That old saying, “You never know what you’ve got till it’s gone” came to mind when I signed a new three-year contract at Durham before our County Championship game at Somerset this week.
There’s no better feeling than signing for your home county club.
I feel very proud and fortunate to be in the position I find myself in now, and even more so whenI think about how I came toreach it.
I had been part of Durham’s academy for several years when they decided to let me go at the end of the 2007 season.
I’d like to say that after going back into local cricket, playing for Sunderland in the North East Premier League, I never gave up hope of playing the First-Class game again. But after a few trials didn’t materialise into anything I did start to think that my future in the game would be at club rather than county level.
Back then, there wasn’t a Unicorns team to help people in that position get back into the professional game.
Thankfully, though, Durham were willing to give me a second chance.
After a few good years at club level, in 2009 they offered me a four-month trial. I performed pretty well for the second team, who at that time were coached by Jon Lewis.
So for Jon to be the first-team coach when I signed this three-year extension was a nice touch.
The two years I was away from the professional game made me realise how much I wanted to be a First-Class cricketer, and I’ve worked incredibly hard over the last four or five years to make the most of this opportunity.
Signing this new deal has given me great pleasure because all the hard work has paid off.
I just hope the next three years progress the same way the last three have, and that my story can give inspiration to any youngsters who have been released by their counties.
Yesterday was a tough one for us bowlers, with Jamie Harrison, Mark Wood and Scott Borthwick all unable to bowl on the final day, and Marcus Trescothick in terrific form for Somerset.
Unfortunately we suffered our first defeat of the County Championship season.
With Somerset needing another 136 to win and Trescothick settled at the crease, we all felt it would be tough when we came to the ground yesterday morning, even without a couple of the guys pulling up injured.
It meant a few extra overs for myself in tricky conditions, but you just had to hold your hand up and say what a great innings it was by Trescothick to score 133. It was one of the best I’ve seen, and certainly played against.
When you’re bowling it’s not very nice come up against him on that sort of form. You just can’t bowl to him really and he hit me for a couple of sixes.
He hits the ball where he wants and he hits it so cleanly for such a big guy.
It shows you’ve got to be on top of your game in Division One of the Championship.
We’ll have a day off today to recover and spend a bit of time with our families before getting on the bus to travel to Nottingham tomorrow for our next match.
It will be a new game for us and a different challenge but the mood will hopefully be lifted by the return of Ben Stokes.
Ben has been playing in the second team this week as he recovers from the wrist he broke while in the West Indies with England in March. With any luck he should be back with the first team at the weekend.
Ben has been tremendous for us over the last couple of years so it will be great for us to have him back. It might only be for a couple of games if things go well for him but it will certainly lift spiritsfor us.
Trent Bridge is normally nice to bowl on, especially for swing bowlers like myself, so hopefully that will be the case.
It’s about time we had a whole game in helpful conditions!