Former skipper discusses all things Somerset
Former Somerset captain Mike Burns was back at the County Ground this week.
Mike, who was part of our C&G Trophy winning side of 2001 and is now a highly regarded umpire, has been back in the Club gym recently in a bid to ensure that he is in the best possible shape ahead of the new season.
Having been on the ECB’s umpire reserve list this year he is hoping to go one better in 2016. “I got a lot of first class games during the summer which was good,” he said. “It went well so hopefully I can get on the ECB full list next year. There have been a lot of former Somerset players who have gone on to be umpires and certainly when I was playing every other umpire seemed to come from Somerset! I think there’s something about the County and its passion for cricket that breeds people who want to stay involved with the game, which is partly down to the Club and the personalities that surround it. There’s not many of us now but hopefully Blackie (Ian Blackwell who was also on the reserve list in 2015) and I can start that trend again.”
What did Mike think of Somerset’s 2015 campaign? “Tom Abell had an excellent season and it was great to see Marcus scoring big runs again,” he said. “There’s lots of potential in the squad with the likes of Lewis Gregory and the Overton boys and Ryan Davis who has just signed is a good lad too. I see that Chris Rogers has signed up for next year as well and if anyone can guarantee runs then it’s him, so things are looking alright for next season.”
What does the former skipper think of the new Somerset Pavilion which is nearing completion? “The place has certainly changed a bit since I first started playing,” he said. “In my first season here I did some labouring on the Sir Ian Botham Stand, so that wasn’t even here when I first came. It’s changed a lot but it’s changing for the better. It’s always been a beautiful ground but you have to move with the times. The challenge is to do that without changing the character of the ground. I think that is what has happened here. Taunton still has that great spirit. It’s still a great place to come and a nice place to umpire. It was always a great place to play as well.”
Mike played for Somerset from 1997 until 2005 and is impressed by the way that former players are treated by the County Ground faithful: “It’s great. It was always like that when I played too. I always got on with everybody here. The fans were great even when things weren’t going too well. Former players always seem to be welcome and are always well received. It’s just a great place to be. If you’re in the crowd people will always come over and have a chat and that’s great and the lads always love coming down here. I’m still in touch with a lot of the boys I played with. I’m out with Peter Bowler and his wife next week and I still talk to Richard Johnson regularly. I see a lot of Blackie and Keith (Parsons) too. We were all good mates and it was a really good time in our lives. We had a good team and some really good lads playing at that time and most of them are still around here which is good.”
What does 2016 have in store for Mike Burns? “Hopefully getting on to the ECB’s full list for the umpiring! Before that I’ll be spending some time in the gym down here with Daz (Somerset Head of Strength & Conditioning, Darren Veness) so that I can stay fit and keep performances up on the field. Hopefully it’ll be a good summer next year with some good cricket and hopefully I can put my finger up in the right places!”
Does he still get a chance to show his skills with the bat? “Not just the bat but the ball as well!” he said. “I played a few games for North Petherton with Blackie this year and we had some good fun. Back in 2003 I yipped up and couldn’t bowl anymore but during last winter I had a cheeky little bowl in the nets here and it came out alright so I ended up opening the bowling in a few games. It was really tiring after about 11 years of not doing it especially when they had me bowling about ten overs on the bounce. It’s not easy for a 46 year old but I did really enjoy it. There’s a great set of lads down at North Petherton plus Blackie and I always make sure that we have a bit of fun with the umpires too!