Dermot Reeve admits that his emotions ran very high on his return to Edgbaston last week.
Warwickshire supporters were delighted to see former Bears captain Reeve, who took part in a members’ Q & A along with fellow 1990s hero Asif Din, back at the ground where he orchestrated the team to such glory.
The all-rounder was club captain when the all-conquering Bears won five trophies in 1994 and 1995, including successive County Championship triumphs.
It felt wonderful and very emotional to be back,” he said. “I was quite tearful when I got off the train at New Street and walked along New Street, hearing all the Birmingham accents. I have so many special memories.Dermot Reeve
Those triumphs were powered in part by great overseas players, of course – the brilliant batting of Brian Lara in ’94 and the explosive fast-bowling of Allan Donald in ’95.
But as Reeve reflects upon that sensational era, he is quick to flag up that it was the combined effort of the whole squad that powered it.
“It was a real collective effort,” he said. “When I was captain I really didn’t worry about whether we won or lost – I just wanted us all to do our best. Then winning and losing takes care of itself.
“We ended up with a very talented but also really happy bunch of guys who bought into the positive culture that Bob Woolmer created. It was a culture of getting the best out of every player. Every player has a unique skill-set and our job, whether as captain or coach, is to help that player get the best out of himself.
“Bob’s greatest asset was that he was such a happy, jolly person. He loved cricket and always had a smile on his face. He kept it all light-hearted but had loads of ideas and worked really hard with players.
“It was a case of always encouraging each other 100 per cent. If someone drops a catch, he doesn’t mean to. There’s no point getting angry or blaming. Instead you go the other way and become super-encouraging and say ‘I’m going to be the guy that encourages the most.
“Everyone plays their best cricket when they are relaxed and enjoying it and to do that you need encouragement from your team-mates; a culture of no blame and 100 per cent encouragement. That’s what we had.”
Reeve is spending part of the summer in England during the close-season in Australia where he coaches Subiaco Floreat in Perth’s western suburbs. Before this week’s Specsavers County Championship game with Lancashire, he spoke to the Bears’ squad – and just loved being back at the stadium at which he helped carve out such history.
“It felt wonderful and very emotional to be back,” he said. “I was quite tearful when I got off the train at New Street and walked along New Street, hearing all the Birmingham accents. I have so many special memories.
It’s wonderful to see what a fantastic ground Edgbaston is now, a complete stadium with a wonderful viewing area and players facilities which are state-of-the-art.Dermot Reeve
“It’s wonderful to see what a fantastic ground Edgbaston is now, a complete stadium with a wonderful viewing area and players facilities which are state-of-the-art. The old pavilion was a bit ramshackle – but, having said that, you had your locker and chair in the dressing-room there and somewhere to hang your clothes and it has so many really happy memories for me.
“I think we can all be very proud of what we achieved in that era. That 94 season could be the greatest season any side has had in any sport and then to back it up the following year, even with a change of personnel with Brian Lara and Roger Twose going and Nick Knight and Allan Donald coming in, and win the championship again was pretty special. There was real belief in what we were doing.
“Brian was the best batsman I ever saw play and A.D was just brilliant. The love that the other players had for A.D was amazing. At times in the changing-room he would be a bit tired and the boys would go ‘come on Al, come on AD, give us another spell’ and he’d say ‘I’m a bit tired’ and they’d say ‘you can do it’ and he’d say ‘okay, okay, I’ll do it’ and we’d get that energy going again.
“There was a great energy about the team and we all fed off it. They were very special times.”