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AT age 37 the pride Adam Burns gets in representing the Bendigo District Cricket Association in Melbourne is still as strong as when he first did so as a 20-year-old.
Burns is preparing to embark on his 16th Melbourne Country Week campaign with Bendigo and add to a games tally that is already an association record.
Next week's carnival will be Burns' 16th time representing Bendigo in Melbourne, having first done so in 2002.
Since then he has only missed two carnivals - the drought-breaking Provincial Group triumph of 2007 when he had a season with Premier Cricket club Geelong, and last year when he was sidelined with a hernia.
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"There has been a couple of different drivers over the years for wanting to be part of the team… the main one being the chance to play with a different group of extremely talented players each year," Burns said on Thursday.
"It's obviously a great week to get away, challenge yourself and play at the highest level possible coming out of the country against some really strong competition."
It's obviously a great week to get away, challenge yourself and play at the highest level possible coming out of the country against some really strong competitionAdam Burns
All-rounder Burns is the holder of two BDCA Melbourne Country Week records - his 61 games and 115 wickets.
He's also one of the few in BDCA history to have captained a Provincial Group premiership team, having done so in 2010.
The 2010 triumph in which Bendigo defeated Kyabram by 47 runs in the grand final is among five seasons in which Burns skippered the team.
"It was a great experience to captain the team over those years and winning in 2010 was a massive highlight," said Burns, who took 13 wickets that week.
"The drive now though has changed a little bit in that it's about trying to get Bendigo back in the top division of Provincial Group."
Bendigo will next week compete in division two at Melbourne for the second year in a row after being relegated following a winless 2017 in Provincial Group.
"A couple of us older boys in particular are really determined to get us back in to Provincial Group before we step away," Burns said.
"If we could get ourselves back up into Provincial Group then it's something I would hang my hat on. We've got the team that is strong enough to go down there and compete every day, so, hopefully, it all goes well."
While he's now closer to 40 than he is 30 and is playing alongside his son Riley, Burns continues to ply his trade at a high level for his club side, Kangaroo Flat.
Burns has combined 289 runs, which includes a match-winning century against White Hills (112) in round six, with 13 wickets this season.
"I'm feeling the fittest I have been for three or four seasons now and it's nice to still be able to compete," Burns said.
"There's plenty of good talent around the competition and I still really enjoy the challenge each week."
Bendigo will be captained at Melbourne Country Week by another stalwart Ben DeAraugo, with this to be his 14th trip to the carnival.
Bendigo - coached by Shane Koop - plays Goulburn Murray at Greenvale Reserve on day one on Monday.
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