Warwickshire’s sensational victory over Sussex in the NatWest Trophy final of 1993, chasing down 321 to win off the very last ball, left some giant legacies. A legacy of joy and wonderful memories among many thousands of people watching both at Lord’s and from afar. A legacy of a new approach to one-day cricket, vibrant and adventurous; aggressive from ball one. A legacy of the bar being raised in limited-overs batting. But for the Bears, there was one more very specific legacy.
When I was growing up, they were the big days. There was no Twenty20 then so it was unique and amazing to go to Lord’s and watch Warwickshire play in a final.Ian Bell
For that was the day, September 4, 1993, that convinced one young supporter that this was what he wanted to do: Play for Warwickshire in a Lord’s final. And win.
And for that 11-year-old boy, one of the hundreds charging across the outfield at the end of the amazing match, things didn’t turn out too bad. For that was the first time Ian Bell set foot on the hallowed Lord’s turf.
The first of many, with Warwickshire and England, it was to transpire of course. Bell will be back again, leading the Bears against Surrey in the Royal London Cup final on September 17 – and the magic of Lord’s has not faded.
The excitement felt by that 11-year-old wannabee in ’93 still beats deep in the heart of the 34-year-old who has played 287 games for England. “Lord’s final are great occasions for everybody – players or supporters,” Bell said. “They are days you always remember.
“When I was growing up, they were the big days. There was no Twenty20 then so it was unique and amazing to go to Lord’s and watch Warwickshire play in a final.
To captain the side and make a match-winning contribution with the bat was one of the best days I have ever had in a Warwickshire shirtIan Bell
“I was there in ’93 with my family in the Grand Stand. There were a lot of Sussex fans around us and they were quite chirpy for most of the day, but the day just built and built in a fantastic way. I remember running on to the outfield in the dark at the end. They are special memories. That day is the reason I wanted to play for Warwickshire.
“I think that game was special in so many ways because it was probably the first game of one-day cricket in the modern-style. There were reverse-sweeps, I remember Martin Speight sweeping Tim Munton, and all sorts of shots that people were seeing for the first time.”
So that evening in 1993, 11-year-old Bell travelled back to the Midlands full of dreams. Fast-forward nine years and Warwickshire are back at Lord’s to play Essex in the Benson & Hedges Cup final. Bell’s unbeaten 65 steers them to victory.
Another eight years and Bell, now long an England player, captains the Bears against Somerset in the CB 40 final and scores a century – “To captain the side and make a match-winning contribution with the bat was one of the best days I have ever had in a Warwickshire shirt,” he recalls. Dreams sometimes come true.
If Bell has his way, he will lead the Bears in plenty more Lord’s finals yet. And, he insists, the glory of the occasion will never dim.
“When you go to Lord’s, for Test cricket or a county game or a final, it is a different occasion than anywhere else,” he said. “At Edgbaston we are lucky to have probably the best facilities in the country and up there in the world, but Lord’s is completely unique.
“You go into the Long Room and up the stairs and whichever dressing-room you are in you are steeped in history and great names with all the great players and their hundreds and five-fors. You feel part of something very special. It’s the only place in the world you get that.”