Friday, June 8, 2012

Andre Adams - New Zealand's lost treasure

For an outsider, the Land of Long White Cloud known as New Zealand may seem like a strange land. A statistical count can tell you, there are 11 sheep for  every person in New Zealand, which is something on the lines of 44 million sheep to 4.1 million people. In-spite of having less people than sheep and with almost all those 4 million people hooked to a sport called Rugby, the strange Island still manages to stay competitive in the cricket world by producing quality and tough cricketers. 

One such cricketer, who is of Caribbean descent, born in Auckland, but now plying his trade for Nottinghamshire reached a milestone in his career yesterday. A few maybe bewildered as to what is all this man about? Even though, he has now connections with different countries of the World, he certainly can't be secretly working for the secretary general of UNO Ban Ki Moon as a peace keeping agent, as he plays a game called cricket. So, who is this mystery man? What was the milestone he achieved yesterday which is making a few people sit up and take notice of his talent?

If you haven't guessed it yet, I am thinking about the talented, but sometimes hot-headed bowling all-rounder Andre Adams, who nowadays plays for the English County side Notts. Of course, our man Andre Adams can't be a secret peace keeping agent, as he is rebellious and hot-headed, but with a cricket ball,  or sometimes with a bat in hand, he has the uncanny knack of making you feel that he has a license to thrill the cricket audience. Yesterday, Andre Adams at the ripe age of 36 even took his 600th fc wicket which in turn made me wonder how on earth could have a talented cricketer like Andre Adams just played one test for New Zealand?

In simple words, when Adams played for the Kiwis, he was a compelling cricketer to watch, a man of boundless energy, who never gave an inch to the opposition. I still remember watching him for the first time against Australia at Melbourne in 01/02 and being impressed by the pace and a bit of awkward bounce he got. Adams would just amble up-to the crease before using his shoulder and a quick arm action to surprise the batsman for a bit of pace. In-fact, it made the former Aussie captain and  the renowned commentator Richie Benaud say on air, where did he come from?

In that match against the marauding Ozzies, I felt like he was playing a game of feint. The first few deliveries, he would amble up-to the crease and bowl at about 80mph to mislead the Aussies into thinking that he is yet another of those dibbly dobbly medium pacers from the Kiwiland. Finally, the effort ball bowled at least 5mph quicker and as a result, the batsman surprised for a bit of pace. Adams wasn't even afraid of testing the famed OZ batting line-up with a few bouncers!

In the only test Adams played against England, he was again impressive. With the Kiwis one down in the series and most of the key bowlers already out with injuries, the Kiwis were in dire straits. Adams in his debut test though, came up with the goods by bowling aggressively and taking six wickets.  He even bowled a snorter to England's newbie keeper Foster and as a result of that delivery, poor Fozzie's helmet went for a nice walk.

On occasions, Adams bowled spells, which could be described as idiosyncratic spells yet, he took wickets. Here, who can forget his spell against the struggling Indian team in a one-day match in New Zealand in 02/03. Andre Adams bowled everything, which included jaffas and hit me short and wide deliveries. Now, nothing can beat the double bouncer he bowled to Kumble. The ball just bounced in front of Adams, looped up into the orbit and it bounced in front of Kumble for the second time before hitting the stumps. The batsman Kumble just didn't have a clue about where the ball had gone! To me, the ball so bowled by Adams seemed like a rain drop dripping down ever so slowly from the roof of a house on the batsman.

Adams could be frustrating to watch for a viewer and the captain. In the 2003 WC, New Zealand's spearhead Shane Bond ripped through the heart of Australia's batting line-up with pace and swing at PE,  but only to see Adams and co. gifting away runs in the end. The captain fantastic Fleming must have been a frustrated man, as he watched Adams gift away runs on a platter to the Ozzies during the slog overs. He even tried that double bouncer, but this time around, the batsman Bichel was aware of it and smashed it for a six.

