Welcome to the third and final part of our special interview with former Club Captains Mike Burns, Ian Blackwell plus former player and coach Peter Robinson and Club legend Andy Caddick.
We got these players together to discuss how the game has changed over the years, particularly during the winter months.
For the final part of the interview we asked them what they thought of the dreaded pre-season training.
Andy Caddick: “Nobody likes preseason! The bowlers hate it because they are running in on slippery wickets and batsmen hate it because the ball is going all over the place. It means that sometimes you get a little bit of batsmen versus bowlers at that time of the year. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying it but Richard Harden used to really hate it in the nets in pre-season. Anything that moved even a millimetre off the square used to make him really cross! Pre-season was always cold and quite often wet but pre-season for me was always just about getting overs under my belt. It was about bowling in the nets and getting two sessions in each day to build up the stamina. I wasn’t really one for pumping weights in the gym, I was more interested in bowling and swimming. That’s what got me ready for the season. Obviously I enjoyed winter tours with England as it meant that I was still bowling but there was always a bit of a crossover period when I came back from touring which meant that I wasn’t always around for pre-season. The worst one for me was when I came back from a tour of the West Indies. We’d played back to back Tests and Brian Lara decided to get 375 in Antigua. We flew back to the UK and within about five days I was playing for Somerset in a game at the Oval. Alec Stewart got about 175 and smashed me all over the park because I was completely knackered! Fortunately players now are monitored much more closely when it comes to the amount of cricket that’s being played.”
Ian Blackwell: “Pre-season is obviously a necessity when it comes to fitness testing and things like that but I was always more interested in the cricket side of things. For me you win games of cricket on the pitch and not in the gym but you do need to be as fit as possible for the job you do. Perhaps I may have been slightly slack on that front but I always prided myself on the results that I achieved on the pitch.”
Mike Burns: “I always had a smile on my face during pre-season training but inside I was thinking: “Please just let me go and play golf or have a net or something!” It was always painful but I quite enjoyed it. I guess pre-season isn’t quite so bad now as they are training all year round so it doesn’t come as such a shock. We were going from almost nothing to training really hard over the space of a couple of weeks.”
Peter Robinson: “To be honest we used to look forward to it. Pre-season was the easy part! The war really started when people were trying to bowl you out for real! Pre-season was really just batting and bowling. Some of the bowlers, like Ken Palmer, would do a bit of running beforehand but we would spend all morning in the nets. Each batsman would have a knock and Ken would do 10 minutes off his short run and then 10 minutes off his long run until lunch time. We’d do that again after lunch, then we’d have a bat. After that we’d do a bit of fielding and then we’d kick the hell out of each other in a five-a-side football match! Sometimes they might treat us with a morning at Weston where we would play football on the beach. We used to enjoy our practices and we used to almost coach ourselves really. If you had a batting problem you would go to your best player. I never used to play spin well so I would go to Brian Langford and ask him to keep bowling it at me. Then we would talk about what I could do to improve. We would go to our senior players like that because they knew what they were talking about. They’d seen it all and done it all. A lot of us were good footballers and played to a decent level which helped to keep us fit in the winter. I played for Taunton Town, Ken was on the books at Bristol City and a lot of us played in the Saturday leagues. You were allowed to do that in those days and we would stop in February. Peter Trego is a talented footballer and in our day he would have been playing semi-pro football in the winter but of course he can’t do that nowadays.”