Dougie Brown’s Warwickshire playing career was immense – uniquely so, in a way, as he is the only man to have been part of three Bears championship-winning sides.
The all-rounder stands high in the Bears’ history-books among the most productive and popular players to have represented the club. His career was mighty – and it enjoyed a mighty springboard when he made his county championship debut in July 1994 just as Warwickshire’s charge to the historic treble was gathering momentum.
"If Surrey had won, they would have been miles in front of us but the win catapulted us right up close to them – and we never looked back."
In mid-July ’94, the Bears were starting to look like serious contenders for the championship title. Since a home draw with Durham (not much to write about from that one…) three successive wins had lifted them to second in the table, behind Surrey.
Next up, Surrey away, at Guildford – and with Dermot Reeve and Gladstone Small injured, 24-year-old seam-bowling all-rounder Brown was added to the squad.
Was he fazed? Not at all.
“It was a brilliant environment for young players to come into,” recalls Brown, “because not only were the senior players very good cricketers but they were really supportive of the young guys coming through.
“In a way, the pressure was off the younger guys because there were so many fine players in the team. In another way that put you under a good pressure because you wanted to prove yourself in that company and show you could contribute and that you belonged among them.
“Bob Woolmer and Dermot Reeve were great motivators. They were great at pumping you up and making you feel like you were the best player in the world. You weren’t, of course, and any areas for improvement soon got picked up and worked on, but to go out on the field with that sort of positivity behind you was fantastic.
“Guildford was usually a pretty flat wicket but when we got down there we discovered this time it was green, so I got the nod over Dicky Davis, the second spinner. We batted first and were in a bit of trouble but I went in to join Pop Welch, another of the younger guys, and we just enjoyed ourselves. Pop played one or two shots and I thought ‘if he can do it, I can do it’ so that freed me up to do the same and we put on 110.
“That gave us a decent total and then, as so often happened in ’94, someone came up with what was needed. Surrey were going well but then Roger Twose had Alec Stewart strangled down the leg side. Twosey then proceeded to swing the ball over the place and took out their much-vaunted top order.
“In the second innings, Andy Moles batted forever [203 in 562 minutes], a very patient innings you could call it, and then Tim Munton and Neil Smith bowled them out. It was an incredible game to make my debut in because I was proud enough just to play a first-team game, never mind it being in such an important win. If Surrey had won, they would have been miles in front of us but the win catapulted us right up close to them – and we never looked back.”
The Bears’ charge continued in the next game, a 203-run win over Essex at Edgbaston, and the next, a 139-run victory over Derbyshire at Chesterfield.
Brown contributed plenty on his home debut against Essex, scoring useful lower-order runs and taking four for 25 in the second innings. He then took a minor role at Queens Park where the Bears’ win owed much to the dazzling quality of Brian Lara. He scored 142 on an opening day on which 16 wickets fell on a green pitch.
“Against Essex the ball nibbled about all through the game but Brian batted exceptionally to give us a flying start and then I managed to get a few wickets in the second innings,” Brown said. “Again it was a great thrill just to make my home debut and then even more so to be part of another really convincing team performance.
“Then at Chesterfield, Brian played an amazing innings. For me, it was the highlight of the season. People talk about his 501 but at Chesterfield, in difficult conditions with Devon Malcolm and Dominic Cork steaming in on a fast wicket, Brian was just brilliant.
“Malcolm was charging in and bowling faster and faster and Brian was hitting him harder and harder. At one stage, Derbyshire had four men on the leg-side boundary but Brian was still finding the gaps.”
From the elegant Queen’s Park pavilion, the young Brown just watched and enjoyed. With three matches under his belt, he was left out for the next game as Dermot Reeve returned after injury. But Brown’s momentous Warwickshire career had taken root – in the most fertile of terrain.
“It was an amazing time to be starting a career,” he said. “The senior players inspired you and challenged you. They encouraged you on occasions and would also take the mickey royally on others but it was all done respectfully. It was a buoyant environment and a privilege to be part of.”
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