How will you look back on this season when you led Sussex to the County Championship?
Winning the title felt like winning a marathon. It has been a tough challenge, physically and mentally, especially when you consider that every game bar one had something riding on it because we were involved in every competition up to the wire. But of course we have been successful, which is the more important way to look back.
What have been the key moments?
Obviously, winning the C&G final was one; the moment when James Kirtley took the last of his five wickets to win the game will live with me until I die. I look back also on a young lad called Carl Hopkinson getting 60-odd against Hampshire to get us to the final. In the Championship, Rana Naved coming in and doing the business in the first part of the season, before the wickets started to help Mushtaq Ahmed, was vital. In replacing Rana with Yasir Arafat, again we selected brilliantly.
How much do nerves play a part when the winning post is in sight?
The penultimate game, against Kent at Canterbury, was very nervous. In 2003 we went up to Lancashire in the last but one game needing 11 points to be certain of winning the title and nerves got the better of us. It was a similar situation against Kent but thankfully we managed to get over the line - just.
How good is this team compared with the 2003 side?
There are similarities. Mushtaq once again has 100 wickets and Murray Goodwin has scored a lot of runs. His total of 1,649 runs is comparable with Mark Ramprakash's 2,200 for Surrey when you look at the standard in Division One compared with Division Two. Matt Prior has developed from a very promising wicketkeeper-batsman in 2003 to the best wicketkeeper-batsman in the country. The biggest difference is that we have another overseas player, in Rana, so we are perhaps a bit more potent with the new ball.
Do you think Sussex can sustain their success?
We have already secured Mushy and Rana for next year. I think at least for the next two years this side can stay together. But we know that James Kirtley and Jason Lewry cannot go on forever and that batsmen like myself, Goodwin and Richard Montgomerie are not getting any younger.
Is it true you plan to stand down as captain at the end of next season?
I'm not looking beyond next season. It is a little out of my hands anyway, because it is in the club's constitution that they appoint the captain every year. I've had nine fantastic years as captain and I don't want to outstay my welcome. I played under Kim Barnett at Derby and while he did a terrific job he did it for 15 years and it was obvious he had gone on too long.
Did you have an idea of what would make a good captain when you were appointed? Do you have a different opinion now?
I played under two captains at Derbyshire, Kim Barnett and latterly Dean Jones. Both had very good qualities and both had flaws. What I tried to do is draw on their good qualities and be conscious to avoid falling into their flaws. But when you start in the job you realise you have your own flaws and it is imperative you have someone you can trust who can highlight those flaws.
Has the way you captain the side changed in nine years?
When I came here I was the best player in the side and I had to lead by example.Now I am clearly no longer the best player in the side. There are players with much greater ability and it is important to make sure I allow them to lead from the front, as Mushtaq and Goodwin have.
Did you have a vision when you became captain? I said I wanted the club to be the Manchester United of cricket butthe reality is that I don't think the club will ever become a giant like that. We are a smaller county. People describe it as punching above our weight, and I don't like that, but in terms of finance we are always going to have to run it on a shoestring budget, although that is a positive thing in some ways because we don't attract too many big-time players and the environment we have created allows us to make special the pulling on of the shirt.
How disappointed were you that your Test career did not develop further?
I had immense pride at being selected to play Test cricket. But I was in a very tough series [in South Africa in 1999-2000] against a very good side and my technique got shown up. I wasn't good enough, simple as that. But I was very lucky to have the opportunity so it would be wrong to hold a feeling of disappointment. If I played again now, which is not going to happen, I'd like to think my technique would stand up and my temperament would be better.
You have played for England, won trophies with Sussex and scored centuries against every first-class county. Is there anything in the game you would still like to achieve? I've gone past 18,000 runs and I'd like to get to 20,000. I'm on 45 centuries and would like 50. As a legacy, I'd like to leave behind a future for the club rather than a era that is coming to an end.
What do you think you might have done had you not made the grade at cricket?
I'd like to think I could have played football but the boys would say I was having a laugh. Watching Darren Clarke get the ovation he did, playing in the Ryder Cup, I felt that golf is the only sport I would happily trade mine for.
What do you want to do after you finish playing?
I was interviewed for the chief executive's job at Sussex, in the hope that I could do the job while continuing to play. I got down to the final three. I think my skills lie in management and leadership and developing other people's skills. I am doing my ECB Level Four coaching badge.
What is the last book you read?
Everyone in the dressing room seemed to have a copy of The Da Vinci Code. I read it and loved it and bought all of Dan Brown's books and got through them in about a month.
What do you do to relax?
The kids take up pretty much all of my spare time. Georgia is captain of her netball team at school. She is 13 and following in the sport mode of her dad. Sophie, who is eight, is more like her mum, pure pink and Barbie dolls.
What are your plans for the winter? I've got my final year of Level Four to do and there is the potential to go to the Ashes with a travel company. There is also the possibility of going to Jamaica with Lashings and to Dubai with the Lord's Taverners.
What are England's chances, realistically, of retaining the Ashes?
If I didn't say they were good I'd be shot down in flames but I think Australia really want it bad and in their own back yard they will be very difficult to beat. But England have come a long way. Like the rest of the country I was totally consumed with the Ashes last year and this winter will not be any different. I'd like to think we can retain it but I think we might have to by drawing the series.Reuse content