There is just one thing about the glorious conclusion to Warwickshire's 2021 season that Sam Hain would like to change...he would like to be able to bottle the feelings from it and carry them round far into the future.
The 2021 campaign threw up some wonderful moments at Edgbaston from very early on with pulsating final-day wins over Nottinghamshire and Essex at Edgbaston.
Then came qualification for the championship’s top division – and then the last two weeks which delivered a dazzling crescendo with one of the most excitingly clinched championship titles ever, followed by victory in the Bob Willis Trophy at Lord’s.
The joy and pride and smiles that the double glory has triggered have lit up the autumn for all connected to the Bears, locally and globally. That is a measure of the place the club has in the hearts of so many and, for a squad very early in its development, the double is an incredible achievement of which the players should be immensely proud.
None more so than Hain whose skill, commitment and passion for the Bears was at the heart of it all; first and foremost, those skills. Many of his 826 runs arrived at crucial, high-pressure times. Many of his 18 catches were match-shaping, notably the superb pick-up at slip to oust Gary Ballance in the first over of the final morning against Yorkshire at Headingley.
Hain’s contribution was massive but he is, as always, quick to play down his own work. He prefers to dwell on the collective…and admits that he is still trying to take in all that has happened.
“Even now it still seems a little bit surreal,” he said. “I’m still pretty emotional when I talk about it. To win the championship in the last session of the last day of the last game of the season, at Edgbaston cheered on by our brilliant supporters – you just wouldn’t write that script! Then to add the Bob Willis Trophy was pretty special.
“I am just so grateful and proud to be part of this squad and of this club. It is about so much more than the players – so many people contribute off the field and they all deserve this success. After the last game I took the trophy over to some of our supporters and you could see it meant just as much to them as it did to us. That is a very special thing to be part of.
“I think it all might not properly sink in until the end-of-season dinner at the start of November. I am really looking forward to that and everybody – players, staff, supporters – getting together to celebrate. That’s what this club is about.
“I just wish I could bottle the feelings of the last couple of weeks and carry them round with me. They will be something to call on and cherish long in the future.”
The Bears’ achievements of 2021 will certainly be relived by their fans far into the future and they will stand in the history books forever.
Since entering the county championship for the first time in 1894, Warwickshire have won it only eight times. That’s a serious slice of history that Hain and his team-mates have secured.
“Olly Hannon-Dalby and myself joined the club in 2013, the year after the Bears last won the title and there was a lot of talk about how special that was,” he said. “Over the years some very good teams and some great players have not lifted the championship so in some ways it’s a little bit hard to take it in that we have done it.
“I am just so proud of the boys. I’m not sure that winning the championship was on the radar for too many people at the start of the season (though I think it was on Robbo’s!). But it was brilliant the way so many guys have put their hands up and made vital contributions when they were needed. There has not been any real standout individual, though Rob Yates has had an amazing breakthrough year, but so many players have been there and stood up at important times.
“Huge credit goes to all the coaches who have been fantastic for us and also to Jim Troughton and Jeetan Patel who did so much to develop us in the previous years. So many people have had a hand in what we have achieved.”
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