything clicks. Sometimes you end up thinking about your run-up or your action, but against Kent I didn't have to think about anything other than where to land the ball. Getting a couple of early wickets helped as my confidence was high.
The wickets in that game took me to 48 for the season - two away from the mark every bowler aims for. A few weeks ago I thought I'd do well to get 40 wickets, but now I would be really disappointed if I didn't make 50.
Carts [Neil Carter] took his 50th wicket against Kent. It was the first time in 10 seasons that he has reached the 50 mark, so for me to get there in my third season would be something to be proud of.
After beating Kent we now know our fate is in our own hands. If we win at the Rose Bowl next week then we are safe. Even a healthy amount of bonus points might be enough.
Staying in Division One is important for our club. The standard is higher, the cricket is more competitive, the grounds are better, as are the pitches. The gulf between the two divisions seems to be getting wider so, from my point of view, I want to be playing as high a standard of cricket as possible.
To end a brilliant week we then beat Nottinghamshire in what was effectively a quarter-final to move a step closer to Lord's in the CB40. We bowled them out for 192, which we were always confident of chasing, especially with Belly (Ian Bell) and Trotty (Jonathan Trott) back in the side. It was actually quite comfortable in the end.
That win means we have a trip to Scarborough for a semi-final with Yorkshire. I have played there before but I expect the atmosphere to be different this time. It will be quite hostile but all the boys are really looking forward to it.
We have the week off, which gives us a chance to recharge the batteries. I think that might give us an advantage over Yorkshire, who have a crucial Championship game with Nottinghamshire. Their players might be a bit jaded from their efforts in that match.
I think we might be getting a coach up to Yorkshire rather than driving up in cars. We will travel up on Friday and stay over. Hopefully we will put in a performance the next day and get to Lord's.
Playing at Lord's in a cup final would be a dream come true. I remember watching Warwickshire play in Lord's finals on TV and seeing Ashley Giles, Dougie Brown and Keith Piper playing. They are part of our coaching staff now. Hopefully it will be my turn this year.