The day that Warwickshire clinched the 2021 County Championship title was full of wonderful moments but none more special than when the trophy was actually handed over to the Bears.
Receiving the most prestigious prize in English cricket is always going to be special – but this time round the presentation had an extra resonance as it was made by a very special person.
Much has been said and written about the fantastic effort it was from the coaches and players to bring the title to Edgbaston for only the eighth time. But arguably the most important man in the equation, the guy who binds it all together off the field and makes it work, and the biggest contributor to any success, is cricket operations manager Keith Cook.
So it was entirely appropriate, says Bears director of cricket Paul Farbrace, that ‘Cookie’ handed over the trophy to the club which he has helped to power since August 4th, 1973.
Since that day, when he first clocked on as an office assistant on the princely salary of £650/year, Cookie has filled pretty much every off-field role at the club. Since 2005 he has been cricket operations manager, a position he has fulfilled with an integrity, efficiency, strength and graciousness which is admired and appreciated globally.
“It was wonderful and entirely appropriate that Cookie presented the championship trophy,” said Farbrace. “He embodies all the qualities and values to which Warwickshire County Cricket Club, and any organisation, should aspire.
“Cookie is respected and loved not just at Edgbaston but by people in cricket around the world. There could not possibly have been anyone more fitting to hand over the trophy than Keith whose contribution to Warwickshire cricket over nearly 50 years is beyond measure.”Paul Farbrace
Last year, Cook was awarded the British Empire Medal for services to cricket. To follow that up this year by seeing his beloved club win the championship trophy was a great joy for the Small Heath-born legend.
To actually present the trophy himself…well that was something he didn’t see coming.
“It was an amazing surprise,” said Cook. “I had no idea it was coming until about five minutes beforehand. It was a great honour to be asked to make the presentation.”
It is the fifth championship title of which Cook has been a part. Having joined the club in 1973, right at the start of the long barren streak in the ’70s and 80’s that followed the ’72 championship triumph, he had a long wait before the titles started to flow – 1994, 1995, 2004, 2012 and 2021
He regards them all with equal pride and joy.
“This was just as special,” he said. “There is no way you can ever say one exceeds the others. They are all just as exciting and wonderful because it’s a different group of players and it’s always the first time for some of them and it’s fantastic to see the joy on their faces.
“You never get blasé about it. I always love to see the celebrations of the players and staff and our wonderful members and supporters because this cricket club is a family. It’s not just a club or an organisation, it’s a family.
“When the team loses we all hurt and when it wins we all feel that pride and joy. It is a real privilege to be part of that and we are all very fortunate to be part of this amazing family and be able to celebrate brilliant successes like this year.”
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