THE CONTRACT EARNER
117* and 4-51 | Durham 2nd XI v Yorkshire 2nd XI, Bain Hogg Trophy, East Boldon, July 1995
I remember a second-team game at Boldon Cricket Club in Sunderland against Yorkshire and we were right up against it. I managed to score a hundred and see the team home, batting at No.7. I think it was that performance which pretty much got me my contract really, and it went on from there. To be awarded that county contract by Geoff Cook was a really big moment for me.
ON THE UP DOWN UNDER
Ryder Medal | Richmond CC, Victorian Premier Cricket, 2000/01
The 2001 county season was a breakthrough one for me and the reason for that was the confidence I gained from winning the Ryder Medal, which was the Player of the Season award, playing in Melbourne’s district competition for Richmond. I think I was the first Englishman to win the award and after winning it I thought, ‘Right, well if I can do that in Australia, against the Australians, then I should be able to go home and do the same there’. I’d had five mediocre years really in the first half of my career but I came back to England with more confidence than I’d ever had up to that point.
THE BREAKTHROUGH TOUR
56* | England v Zimbabwe, 5th ODI, Bulawayo, October 2001
Whatever level you play at you’ve got to get over the hurdle of the mental side of things and realise that you can do it at the level; that you’re able to perform. Until you score runs you’re never quite sure and I think the Zimbabwe trip where I managed to get runs in the last two ODIs gave me the confidence to kick on at international level. That was probably the first time where I thought, ‘Right, I belong here, I can do it’. I got 70-odd  in the fourth ODI and then got an unbeaten half-century [56*] in the final match of the series at Bulawayo to see us home.
THE ANGER GAMES
120* | England v Australia, CB Series 1st Final, February 2007
The 120 not out against Australia at the MCG was right up there in terms of my ODI performances. We’d been through what the England team has been through on this winter’s tour, losing 5-0. We were absolutely rock bottom but from somewhere we managed to fight back and win the CB Series. I remember getting throwdowns off Matthew Maynard in the nets and I was hitting them terribly and I started shouting at him. I can’t remember why, but I just started shouting at him and getting really angry. I decided when I got out to the middle that if it was in the slot, I would whack it. I just went back to basics; it was about aggression really. In amongst the method and the madness I started scoring runs again. I think I got five Man of the Match awards in a row, the last three games of the CB Series and then leading into the World Cup.
THE FIRST COUNTY SILVERWARE
22 and 3-33 | Durham v Hampshire, Friends Provident Trophy Final, Lord’s, August 2007
The Friends Provident win was such an important one for the club as a whole. I didn’t really feel part of that as an individual as much as I probably should have done because I was away with England a lot at the time, but for the club itself to win that game in such an aggressive manner was a fantastic achievement. The guys just absolutely loved the occasion and that first major trophy for the club was a huge hurdle to get over.
THE NAPIER BLITZ
54* | England v New Zealand, 4th ODI, Napier, February 2008
This was a fantastic match that ended in a tie with Luke Wright bowling the final over. I hit a fifty off 24 balls, which was the fastest half-century for England at the time, and that’s an innings I’ll always remember. I was always seen as a crabby, backs to the wall kind of batsman so to play like that and break the record gave me a lot of pleasure.
THE CAREER SAVER
4 & 135 | England v South Africa, 3rd Test, Edgbaston, July 2008
This is my No.1 on the list because this one innings bought me another few years of playing international cricket. It was absolutely 100 per cent that if I didn’t make runs in that innings then I was a goner. I just knew. I hadn’t played the Test match before – I’d been dropped for Darren Pattinson at Headingley – and that was the first time I’d been dropped for three or four years. At the start of my second innings I was hitting the ball like a child who’d just started playing cricket. I’d hit the very rock bottom and I couldn’t go any lower. I remember playing and missing at Kallis and just thinking, ‘What are you worried about? If it’s there, hit it’. When Paul Harris was bowling I decided that if it was outside off-stump then I was slog-sweeping it and if it was straight I was blocking it. I did that until I got into the nineties when I ran down the wicket and smashed him back over his head. From the depths of where I was to go and score that hundred, that was my most satisfying innings for England.
THE T20 TITLE WIN
12* | England v Australia, World Twenty20 Final, Bridgetown, May 2010
I don’t think you can describe the feeling of hitting the winning runs knowing that you’re going to get your hands on the trophy, get on that podium and start jumping up and down with all your teammates. As we got closer and closer to winning the tournament we just got better and better; it was one of those occasions where everything just felt right and to be captain of that team was so satisfying. I remember on the morning of the final shaking the mascot’s hand and asking her name. She turned round and said ‘Lucky’. I remember thinking, ‘That’s good enough for me! I think we’re going to win today…’
THE PERFECT FINALE
13 and 1-5 | England v Australia, 5th Test, Sydney, January 2011
This match just topped everything off. Sydney is a great ground and it was incredible to play my last Test there and go out on such a high. It was a very emotional week. I remember looking up at the English flags as we came out each morning knowing this was going to be my last Test match. The players didn’t know at that stage but Reg Dickason, our security officer, was a big factor in me telling them on the fourth morning. I just wanted to go after the match and say thanks very much but he said a lot of people would want to celebrate my career for one last day. I thought that was a good point and to get the reception that I did was absolutely fantastic.
THE SHOCK TITLE WIN
646 runs at 29.36 | County Championship, 2013
Last year’s Championship win was right up there with anything else I’ve achieved in the game because we didn’t have a lot of big-name players to call on. We had a lot of homegrown talent and players that nobody really knew and they all put their hands up during the season and put in big performances. We put a lot of teams under a lot of pressure right the way through the year and to win that game against Yorkshire at Scarborough… that was like Test cricket. It was as close to Test level as anything I’ve ever experienced in domestic cricket and better in fact than some of the cricket that I’d played for England. I knew once we won that game that we had the characters in that dressing room to go on and win the title.