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Stuart enjoying his time with Somerset

Regular visitors to the Cooper Associates County Ground this season may well have noticed bowling consultant Stuart Barnes working with the Somerset fast bowlers.

Recently we caught up with Stuart, who talked about his role at Somerset and how things have got so far for him.

“I am bowling consultant for the 50-over competition,” he explained. “That means that I’ve got the responsibility to ensure that the bowlers are prepared and informed before they go out onto the pitch and execute their skills.”

Stuart is no stranger to the County as he explained. “I’m a Somerset boy and was born at Dunkerton, which is just south of Bath. I used to watch my Dad play cricket and got involved in the game myself. There is just something about the teamship of the game and the whole day involved with cricket that really drew me in.

“When I started playing I copied Ian Botham’s bowling action, so I’ve got a real connection with Somerset from all of those years ago – and I remember watching them win at Lord’s.

“I played for two years as a professional at Gloucestershire, which was a great opportunity, but that got taken away from me because I didn’t grab it with both hands, which is one of the most important things that ever happened to me.

“My coaching career is based upon my commitment to myself of never making the same mistakes again, as I did when I was a player. So I went up through the coaching badges and became obsessed with the subject of bowling.

“I got given opportunities to work with the ECB and my first full time coaching job was with Gloucestershire as Academy Director and Second XI coach, after which I then became Assistant coach.”

Stuart went on: “I felt I needed a point of difference regarding fast bowling and I wanted that to be reverse swing. I wanted to learn all about it. I left Gloucestershire and went to live in Bangladesh for eight months, which I loved. Working with highly talented Bangladeshi players, a lot of whom didn’t speak English, was a real challenge for me. I had to gett my message across through an interpreter or through actions.

“During that time I was able to pick up a lot about fast bowlers bowling well in sub continent conditions, learning about reverse swing and how that could be applied in the conditions back here.

“From there I became assistant coach at Surrey for five years, where I got to work alongside some impressive cricketers, but then I felt I needed a break and stepped away from the game for a year in 2017.

“I did something very different and set up a property investment business with my wife. Stepping away like I did after coaching for 16 years gave me an opportunity to work out exactly what I wanted to do for the next 10 or so years or however long it might be.

“Then this opportunity with Somerset came up for a one- day bowling consultant. I applied, got interviewed and was offered the post. Heath Streak joined the lads on their pre-season trip and I communicated closely with him. I’ve been here ever since the start of the season and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.”

Stuart talked a bit more about his links with Somerset.

“I have always felt a connection here from my youth and Somerset was the team that I supported with players like Botham, Richards ,Garner, Roebuck and Colin Dredge. Having been in the visitors dressing room for a number of years, I always hoped that at some stage I would get the chance to work here. In fact my first coaching job was coaching the Somerset Under 12s back in 1996 which included James Hildreth.

“I’ve always had big respect for this Club because it was a mystical place when I was growing up and I would see it on the TV and listen to the games on the radio.”

How had Stuart found working with Somerset after all these years?

“Being involved with Somerset has really been brilliant. It’s been great to get to know the players on a more personal basis because, for me as a coach, I need that rapport and need that trust with the players.

“I’ve really enjoyed taking time out on the outfield or having a coffee, or being up in the dressing room getting to know the people I’m working closely with.”

Regarding the Club overall, Stuart said: “It’s a very humble place but, as we’ve already seen this season, the players representing Somerset are very clearly passionate about the Club and passionate about winning. That’s very important to us all. In short, I’m really enjoying my time here at Somerset.”

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