Finch: Talk of pizzas and jewellery helped me to my special Sussex ton

Even with time to reflect it's hard for me to put into words what it felt like to score my first Championship hundred in the win against Middlesex, writes Harry Finch.

Harry Finch / Picture by PW Sporting Photography
Harry Finch / Picture by PW Sporting Photography

Pride, pure happiness and a fair bit of a relief is about the best I can do in summing it up. It was made all the more special by the fact we managed to wrap up a memorable victory on the final day

We were in a bit of trouble when I came in at nine for two and a couple more wickets went down soon after, but I felt very solid during the hour or so I was in on the first evening. That night, I remember feeling like I was going to get runs the next day.

Ollie Robinson was with me in the middle as I approached the landmark the next afternoon. You couldn’t ask for a better partner for keeping you calm.

He’s very relaxed and we talked about the everything apart from cricket: the pizza we’d had to celebrate his seven wickets the day before and a new bracelet he was wearing.

I was aware I’d made a new Championship highest score when I went past 82, but otherwise I was just focussing on each ball and making sure I didn’t change things just because of the situation. The first time I really felt any proper nerves was when I was on 99.

That partially explains the relief when the hundred came up, but it was about so much more than that. Being totally honest, a big part of it was finally feeling like I belong as a professional.

I think that, until they make their first big score, all batsmen have that little bit of self-doubt, but when it happens you suddenly think: “I’m meant to do this.”

When I got back to the dressing room, I got a brilliant reception from the team. My phone was already buzzing with messages. A lot of former team-mates, people like Matt Machan, Chris Nash, Ed Joyce and Lewis Hatchett had been in touch and the WhatsApp group I’ve got with some mates from Eastbourne College was buzzing with congratulations (apart from my West Brom-supporting mate who, after they had beaten my beloved Spurs, simply said ‘hard luck’!). It’s a reminder of all the people who’ve stuck with you as you make your way as a cricketer.

No-one has done more for me than my family, so it was brilliant to have my mum and my nan watching at the ground. I always seem to get runs when my mum comes to watch, so I’m very pleased the club have installed a brand-new viewing area for players’ family and friends!

My dad wasn’t there as he was captaining Mayfield in the Sussex Cricket League, but a team-mate of his, Andy Cornford, who coached me as a junior, told me he didn’t stop smiling all afternoon, and not just because he got some runs himself! Dad has played a massive role in my career and I’m sure we will have a beer at his local to toast our runs.

The win against Middlesex was followed by a defeat in another tight game at Kent. It would have been great to string wins together, but the jam-packed cricket season means you don’t get too long to dwell on past performances, whether they’re good or bad. All the lads are really enjoying their cricket and the atmosphere in the camp is brilliant as we head into the one-day tournament.