Walney cricket ace Mike Burns to receive Somerset hall of fame honour
FROM lifting trophies at Lord's to collapsing outside takeaways after a night of celebration, Mike Burns did it all during his nine years playing county cricket for Somerset.
Now the Barrow-born all-rounder is set to be honoured for his contribution to one of the most successful periods in the club's history by being inducted into the county's hall of fame next month.
The Cheltenham and Gloucester Trophy triumph of 2001, plus two other finals appearances at the Home of Cricket in 1999 and 2002, were the pinnacle for the team, while Burns' highest first-class score of 221 against Yorkshire sticks out in his mind as a personal highlight from that era.
But it may come as a surprise to learn it was the wins at Taunton's County Ground to send Somerset to Lord's for each of those games – and the celebrations in the aftermath – which are the memories most fondly treasured by the 48-year-old.
“The big things really are that fortunately we had a home semi-final in every one of those,” said Burns. “Obviously we won them all to get through to the finals, and it's just being there on the balcony at Taunton with the field full of your supporters and the champagne flowing.
“They give me more goosebumps than the finals, really, and it's brilliant. They were the sort of things you watched on telly as a kid and to be involved in that was a big thing.
“Obviously there was getting a double-hundred against Yorkshire, but it's more of the team things you remember; the good times of going out in town and then slumping down in the doorway of Taunton Kebabs in your blazer.”
Burns is unlikely to be caught indulging in such behaviour these days though, namely because his post-playing career has seen him become one of the men responsible for upholding the Laws of Cricket.
Having had a spell working for cricket equipment suppliers after retiring from playing, the former Walney Comprehensive pupil took up umpiring and followed the well-trodden path for many ex-first-class players, being promoted from the reserve list to the full list in 2016.
“There was always a chance (of becoming an umpire) because I was always talking to the umpires when I was batting or fielding at square leg,” said Burns.
“The last couple of years of my contract at Somerset, I think the chief executive was trying to push me into umpiring as well – although he might have just been trying to get me off the payroll!
“You get to the point where it's the only other thing you know about and I thought 'I'm going to have to give it a go', and it has gone really well since then.
“You do make the odd mistake, but as long as you've got a good reason for making them and you try not to make too many then you're generally okay. It's great to be involved in the game and back out on the field, and I really enjoy it.”
Burns will be inducted to the Somerset hall of fame on September 12 along with the likes of former England seamer Andy Caddick, ex-Australia opener Justin Langer and his antipodean compatriot Jamie Cox, who skippered the county to that cup triumph in 2001.
And the man who started out playing club cricket at Vickerstown and Kendal-based Netherfield before giving up a career at Vickers to play professionally - first with Warwickshire and then Somerset - is honoured to be chosen for an accolade along with other illustrious names.
“It's nice to be recognised and nice to know the efforts you put in have been noticed,” said Burns.
“It's only a small county in terms of the ground and everything like that, but history-wise there have been players like Viv Richards, (Joel) Garner and (Ian) Botham.
“Steve Waugh has played there and there have been some massive overseas players there along with some great English players. It's really nice to be part of the history of the club.”