It’s fair to say that Mick Newell enjoys watching Andre Adams bowl almost as much as he hates watching him bat.
The reigning player of the year earned his stripes with consistent excellence throughout last season and, fittingly, took the final wicket to secure the LV= County Championship win at Old Trafford.
His determination to succeed, Ox-like strength and wicket-taking prowess have made him an integral part of the Nottinghamshire team and he has no intention to rest on his laurels.
He ranks securing the title as the highlight of his career and having celebrated a feat shared only by a handful of New Zealanders, he is determined to help the team maintain their status as top-end challengers.
“It took me a while to get over my hangover in Manchester,” said Adams, a veteran of one Test and 42 One Day Internationals.
“I roomed with Darren Pattinson and it’s fair to say we had a late breakfast. He’d been tapping me on the shoulder all night and saying ‘We did it! We did it! We won!’
“The sheer relief outweighed the joy to start with because I thought we’d thrown it away but it was a feeling that I’ll never forget.”
Andre’s arrival at Nottinghamshire was unorthodox to say the least. Having made a personal decision to walk away from cricket, he was told by an agent that a deal had been agreed with a county side without his knowledge and he only backtracked on his decision to retired when it transpired that Nottinghamshire were the interested party.
“I took the family on a skiing trip and I got a call from Lou Vincent halfway up the mountain and he said that a friend of his wanted to talk to me about the prospect of playing county cricket,” said Adams.
“I told him that I wasn’t interested but I agreed to take the phone call and an agent said to me ‘I hear you’re interested in playing county cricket’.
“I said that actually I wasn’t at all interested in playing county cricket and I explained that I was on a ski lift and I’d call him back the following day.
“Something must have got lost in translation because he rang me back the next day and said it’s all sorted, you’re going to Notts. I had played league cricket for Kimberley in 2000 and 2001 and I had friends in the area so I went with it but it certainly wasn’t something that I had premeditated.”
Adams made his debut against Northamptonshire in 2007 and made an immediate impression by sharing a match-winning partnership with Graeme Swann.
“We were falling over like dominoes against Nicky Boje bowling into the rough,” recalled Adams.
“Mick and Stephen Fleming could hardly watch but I was pretty confident as I walked out to bat alongside Swanny. He was reverse sweeping and being quite creative and I played positively alongside him.
“Winning the game helped us to win promotion and it gave me an opportunity to prove my worth.”
Stephen Fleming had recommended Adams as a short-term replacement for David Hussey in the second overseas slot and would later tell the Notts dressing room that he had underestimated his ability as a cricketer when he put his name forward.
“It was a nice surprise to get to the train station and see Stephen Fleming there to pick me up because it hadn’t even crossed my mind that he played for Notts,” said Adams.
“I’d had a really good year with Auckland leading up to the 2007 World Cup. I was averaging 40 with the bat and 18 with the ball and I had won some games that shouldn’t have been won including an occasion where we needed 12 off the last ball and I hit a no ball for six and went on to win the game.
“I thought it would be my year but I wasn’t selected for the World Cup and I wasn’t happy with the reasons that I was given so my thoughts were that I was miles down the list and it was time to consider other options.
“All of my training was geared towards getting in that World Cup team and becoming an integral part of a successful Black Caps side and when I didn’t make it I thought it was time to get a proper job.”
Adams was given a start in audio-visual product sales in partnership with a long-term friend before his chance move to Nottinghamshire took place. In a further twist, a discussion with a Notts teammate led to him pursuing the Guyanan passport that allows him to feature as a Kolpak player in county cricket.
“I enjoyed the job and the process of working outside of cricket and it taught me that there was more to life than the constant stress of worrying about Black Caps selection,” he said.
“I had a good couple of months at Notts and we got promoted at the end of the 2007 season and I was in the Castle Bar with Mark Wagh talking about our winter plans and he told me that he was going to Corsica.
“I told him that my Grandfather was from there and it dawned on us that I might be able to get a passport and play as a European.
“I tried to get hold of one but it just wasn’t there to be had and then I discovered that two of the Sussex players were West Indian qualified and I was eligible for a similar passport. It’s been the best document I’ve ever had.”
Contracted until the end of this season and keen to continue playing until the end of the 2013 season, Adams has fallen back in love with the game. Keen to build on last season’s success, he is only too aware that Nottinghamshire’s relegation in 2006 should serve as a cautionary tale.
“It’s a dangerous situation now because we’ll be touted as leading contenders but I know how hard it will be to defend the title,” he said.
“We don’t want to suffer the same fate we did in 2006 and we certainly won’t stick our chests out and expect to win games easily. Lots of hard work goes into winning each game and we have to remember that from the word go.”
“I’m proud to say that I am one of the very few New Zealanders to have won the Championship. Now I’ve done it, the challenge is to do it again.”
Andre will embrace additional responsibility this season in a new look pace attack that has lost Ryan Sidebottom and welcomed Ben Phillips. He is keen to see home-grown talent make progress into the first team and is backing Charlie Shreck to re-capture his best form.
“Ryan was a big influence for us last season and he’ll be a tough loss but we’ve got young guys like Andy Carter and Luke Fletcher who want to come in and put their marker down,” he said.
“Charlie Shreck is coming back to full fitness and I’m delighted that Adam Voges and David Hussey are on board.
“My role as a senior player is to give information to the younger players and as I get older I feel that it’s important to do everything I can to speed up their learning process.
“I want to win Championships and I want to win Twenty20 competitions and I seem myself slipping back into my role as a change bowler.
“The season I’ve had with Auckland was pretty tough and as left me with a few niggles. It’s not as easy as it used to be and I can’t be playing all year round. I’m 35 now and as it stands I expect to retire at 38 but if I can move as freely as Ali Brown at 40 then I might re-consider.”
Those who have witnessed Andre’s batting style will be only too aware of the destruction he can cause in full flight. A purveyor of boundaries rather than risk-free singles, his First Class average of 22.51 underlines the craft behind his outward aggression. He has been accused of lacking patience at times but insists that his style suits his technique.
“I’m a pretty safe character and don’t take many risks in life so batting is my outlet,” he said.
“I’ve always been really aggressive with the bat and when I was starting out the reason behind that was that I had a good eye and my legs were faster and I found that I could hit the ball a long way. As I got older I started to think more about the consequences of batting the way I do but it didn’t help me so I went full circle and decided to be as positive as I can.
“When I come back from New Zealand it’s difficult to adapt because we don’t have bonus points for runs in our competition. Mick has thrown a few profanities my way in the past and they have been well deserved but I always try to do a decent job in my own way.”
Maintenance of the form he displayed in 2010 is sure to help Andre Adams to retain his status as a crowd and dressing room favourite.