There is only one place to start when it comes to picking the favourite memory from my cricket career: the 2010-11 Ashes series in Australia.
A few years out from the tour I was miles off being a part of England’s Test team Down Under. I had been involved in previous England squads but was struggling with injuries and felt like my career was drifting at Hampshire.
To kick-start it and get the selectors’ attention I decided I needed a change, so I moved to Surrey at the end of the 2009 season.
I had seen the likes of Tim Bresnan, Graham Onions and Ajmal Shahzad doing well for England and I thought I could do better.
It proved to be a perfect move, as I found a new lease of life at the Oval. I steered clear of injuries in the 2010 season and took 48 wickets in the County Championship, as well as plenty in the one-day and Twenty20 competitions, to earn myself a place on the Ashes tour.
Pace and bounce
My return to form was well-timed. The fast bouncy wickets in Australia obviously suited a bowler of my pace and height, so I had an advantage over those I was competing with for the third fast bowler spot.
I performed well in the warm-up matches and, although I was not bowling as fast as when I was younger, I felt confident and had no fears about coming into what turned out to be one of England’s best ever sides.
Australia were still a good team but Ricky Ponting was the only batsman who carried a fear factor. I’d played against a lot of them in county cricket, so I felt no negativity, unlike in my previous stints in One-Day Internationals in 2005 and on Test debut in 2007.
After the draw in the opening Test in Brisbane, where Andrew Strauss, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott piled on the runs, and then a brilliant win in Adelaide, I got my chance.
Stuart Broad tore a side muscle in the second Test and I was fortunate that the next match was in Perth, on one of the bounciest pitches in the world. Although we lost, I took eight wickets in the match and kept my place for what would be the best two games of my career.
Winning Down Under
Everything about the series-clinching wins in the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and then in Sydney were wonderful for me and the team, but there are two moments which stand out.
The first is the ball I dismissed Shane Watson with in the fourth Test. Phillip Hughes had smacked me for a few boundaries in my first over and the sound off the bat and the atmosphere of 95,000 people reacting was something I had never heard before.
The pressure was on, but I returned and found some bounce to have Watson caught in the gully off the glove. The wicket really set the tone and we went on to roll them out for 98 and win the Test by an innings and 157 runs.
I took the final wicket to secure the series 3-1 on day five in Sydney, but in truth by then I was jaded and tired and, because victory was inevitable, the crowd wasn’t as big.
Johnson wicket stands out
It was a brilliant, surreal moment and one I can still picture now, but the day before stands out even more.
We were marching towards the win in a brilliant atmosphere provided by the Barmy Army when Mitchell Johnson came to the crease in Australia’s second innings.
He was under so much pressure and I bowled a good 90mph ball first up to knock back his off-stump and put me on a hat-trick. It was such a great feeling which I’ll never forget.
Overall I took 17 wickets in three matches at an average of 23.35 to help England win the Ashes. It’s something I’m hugely proud of and something I will certainly tell the grandkids about in the future.