Darren Maddy was “hugely delighted” to be part of Warwickshire’s 2012 championship-winning team – but will demand a bigger contribution from himself next year.
The veteran all-rounder was a major component of the Bears’ success last season, figuring in 14 championship matches as well as most of their one-day cricket.
His input was wide-ranging with runs, wickets and catches in the slip-cordon. And Maddy featured in what was perhaps the most significant passage of play in the whole season. His 112 against Lancashire at Liverpool in April arrived in an eighth-wicket stand of 224 with Rikki Clarke which turned apparently inevitable defeat into the platform for a stunning victory.
On a difficult pitch prepared to suit bowlers, that partnership sits proudly among the best ever built on behalf of the Bears. It not only expedited a remarkable win but injected belief into the side that no cause was ever lost – a fighting spirit which was to underpin their advance to the title.
Maddy’s ton was his first since a cruel succession of injuries sidelined him for much of three seasons. When he reached it, the ovation from the players’ balcony said everything about the esteem in which he is held by his team-mates.
But though he was to contribute usefully at times over the following months, further big innings eluded him. He ended the season with only 473 championship runs at 24.89 and, having signed a contract extension to keep him at Edgbaston next year, Maddy intends to beef up his batting stats again.
“I am hugely satisfied to have been part of a winning team,” he said. “The team always comes first and if you had said to me at the start of the season I would play 14 championship games in a title-winning side then I would have bitten your hand off. I am very grateful to have been given that opportunity but I look back with mixed emotions. I would have liked to score more runs and led from the front more. I got about five 40s in the championship and didn’t convert them which is something I have to work on.
“I still feel I can play this game. I had a lean spell in the championship after the Twenty20 and got into a couple of bad habits but in the last game at Nottinghamshire felt as though I was playing as well as I played all season.
“The century at Liverpool was certainly the highlight, getting my first hundred in a couple of seasons at a time when our backs were really up against the wall. It helped us win a game which sort of ignited our season because to beat the reigning champions in those conditions was a huge ask.
“Also, we hadn’t beaten Lancashire for a number of years so that really installed belief that we could beat any team on any surface.
“I played other innings from which I got satisfaction even though I didn’t make it to 100. I featured in a few key partnerships which changed the shape of innings and allowed the later batsmen below to come in and score runs,
“I haven’t got the high scores I wanted but do feel I contributed, even if it was just going in at a difficult time near the end of play when we were two or three down and seeing it through to stumps.”
Maddy’s 2012 championship-winner’s medal with the Bears now sits alongside the two he won with Leicestershire early in his career in 1996 and 1998 when the competition consisted of just one division.
While in no way belittling the Foxes’ triumphs, he reckons he is able to appreciate this latter one a little bit more.
“My first two championship wins came very early in my career so I sort of presumed that was a natural way of life,” he said. “Fourteen years later I get to win my third and now I have a lot more respect for what it takes to win the title; all the many hours of training and practice that go towards it and all the hard work that we started back way in November.
“To win the title has always been hard, whether one division or two. It is fiercely competitive with the two divisions and you could argue that it is more competitive now but they were great achievements back then with Leicestershire too and I am also proud to have been part of them.”
Next season, while Maddy faces his personal improvement mission, Warwickshire must grapple with the challenges of retaining the title. This year Lancashire found out that the season after winning the championship can be hazardous. They had a terrible time of it and were relegated.
“We want to defend our title,” said Maddy. “We can’t take anything for granted. We have to keep our standards high and I think this club and the management here will definitely do that.
“The T20 is also still one for us to tick off. We have come close in the four years I have been here but not got to where we should be so that’s one objective for next year.”
• After all the hard work came the glamour for Warwickshire’s cricketers on Wednesday when they visited Buckingham Palace for the traditional champions greeting from the Duke of Edinburgh.
After winning the title for only the seventh time in the club’s history, the Bears collected the cherished championship pennant from ECB chief executive David Collier at a lunch at the Lord’s Taverners.
Then it was all round to the Palace to meet the Duke, a lifelong cricket-lover.
“The Duke was in good form and socialised with us, which was nice.” said opening batsman Varun Chopra.
“It was a great day and just made us want to do it again next year.’’