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A perfect end to the season

Posted in Domestic Cricket

Hitting the winning runs for Warwickshire in the Clydesdale Bank 40 Final was the highlight of my career.

What a moment. Not many people get the chance to do that in a Lord's final and it's something that will live with me forever.

I have played at Lord's before but this was different. I was nervous about playing in a final for my county in front of a big crowd. If you don't get the opportunity to play for England then this is the biggest stage you will play on.

It meant a lot to me as I had grown up watching Warwickshire winning trophies, the likes of Gilo [Ashley Giles] and Dougie Brown who are now on our coaching staff.

We won our last LV= County Championship game against Hampshire early so we checked into our London hotel on Thursday night.

After training the next morning I spent the afternoon just chilling out with some of the lads. I had a coffee in St John's Wood with Jim Troughton, Richard Johnson, Ant Botha and Steffan Piolet then looked around a few shops. Some of the lads had a haircut to make sure they looked good on TV.

On the morning of the game, I was warming up on the Nursery Ground when the tannoy announced Belly [Ian Bell] had won the toss and decided to bowl first. That was always our plan as we prefer chasing.

I was relieved, even though I knew I would be opening the bowling against Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter. They are both amazing players. We did our homework and discussed their strengths. Unfortunately for us they are strong all around the wicket.

Warwickshire

I had seen Warwickshire win cup finals at Lord's when I was growing up so Saturday was a dream come true

I was happy with how I bowled my first spell, conceding 28 from six overs spread over two powerplays. I'd have taken that if anyone had offered that to me before the game.

I ended up with 0-31 from my eight overs. I would have liked to have taken a wicket but I did a good job for the side and was happy enough to catch Trescothick out. It wasn't a skier but it went high enough considering it was a Lord's final and that it had Trescothick's name on it.

Despite getting him and Kieswetter out cheaply, they were looking set for a big score until Immi [Imran Tahir] changed the game. It was a great piece of captaincy from Belly to change him to the Pavilion End and he just tore through them. In many ways he won us the game.

Immi is a great bloke and excellent to have in the changing room. He loves a celebration too as anyone at Lord's saw and we'll miss him next year when he'll be playing for Hampshire.

We bowled Somerset out for 199 and felt from there that it was our game to lose. There were a few nerves when we were 39 for three but Belly and Troughton steadied it for us.

Belly was unbelievable. He is a world class player who has scored runs for England for years, so it's always a boost when he plays for us. He makes it look so easy. It was effortless at times. He is really passionate about playing for Warwickshire, which you saw when he celebrated early thinking he'd hit the winning runs.

With two runs to win I took off my helmet and joined the rest of the lads on the balcony. I was next in but didn't expect to bat. Belly then nailed one to mid-off which meant I had to go out and hit the winning run.

Imran Tahir & Ian Bell

Our matchwinners - Immi arguably won the game with his five wickets but Belly's hundred was truly sensational

After the trophy presentation, we went back to the dressing room where we drank beer and champagne. Some of the Somerset lads came in which was nice. I felt quite sorry for them as they have bossed all forms of cricket this year.

From there we went back to our hotel for more drinks, still in my kit and with the winners' medal around my neck. It was a great night. The lads didn't look particularly good on Sunday morning though.

It was a great end to the season for us. We struggled in the championship and were rock bottom a few weeks ago. We showed real character to win our last three matches that kept us in Division One.

From a personal point of view, I'm delighted with my stats. I finished with 54 championship wickets at 21.6 which stacks up well against anyone else in the country.

Every bowler aims for 50 wickets in a season so it means a lot that I have managed it at just 21 years old. Hopefully people will take notice of that.

I worked hard at my batting this year so was pleased with 431 runs which included a century against Hampshire. I'm improving with the bat and want to keep contributing runs for the county. Ultimately I want to move up the order but I know I need to score more runs if I want to do that.

It's been a long season but we aren't finished quite yet. We had screening at Edgbaston on Tuesday and still have fitness tests left. Once they are done I can look forward to going to Tenerife this Friday with my girlfriend. It will be nice to put my feet up and chill out.

Chris Woakes

Not many people can say they have hit the winning runs in a Lord's final. It will live with me forever