The Warwickshire squad that won the treble in 1994 left a unique legacy in cricket - and no member of that all-conquering unit is better qualified to speak about legacy than Dougie Brown.
The all-rounder made his debut in ’94, hit the ground running with a match-turning innings on his first visit to the crease, and went on to become the only player ever to figure in three championship-winning seasons for the Bears.
In ’94, Brown played in three games, starting with a crucial win over Surrey at Guildford, and made a significant contribution to wins in two of them. In ’95, as Warwickshire retained the title with a record-breaking proportion of wins (14 from 17 games) he played 13 games, scored 441 runs at 29.40 and took 34 wickets at 24.76.
There were so many fine players, all the way down the order from Andy Moles at the top, getting stuck in in all conditions, to Tim Munton who bowled with such skill and stamina and consistency.Dougie Brown
Nine years later, in 2004, the Scot was a major driving force behind the surprise championship win of Nick Knight’s side. In a batsmen-led triumph, he had an excellent season with the bat – 911 runs at 50.61 – and was also the Bears’ top wicket-taker with 38 at 33.50.
To be part of three championship triumphs spread over 12 years is true testament to a player’s skills, fitness and appetite over the course of a long career. Brown is justifiably proud (no-one ever wore a Warwickshire shirt with greater pride) of that achievement – and also of being part of that ’94 legacy.
“There is something about playing for Warwickshire that gets under your skin,” he said. “You feel as though you are part of something very special with all the great players and sides that have gone before you and that does motivate you. It was definitely one of the things that drove the guys in the mid-90s when I was lucky enough to be coming through.
“There were so many fine players, all the way down the order from Andy Moles at the top, getting stuck in in all conditions, to Tim Munton who bowled with such skill and stamina and consistency. Then there was the big star of the Brian Lara alongside unsung heroes like Neil Smith. Brian was brilliant that season but also there were so many times Neil scored important runs when we were under pressure, and we knew that if the ball was turning he could rip opponents out in the second innings.
“All the stars aligned really. So many players made little contributions and then every now and then someone would make a monster contribution. It was a fantastic learning ground. It’s probably no coincidence that quite a few of the guys who came through around that time have gone on to have very good coaching careers.
“For me it was just a privilege to be part of and an amazing way to start my career. Looking back, I am proud of my career and having been involved in three championship wins. That takes a bit of luck and you need to stay relatively fit, which I did. I was never the best cricketer in the world but I always tried my best.”
Brown later cemented his place as one of Warwickshire’s great all-time servants by leading the Bears to T20 glory for the first time, in 2014, as director of cricket. He is now head coach of the United Arab Emirates team, to whom he is contracted until June 2020, and “really enjoying it…it is a very different culture and climate but there are some good players here and some exciting talents. It is challenging but very enjoyable.”
It is Warwickshire, however, with whom Brown will always be most closely associated. He was a towering figure throughout an era which brought much success – and saw him line up alongside and against many of the best players in the world.
So, of all those players, who was it that Brown most relished coming up against?
“Lara and Donald – no question,” he says without hesitation. “They were the two. It was brilliant to be on their side for Warwickshire but also great to play against them because you want to test yourself against the best – and they were the best.
“I always enjoyed bowling to Brian. Challenges don’t get much bigger than that and it was similar facing Allan. You could see the discomfort of opposing batsmen against A.D but they only had to face him once or twice a season – we had to face him in the nets every week!”