Yorkshire had so much quality and players like Batty had to go
Ifell in love with the game in the classic way. My dad played for his local club and I loved going down and watching him, I learned so much in those early years.
I took a different route to most because I did not play a lot of age-group stuff. I started at U15 and I had no real thoughts of playing professionally.
I was curious about how good I could be.Yorkshire opened one of the first academies and I grew into it. I played every day and when they offered me a route in I was thinking about being a fireman or something normal so it came at the right time.
We had a very competitive 2nd XI, people like Gareth Batty and Richard Kettleborough left to go elsewhere – it was top quality.
My debut was in 1997 versus Lancashire and I made a few and, although I did not play for the rest of the season, I was scoring heavily in the 2nd XI and my chance came the following year.
I made a hundred early which helped and that gave me the belief I could do it at that level.
I had a lot of great times. I scored a hundred in the Championship-winning game against Glamorgan at Scarborough, the morning after Simon Jones sent me to hospital with a sharp delivery which got through the grille. It was perfect.
I had some great seasons and some mediocre ones but 2003 was when I played my best. I got nearly 1,500 runs that summer.
However, such was the strength of the side back then, I was almost dropped after I had bagged a pair at Leeds against Durham.
I was really up against it for the match with Somerset and it was a last-chance saloon, but I just went out and managed to play so well. That saved me then from the drop, and helped me on my way to that great season.
An England call-up was realistic at that time, too. But when you are part of an age group that good, you need to hit the scores at the right time and make the headlines, and unfortunately I didn’t and it passed me by.
As time went on,Yorkshire started to struggle and so did I. In 2006, I hardly played or scored runs and that was the most frustrating time of my career because I knew I was better than that.
I could have been playing the best stuff of my life back then and I learned a lot in those periods. The next season I was released, which was very tough.
It was not a fairytale exit and it does hurt but I look back and am very proud of the contribution I made.
There were some good players coming through like Joe Sayers and Adam Lyth, and having been a vicecaptain, I knew the game and how it worked.
I went to Glamorgan, mainly because of Matt Maynard who I always admired. But logistically it became very tough because my wife fell pregnant with twins while I was there so it did not work out.
I retired in 2009 at only 31 because I had not played for a long time and lost confidence, and probably forgot what I could do.
After cricket, I got offered a job in ice cream, something completely different. I needed that time away from the game and it was really good for me, but I was ready to go back in 2011. I started working with the PCA, looking after Yorkshire, Lancashire and Nottinghamshire, helping players in any way. Not many spend a life in cricket and I am very proud of all I have done and achieved.