Dougie Brown is right up there among the best all-rounders to play for Warwickshire - but admits that even now he looks back and has to "pinch himself" when he thinks of the great players he played alongside at Edgbaston.
Brown’s record for the Bears – 8,066 runs and 515 wickets in first-class cricket and 4,239 runs and 332 wickets in limited-overs – take some beating.
It saw him recently short-listed for the Greatest Ever Bears All-rounder accolade before being pipped by Tom Cartwright for the award. The Scot is right up there in the Bears pantheon – but reflects very humbly on his early first-team days in 1995 when, in his first full season, he played in 13 of the 17 matches of the championship triumph.
“It was ridiculous,” he recalls. “Even now, when I look back on my career, I think, yeah, I did okay and had a reasonable career, but sometimes I’ve actually got to pinch myself. I can’t believe I was in that environment, playing alongside some of these absolute legends of the game: Allan Donald, Gladstone Small, Tim Munton. To be taking the new ball alongside A.D…unbelievable.
“I did a fair bit of bowling into the wind but I think that was reasonable! With A.D in the team, I wouldn’t be running downhill and with the wind! I didn’t mind because you knew it was what the team needed.Dougie Brown
“That was the mindset of that squad. We all wanted to do well for ourselves, of course, but you also knew that once you are established in that dressing-room, it’s not about you making a name for yourself, it’s about doing a job for the team.
“I remember a game against Yorkshire at Edgbaston in ’95 when I got four for not many in both innings and a few runs. At the time I didn’t fully appreciate that actually that was a pretty good effort. I was just a young player so happy to be involved and running in and bowling.
“But in the first innings I knocked some of over the top order and that was always a really nice thing to do. We had A.D and Munt and Glad and you expect these guys to roll over the top order but when some little lad from Scotland rocks up and manages to do a job for the team…that game stands out as a highlight!”
Brown’s input to the ’95 triumph was significant with both bat and ball. One of his match-shaping knocks saw the Bears home in a fantastic match against Somerset at Edgbaston when they chased down a target of 301 in 80 overs against Mushtaq Ahmed on a turning wicket.
Andy Moles formed the backbone with 131 but his partners came and went and the Bears still had plenty to do when Brown went in at 219 for seven. The young Scot settled any nerves with an aggressive unbeaten 36, rounded off by the winning boundary off Harvey Trump.
“Somerset got 495 in their first innings so it was a decent game to win,” said Brown. “It was spinning for Mushy but Moler batted unbelievably well. I went in a eight and scored some runs quite quickly. It was the sort of small contribution by everybody that made a massive difference that season. Somebody always chipped in.
“Moler picked up an injury during that innings and Nick Knight came out to run so there was Moler, Knighty and I in the middle talking about strategy. Actually, maybe not so much strategy, there was probably a lot of rubbish being spoken, but we managed to see it through and Moler was amazing.”
For Brown, the ’95 season established him as a first-team force which he was to remain for a decade. He is the only player to figure in three county championship title triumphs – 1994, 1995 and 2005 – for Warwickshire.
And his success as a player, and subsequently as a coach, owes much to what he learned in those formative years as part of the great mid-’90s squad at Edgbaston.
“I learned so much,” he recalls. “In 1995, A.D was brilliant when we won the championship. Then in ’97 he probably bowled as well and quick as he ever did but I took more championship wickets then he did! That was because everyone was running scared from Al and trying to line me up and have a hack at me.
“I got lucky. It was Allan creating the pressure and that made me realise that cricket is totally about partnerships, whether that’s batting or bowling. And when you are bowling, you are bowling as a team.”