Not many players make the short trip down the M5 from Gloucestershire to Taunton and end up being revered by supporters of both Counties. However, Steve Kirby did just that.
The fast bowler started his cricketing career when he left school at the age of 16, initially on a YTS scheme at Leicestershire where he joined the staff in 1998. He then moved to Yorkshire where he made his debut in 2001 and played a significant part in helping them to the County Championship title. That winter Steve was selected to be part of the first ever England Academy and further represented England Lions on many more overseas tours.
Steve moved to join Gloucestershire in 2005 where he enjoyed six seasons before signing for Somerset ahead of the 2011 season.
His best season for Somerset was in 2011 when he took 53 wickets, including his Somerset best of 6 for 115 against Lancashire.
Steve played in 35 First Class matches for Somerset in which he has bowled almost 1000 overs and took 103 wickets at an average of 32.23. He was also a key member of the limited over and T20 teams, claiming 45 List A wickets at 22.2 and 34 T20 scalps at 25.74. Steve was also extremely proactive within the Club’s Community Engagement work.
So, what has he been doing since he hung up his whites? “I’m still doing a bit of coaching here and there which I absolutely love,” he said. “But I’m now in the commercial world doing a bit of recruitment with a global recruitment company called Michael Page. It’s been really interesting and quite an eye opener. I’m still trying to keep my hand in in cricket where I can and I’ve still got a huge passion for helping people.”
Steve outlined what he missed most about being a professional: “I really miss the banter with the lads and being involved in the dressing room,” he said. “I miss seeing people doing well and being able to help them along too. I also miss the battle when you’re out there in the middle and the support that you get down here because the Somerset fans are unbelievable. It came to an end all too quickly for me. I had a year and a half left and I would have loved to have carried on, but it had to come to an end someday. I miss it hugely but I don’t miss the pain from the bowling! The body was starting to creak a bit and I certainly don’t miss the sessions with Daz (Darren Veness, Somerset CCC Head of Strength & Conditioning) where he used to put me through the mixer on the Prowler and things like that! I don’t miss preseason either! It was getting worse and worse as the years went on and Daz was just laughing at me because I would just be getting worse and worse. To be honest, the standards were just getting higher and higher and you just had to raise your game each year.”
What were his highlights from his time with the County? “Certainly going to India for the Champions League has to be right up there. That was just unbelievable. Seeing that young squad develop and perform so well in such big games was really really exciting. We were in the top four in the world and weren’t that far off from getting in to the final. I really enjoyed that. We got through to quite a few domestic finals as well which was great and to be honest just playing professional cricket was brilliant. Without a doubt the Club was everything I thought it would be and more! The way the academy was run and watching those boys come through was brilliant. Watching Jos come through and young Leachy was great. Everybody integrated so well but it was the work ethic that was the big thing that struck me when I arrived. It was so apparent that everyone was so together and that this unbelievable work ethic was ingrained in to everyone from the academy and all the way up through the system.”
Steve thinks that Somerset fans could be in for a treat in 2016. “The side they are putting together this year looks like an absolute crackerjack,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to watching them do well this year and I hope they have a cracking season. It’s a case of watch out bowlers coming to Taunton with Chris Gayle coming back!”
What was the best thing about being a Somerset player? “I think it was the whole family orientated Club. You felt so close to the supporters. You were so close to them on the field too. They were so supportive even when you weren’t doing well. It’s not a cliché, the We Are Somerset motto is something that the Club is all about and that’s why I really enjoyed being a part of it. It was a real pleasure.”