Chris Rushworth: Proving Durham critics wrong made win extra special

Chris Rushworth explains how proving Durham's doubters wrong made the County Championship win extra special

Durham captain Paul Collingwood and team celebrate winning the LV County Championship Division One title

As a sportsman, it motivates you when people are writing you off and saying the team you play for is not good enough.

At the start of the year Durham were being tipped for relegation, so it made it even more satisfying when we were celebrating winning our third County Championship at Chester-le-Street last week.

We knew we were capable of a mid-table finish, maybe a little bit better, and we wanted to prove the pundits wrong.

We’ve been able to show everybody we have the ability to win a Championshipand that was very satisfying.

As with all title-winning sides, the character within the dressing room was a big factor in getting us over the line this year.

Our season got off to a great start with a win against Somerset early in the year and the lads were full of confidence.

We had a few setbacks after that, losing to Warwickshire and Yorkshire, but even after those results we never really felt down.

There was no negativity and throughout the season the changing room was a nice place to be.

We bounced back from those two early defeats and were second in the table going into the Twenty20 Cup section of the season.

It helps Paul Collingwood is a very positive and upbeat captain.

He’s a chirpy character, but so are the coaches and most of the players as well.

We’re all good mates, which is what you need when things get tough.

When you play in Division One of the Championship you know you’re going to be up against some of the best cricketers in the country – and at times the world – so you have to accept you’re not going to win every game.

That Yorkshire game at Chester-le-Street was a classic example. If it hadn’t been for the brilliance of Joe Root we would have won.

Another big factor was the way we finished last season, winning five of our last six matches to comfortably avoid relegation.

It gave us the self-belief to take setbacks in our stride.

We had another at Lord’s in August. Our defeat to Middlesex started a run of four defeats in five matches in all competitions which cost us a place in the semi-finals of both limited-overs competitions.

Everyone will admit we did not play well at Lord’s, but since then we have won every four-day game, setting a new club record for five straight Championship wins.

To respond so well to such a heavy defeat shows what good team spirit we have.

When we beat Yorkshire, who went into the game 25.5 points clear at the top of the league, at Scarborough it gave us real belief we could win Durham’s third Championship.

Having a very close game at home to Warwickshire go our way was important too.

I said before the start of the season what a great year 2012 had been for me after establishing myself in the side in all forms of cricket and the birth of my first child Henry.

Well, things have just kept going!

I will look back on my 2013 season with huge satisfaction after achieving my goal of 50 Championship wickets and being part of a title-winning side.

I had my own tough spell around May when I was rested from the side but every game I’ve played has been a highlight.

I don’t know where I’m going to go from here but my aim will be to sustain a consistent level of performance.

When you look at the make-up of our side, there’s every reason to believe it’s going to get stronger.

Our coach Geoff Cook mentioned last week that if you take the likes of Colly, Phil Mustard (left) and Graham Onions out of the side there aren’t many lads with a lot of experience.

Winning games of cricket with such an inexperienced side was a big achievement.

So far we’ve won ten in the Championship this season but we’re determined to add to it at Hove this week.

No Durham side have ever won six Championship games in a row and no First Division team has ever had 11 victories in a season.

Whenever you get on the field you want to win and now we have proved the doubters wrong setting new records is driving us on this week.

This is my last column of the season. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it.

It’s been great to be able to tell you about such a good season for the team and me personally.

Thanks to everyone who has got behind Durham in 2013.

Winning the County Championship trophy at Chester-le-Street last week was extra special because it meant we were able to share the moment with so many happy fans.

The support we have had on the road this season has been great too and an important factor in our four away wins.

I hope to see you all back at Chester-le-Street next season for more of the same!

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