It’s 10 years since the Bears’ T20 Blast win and we’re marking the anniversary by talking to some of the players involved in that memorable campaign.

Chris Woakes was released from England duty to spearhead Bears’ bowling attack for Finals Day 2014.

He would go on to triumph in the most famous final over in T20 Blast history. Flintoff v Woakes. England past v future. A fitting climax to an incredible campaign…

A photograph taken at Edgbaston Stadium on 16 April 2014 shows a smiling, 25-year-old Chris Woakes face-to-face with England hero Andrew Flintoff.

Freddie was on media duties, microphone in hand, for the official launch of that year’s NatWest T20 Blast.

One hundred and twenty-nine days later the two faced off again at Edgbaston in the final, decisive over of the competition in front of 25,000 fans. The stakes couldn’t have been much higher.

Woakes was still smiling.

“I might have been smiling on the outside, but inside my heart was pounding,” recalled Woakes as he watches back the final over on YouTube, ball by ball.

“I loved watching Freddie play, he was exciting. We just missed each other with England. He retired 2009, my debut was in 2011. So to come together at the end of the Blast was surreal.

“He’d come out of retirement to play. I don’t think he played the semi-final. He got Belly out with his first ball back and I’m thinking, oh no, it’s written in the stars for him to go out on a real high, to hit the winning runs.

“It would have been the perfect story for him. A fairytale ending.”

There would be no Freddie Fairytale as Woakes held his never on the biggest stage in domestic cricket.

In the summer of 2014, Woakes was a cricketer high on confidence.

He’d already won 19 England caps and had been selected in the national squad to face touring Sri Lanka and India parties.

“It was an exciting time for me,” he added. “I wouldn’t say I was established with England but I was starting to play more. I felt I was coming to a peak in terms of my performance, the way I felt, the way my body felt.

“I could dominate games, have a good impact on cricket matches. I was confident.

“In my early days I was a better red ball player. But I got my England chance first with the white ball. That exposure in international cricket gave me an idea what I needed to improve, a few changes to get a bit quicker, and it started to pay off.”

Woakes – who signed his first pro contract at Edgbaston aged 17 having progressed through the youth pathway – played in the IT20 curtain raiser against Sri Lanka on 20 May 2014 but didn’t feature again during the series.

England released him to play four Blast North Group games, notably taking two wickets at Derbyshire (27 June) and an unbeaten 17 to help Bears beat local rivals Worcestershire on 11 July.

He played in the final three Tests of the India series but, alongside Bears compatriot Ian Bell, was given leave to play Blast Finals Day on 23 August before returning for the ODI series starting two days later.

“As an England player, when you return to play for your county, there is extra pressure,” said Woakes, now 35, who’s taken 511 wickets and scored almost 5,000 runs for the Bears.

“The guys had won five on the bounce and players like Flash (Recordo Gordon) had done brilliantly. There’s certainly an argument for them to go on and take that form into Finals Day. You do feel some guilt at taking their place. But we had a close bond as a team, we all had each other’s backs.

“Surrey had a world class side but we knew we were a good side and could take on anyone. Purdy (Will Porterfield, 81 not out) got us to a good score. With the ball, we’re coming up against the likes of Jason Roy and Kevin Pietersen. But you have to put that to the back of your mind.

“I bowled perhaps my best ball of Finals Day, a yorker (recorded at 89mph) that hit Azhar Mahmood’s leg stump after he’d shuffled across his crease.

“Varun Chopra almost took my eye out after that! Everyone comes over to high five me, Chops missed my hand, and his nail left a gash under my eye. It was a decent cut but didn’t need stitches. You can see it during the final.”

Woakes followed his two semi-final wickets with two more against Lancashire in the final.

He tucked up opener Tom Smith who skied an edge to Laurie Evans, then in commentator Nasser Hussain’s words delivered the “perfect yorker to dismiss the dangerman” Karl Brown who was well set on 55.

And it was yorkers that Woakes would turn to in his final over showdown.

He said: “It’s a good delivery to have in the locker. But it’s risky because if you’re slightly off it becomes a very easy ball to hit. Some days you feel you’re getting the length spot on, hitting the crease line with every delivery, and others you never feel you’re getting it there.

“It happened with OHD in the penultimate over. Olly missed his last two yorkers by a fraction. That’s the difference between it being in the block hole or over the boundary rope.  

“I spoke to Chops before the last over. They needed 14. Freddie was pumped. If a team needs double figures, just don’t go for boundaries. And if you do, it can’t be a six, that kills you. We decided on six yorkers. If I execute well, it’s hard to score boundaries.

“Bowling against Flintoff, the pressure builds. As I’m running in I’m thinking ‘it’s fate he’d do it to go out on a high’.

“But I was clear what I wanted to do. I was in a confident space mentally. The important thing is not to change your mind, almost like stepping forward to take a penalty, don’t switch at the last second.

“I think of the six there are a couple I’d like to have back again, that I didn’t quite get right. But that’s the nature of the game. You rarely get six perfect so to have four where I wanted, I was happy with that.”

Woakes delivered with four runs to spare.

And as fireworks fizzed into the Birmingham night sky, he recalled the first time he stepped out to play for the Bears at Edgbaston.

“It was always the dream to play on the hallowed turf here at Edgbaston,” added the father-of-two, “even just once or twice, let alone an 18-year career. I just wanted to wear the badge and play here.

“That 2014 final was one of my favourite moments in a Bears shirt. Not because I was bowling the final over, but what it meant to the Club, with that group of players, players I’ve shared a dressing room with for years. Memories we’ll be talking about for years to come.

“You want to be in those moments. To be the guy who can deliver a final over win. You don’t want to ruin it for your teammates. A lot of T20 games come down to the last over. I’d had a pretty good day, but I could have easily ruined that, ruined a whole campaign, by bowling two or three bad balls.

“I wasn’t thinking about myself. I’m thinking about what means it meant to the team to lift that trophy, on our home ground, in front of our home fans, friends and family in the stands. Thankfully we did it.

“It was such a great day for me, the club. An incredible time to be a Bear and I was grateful to be part of it. Ten years on, maybe it’ll be our year again.”

Four Teams. Two Matches. Blast Off is back!

Vitality Blast Off is back and the Bears will launch their home T20 campaign with a huge men’s double-header featuring two big Midlands rivalry games.

Taking place on Saturday 1 June, Derbyshire Falcons host Leicestershire Foxes (2.30pm) before the Bears take on Notts Outlaws (6.30pm). Buy tickets in advance and save.

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