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My Favourite Somerset Match – Mike Burns

Mike Burns was born in Barrow in Furness and started his cricketing career playing for Cumberland in the Minor Counties.

His talents were spotted by Warwickshire and in 1992 he joined the midland county, where he remained until the end of 1996 when he signed for Somerset on the recommendation of Dermot Reeve.

Between 1997 and 2005 Mike played for Somerset and captained the side in 2003 and 2004.

The batting all rounder, who could also keep wicket, appeared in 134 First Class matches in which he scored over 7000 runs at an average of 34.69, with a best of 221 at Bath in 2001. In addition to that he took 68 wickets at an average of 42.11 with a best of six for 54.

In white-ball cricket Mike played in 179 games and scored 4325 runs at an average of 27.54 with a best of 115 not out and took 58 wickets at 30.50.

For his favourite Somerset match Mike, who has gone onto become a First Class umpire, has chosen the dramatic Cheltenham & Gloucester Trophy semi-final at Taunton against Kent in 2002.

“The semi-finals in the C&G were always great games at Taunton,” he reflected. “The one that stands out for me has to be against Kent in 2002, when we scored 340 but were never really in the game until the last 20 minutes.

“It was just an extraordinary game of cricket and it’s probably the favourite game that I played in.”

Kent had reached the last four of the competition by beating Norfolk, Warwickshire and Gloucestershire, while the hosts had accounted for the Yorkshire Board XI, Hampshire and Worcestershire on their way to the semis.

After being put into bat Somerset scored 344 for five from their 50 overs, which was then their highest score against another First Class county in a one-day game at Taunton.

During Mike’s innings of 72 he shared a second wicket partnership of 91 to lay the foundation of the innings with Peter Bowler, who made 70. He then added 90 with Ian Blackwell who blasted 86 off 53 balls.

“Me and Pete Bowler thought that we were playing well and got 70 odd each, until Blackie came in and smashed it to all corners. He hit 80 in what felt like about 20 minutes, which was pretty vital in the end,” said Mike.

“We hit 344, which was a massive score in those games, but once Kent got going we were struggling to stop them scoring and almost felt like we had lost it.

“Kent had some pretty big players with the likes of Matthew Fleming, Rob Key and Andrew Symonds in their line up and were almost impossible to bowl at.”

Openers Fleming and Key showed the way bringing up the 100 in the 14th over,  after which Symonds made 55 off 41 balls and Dave Fulton hit 48.

Despite chasing a huge target, Kent seemed to have the game in the bag at 336 for six with Paul Nixon and Mark Ealham having added 74 for the seventh wicket. However, little did anyone who was at the ground know how things were going to change.

Mike takes up the story: “The catalyst for game turning was when Keith Dutch ran out Paul Nixon. Mark Ealham hit one to mid wicket and Nico, who was backing up a little bit too far, was run out by Dutchy.”

“In the next over Simon Francis, who came on as substitute fielder for Richard Johnson, spectacularly ran out James Golding, throwing the ball whilst he was on the ground. Then, with his final delivery, Matt Bulbeck bowled David Masters.

“They needed six to win off the final over. Mark Ealham hit Steffan Jones’s first ball to mid wicket where Dutchy took the catch and we had won.

“As a kid growing up, Somerset were on the television quite a lot because they had such a good side with Beefy and Joel. They often featured on a Sunday afternoon when the John Player League was on.

“Being on the balcony of the Colin Atkinson Pavilion after we’d won the game and looking out over onto the field with all the people there brought back the memories of watching it on the television as a kid. That was the reason why you are playing in the first place.

“The crowds for the big one-day matches were always something very special and the chief Peter Anderson would always bring the boundaries in so that we could fit in more people, very astute man that he is!

“The atmosphere in those games was just unbelievable and because the crowds were so close it felt really fabulous. Obviously, there are a few different buildings at the ground now and you are walking out from a different direction, but whenever I walk out onto the ground now it brings back so many happy memories.”

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