Darren Maddy can testify from happy experience that the derby atmosphere will only serve to inspire Birmingham Bears when they visit arch-rivals Worcestershire Rapids in the NatWest T20 Blast on Friday.
Blast tussles between the neighbours are always highlights of the West Midlands sporting summer and a pulsating atmosphere is assured from a Friday-evening full-house beside the Severn.
And it was a backdrop that often brought the best out of Maddy. In his last three T20 innings against the Rapids at New Road for the Bears, before leaving to become director of cricket at Solihull School, he scored 167 runs from 127 balls with 16 fours and six sixes – without being dismissed.
In 2010, Maddy’s unbeaten 44 (48 balls) featured in a century partnership with Jonathan Trott which set up a nine-wicket win for the Bears. Two years later, after Jeetan Patel stifled the Rapids with 4-0-15-1, Maddy (39 not out, 37 balls) and Varun Chopra put on 83 in 11 overs to seal an eight-wicket victory.
Then in 2013, it was Maddy and Chopra again, this time adding 119 in 12 overs, with Maddy stroking a majestic unbeaten 84 (42 balls, nine fours, three sixes) in a seven-wicket win.
One of the best T20 exponents in cricket history, Maddy’s all-round talents shone at many venues, of course. But he relished few occasions more than a Bears v Rapids clash.
“Playing in the derby was always special, home or away,” said the Edgbaston favourite. “I know how much the players will be looking forward to it because there is so much local pride at stake, as well as vital points towards qualification.
“I always enjoyed the games at New Road, with a big crowd in, a lovely setting and the ground buzzing. In the smaller grounds like New Road and Leicester, where I was lucky enough to have some really special times, the atmosphere was electric because, even if the crowd if not as big as some, it feels like it is because the spectators are so close.
“I have some very happy memories of New Road, not so much because I scored some runs, but mainly we won those games.
“Worcestershire got the better of us a few times too, of course. It’s a great rivalry between two good T20 sides and this year, as always, both have got their sights set on qualification so there is a lot at stake. I’m sure it will be a fantastic spectacle on Friday.”