Since his move to Nottinghamshire though, Adams has been very consistent as a bowler. Just look at his performance for the Notts during the last few years. In 2010, he topped the bowling charts for the County with 68 wickets. In 2011, he had yet another productive season with 67 wickets and also chipped in with useful runs as a batsman. Just like Chapple of Lancashire, Adams seems to be getting better with age. Even when he has played as an overseas professional for Auckland Aces, he has done well in the HRV cup as well as in the odd game that he has played in the Plunket Shield.

For a Kiwi fan, the talk of him being an overseas professional playing for Auckland must be hard to digest. So, who is to be blamed for this mess? Adams has been known for having attitude problems. During the 2006/07 season, when he was having a great time with Auckland, he was suspended for grabbing the bat and shaking the helmet of Central Districts batsman Beven Griggs.

For an outsider like me, it is difficult to understand what exactly happened, but the NZ board could have at least tried to persuade him to stay on in New Zealand. Instead, lack of opportunities with the national team meant that Adams went in search of greener pastures. He joined the Notts County and at that time, he also played in the now defunct ICL. Just like most players from New Zealand, he didn't have a good working relationship with the then coach Bracewell and that doesn't help.

So what do I think about Adams's move to Notts? On one hand, it feels good to see County cricket being stronger as a result of having good cricketers like Adams around. At the same-time though, it is sad to see him doing so well in CC and yet not being able to play for his national team. My heart says, there is still perhaps light at the end of the tunnel and he may turn out one-day for the Kiwis,  but my brain says it won't happen and he will retire with just one test to his name!  With a lawn bowls administrator and a man, who believes in weird theories like hats theory at the helm of affairs, not much can be expected.

As a cricket aficionado, I will leave you with a photo which may make a cricket fan reading this article wonder what might have been. This picture dates back to the series in New Zealand in 02/03, when Adams played his only test and bowled a brute of a bouncer to England's keeper James Foster.


A cricketing Buddha said...

Adams was always something of an enigma in NZ cricket' - there was fault of both sides. Yes, he was poorly managed but he didn't always help himself.

I love your optimism but he'll never play fr NZ again - he has turned down the offer at least twice in recent years. The professionalism of the Countygame has helped him iron out his kinks and stopped what at times seemed like a disruptive influence.

There was a good piece on Adams in the first issue of The Cricket Paper.

Mykuhl said...

the tradgedy with Adams was two-fold. 1. he was pigeon holed as a one day player, and 2. he was seen as an all-rounder rather than a bowler.

When he retired from NZ cricket, he actually only retired from ODI's. He said that he was still available for tests, but the selectors refused to pick him. (I wrote about it here.

Also in seeing him as an all-rounder he was sometimes criticized for throwing his wicket away, when really any runs from Adams were bonus runs, and he shouldn't have been put into that position by the batsmen.

greyblazer said...

Maybe you can say that John Bracewell as the coach didn't help? Yes he has certainly become a better bowler in the last few years in CC.

greyblazer said...


Adams has always been more of a bowler who can chip in with a few useful runs.

Thanks for sharing the article. I will read it.

Suhas said...

That's a fine summary of Adams' career.

As Mykuhl has pointed out, the main reason NZ didn't get the best out of him was he was typecasted as a one-day allrounder. Initially it was the same way with Jacob Oram, but somewhere down the line the selectors changed their mind and Oram forged a decent (if not great) record as a test batsman. If only they ahd recognised the same in Adams' bowling.

Adams also got injured quite a few times. After that lone test he missed a lot of cricket in 2002 and I suspect he dropped down the pecking order as far as test bowlers were concerned.

You're also right about Bracewell. In the 2007/08 season Adams was having a phenomenal state shield - he averaged something like 10 with the ball and was topping the wicket charts, but Braces continued to ignore him inexplicably. I think this was the last straw. For me, he and Lou Vincent stand out as the two most mismanaged NZ cricketers of the last decade.

greyblazer said...

Most players were said to be unhappy with JB. I wonder why did he continue for so long?