Rob Yates believes the character that Warwickshire showed to escape relegation on the final day of the 2022 season is "great testament to the future" for their squad.
Bears’ stunning five-run win over Hampshire preserved their Division One status at the last gasp and supplied a jubilant end to a difficult season at Edgbaston.
Fast bowler Liam Norwell rightly took most headlines for his brilliant nine-for, but batter Yates was also integral to the great escape. Restored to his favoured spot at the top of the order, the 23-year-old scored a superb first innings century without which Norwell would have had nothing to bowl at on that mesmeric final day.
It was heartwarming for the Bears fans to see home-grown Yates return to form after his personally challenging season. He reckons the strength of mind shown by all the players to close out that incredible win under the most intense pressure just shows what they are capable of.
“It was an incredible day,” Yates said. “It was different to the last day last year when we won the title because then we had nothing to lose and everything to gain. This time we had everything to lose and I think the way we came through – everyone, not just the bowlers – is a sign of real character and great testament for the future. I’m really excited about next season with the Bears. Hopefully we can build on the things we did well, because there were things we did well, and improve in the areas where necessary.
“It was nice for me to get a century in the bag, better late than never. It felt like me batting again – nothing too complicated. A lot of work went into that innings. It was a tough season but hopefully I’ve come out the other side now and taken all the leanings and it will be a springboard for a good future.
“Of course, it was especially pleasing that it helped to set up such a fantastic win. The last day was one I’ll never forget.
“I think at the start of the day everyone believed we could do it. We wanted a 200 lead, not 130, but in that situation you can’t think about what might have happened. You just have to take what’s in front of you and believe you are going to go out and do it, whatever the numbers.
“When Olly Hannon-Dalby took the first wicket we were looking at each other and thinking ‘this is on.’ Then Liam started blowing them away and with each wicket the belief just grew and grew. They had a little partnership at one point, Gubbins and Fuller, but we knew if we could get one of those, we were right in their tail and Liam kept going brilliantly. It was just amazing to watch and be part of.”
Yates now intends to build on his return to form during a winter down under after he flies out to Western Australia on Sunday to link up with Bayswater Morley CC.
“I can’t wait to get out there now that autumn has arrived over here,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a great club, which Henry Brookes and Olly Stone have been to before, and hopefully I will be out there until March.
“I’ll train with them twice a week and also train on my own, hit when I want and bowl when I want. I’ll rest up a bit and relax and I also need to get my English degree completed, I’ve got two more modules to finish before March.
“The cricket will be of a high standard so that will be a good test for me and great prep for the 2023 season. I’m really excited to get cracking with the Bears again and hopefully will go into next season on the back of a good winter with plenty of runs and matches down under.”
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