Dickie Bird shares his Somerset Memories

Cricketing legend Dickie Bird spent four days at the Cooper Associates County Ground last weekend while his native county Yorkshire played against Somerset.

Despite the outcome of the match, the former Test Match umpire, who started his playing career with Yorkshire before moving onto Leicestershire, talked about his fondness for Somerset.

As he sat looking out at the cricket, Dickie said: “I loved playing here for both Yorkshire and Leicestershire and it’s a beautiful ground, one of the best in the country. I enjoyed coming here when I was playing and I still love coming here now. Everybody is just so friendly and makes me so welcome.

“I always say that I want to go to Taunton every year because I’ve got so many happy memories, and I’m lucky enough to be able to come down with the Yorkshire lads on their bus.

“It’s a fine ground here in Taunton and now that they’ve done all of the development work it’s even better. They’ve done it so well because they haven’t knocked the character out of the place. You can still see the churches as we look out and it’s such a lovely place to be able to come and watch the cricket.”

Dickie who is now 85 years old went on: “During the time I was playing, Somerset had some real characters and one of them who stands out for me, who I later went on to umpire with, is Bill Alley. He was a real character and what a player he was as well. You always knew you were in a game when you played against Bill.”

“Over the years Somerset have had some tremendous cricketers, including some great overseas players. One of those greats is Sunil Gavaskar, who is the best opening batsman in my time and I would say even in history.

“Steve Waugh played for Somerset and I have him as the best ever captain I’ve ever seen out there in the middle. He was a great competitor and a great cricketer as well. Ricky Ponting has played at Somerset and so has another young lad who I coached out in South Africa; Jimmy Cook. What a player he was.

“Somerset have also had a lot of players who have gone on to become umpires. I’ve already mentioned Bill Alley but there was also Kenny Palmer and his brother Roy, Alan Whitehead, Merv Kitchen, Peter Wight and John Harris.

“This ground will always be one of my favourites and whenever I come here I get a really warm welcome.  The carvery lunch in Taunton is the best in the country and I always look forward to my lunch whenever I come here.

“Some things around the ground may have changed, but Somerset is still the same magnificent club it always has been.”

Dickie also talked about two other Somerset grounds.

“I also used to like going to Weston-super-Mare to umpire the cricket festival,” he said. “I think I was there for the last one they held. They were wonderful people at Weston and always looked after me well. They always had my bucket of water there in the morning for me to wash and again at night as they didn’t have any showers. It was marvelous there and a really great atmosphere.

“Bath was another place I used to like to go to, a beautiful ground.”

Dickie added: “Somerset had so many great characters playing for them when I was here and I reckon that I played at the best time and I umpired at the best time. I’ve just got so many wonderful memories, that I will always treasure for the rest of your life.”

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09/07/2022 19:00 - The Cooper Associates County Ground