Early in the morning of the last day of the 2021 County Championship season, as Warwickshire prepared to press for glory against Somerset, lots of thoughts from lots of people centred on what might unfold at Edgbaston.
Could the Bears do it?
From Birmingham to Brisbane, from Coventry to Cape Town, from Aldridge to Arbroath and from Warwick to Wellington, their fans were wondering…could they do it?
At Edgbaston, the Bears players arrived determined to do it.
“It was a special feeling turning up at the ground that day knowing what we could achieve,” says Dom Sibley. “Going into that last day, although the cards seemed stacked against us, I had a feeling we would do it,” recalls Rob Yates.
As the team prepared before play, meanwhile, two of its key members found time to reflect.
Liam Norwell and Craig Miles go back a long way. They emerged as young players at Gloucestershire together and went on to lead the red ball seam attack at Bristol together. Then they moved to Warwickshire at the same time, having arrived separately at the same conclusion – that their ambitions to win trophies would be better served at Edgbaston.
The 2021 season totally vindicated their move. And the pair’s input to the championship triumph – a combined 86 wickets at 19.79 apiece – totally vindicated the Bears’ decision to sign them.
“Our careers have gone side by side,” said Norwell. “I actually got my trial game at Gloucestershire after playing in a match against Craig and he made his debut for them because I got a stress fracture in my back. Then we had a few performances together. We put on a winning partnership and took some wickets.
“Then came the move to Warwickshire. We never actually spoke about coming to the Bears together but we were both looking at our options and just happened to come to the same conclusion and the same place.
“It has worked out brilliantly. Before the start of play on day four of the Somerset game we had five minutes and chatted and said this was the reason we left Gloucestershire. We loved the lads there and have great memories of the club and will always wish it well but, with the greatest respect, we didn’t feel this was ever going to be a reality there, going down to the last day of the season with a chance to the championship.Liam Norwell
“We just had that moment of realisation that our decisions and all the sacrifices from ourselves and our families, like me moving my family up and Craig moving up with his girlfriend, were worth it. Even if we hadn’t won, we said the fact that we were in the position on the last day to win the trophy made everything all worthwhile.”
They did win…and that triumph has brought much joy to many people – a joy which has perhaps been even more welcome and deeply felt after such a strange and difficult couple of years.
“To share this season and that last day with Craig, a mate who I have spent my whole professional career with, was special,” said Norwell. “But then this whole bunch of lads at Warwickshire, and the people around them, are special and I am very happy and grateful to be among them.”
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