Silverware-scooping Sussex skipper, former Derbyshire and sometime England batsman Chris Adams chats to Ed Kemp about the moments that made him.
21 | Surrey v Derbyshire, County Championship, The Oval | 1988
After a good start in the second team I got called up through injury to make my debut. My first ball in professional cricket was walking out to face Sylvester Clarke. The coach Phil Russell had picked me up from a second-team game the day before and said, ‘Do you know Surrey have a chap called Sylvester Clarke?’ and I said, ‘I have to be honest, I don’t.’ He said, ‘Well, you know that front-foot pull you like to play… You might not want to play it tomorrow.’ I understood why because the first three balls I faced absolutely fizzed past my nose – it was significantly quicker than anything I’d faced before.
101 & 17 | Yorkshire v Derbyshire, County Championship, Scarborough | 1990
My first hundred against a county. John Morris – the guy all young batsmen on the staff idolised – and I were in overnight. Scarborough is one of those festival towns and there’s a really good social scene, so after play all the lads were talking about where they were going to go. John put his arm around me and said, ‘Pup, do you know where you and I are going tonight? Nowhere. We’re having an early night, because we’ve got runs to score tomorrow.’ We both got hundreds; I went from 97 to 101 with a four and then got out next ball.
216 & 43 | Kent v Derbyshire, County Championship, Maidstone | 1995
My first double. We’d lost the toss and I watched in awe as Aravinda de Silva compiled 255. The ball never left the ground, it was an exhibition of complete control, timing, caressing of the ball and dissection of the field without ever taking a risk. I took a lot from that. In my innings I did hit some sixes but I didn’t go aerial until I was past 150. I’d watched this master at work and realised there was a different way to play the game than the crash-bang-wallop style in which I’d started my career.
24 & 42 | Surrey v Derbyshire, County Championship, The Oval | 1996
The turning point in my career. I got the worst 20-odd that anyone could ever score: nicks, plays and misses, lbw shouts… horrific. I was in trouble. In the changing room I asked Les Stillman, our new no-nonsense Aussie coach, for advice. He looked at me with contempt and said, ‘You talk about wanting to play for England… you carry on playing like that you won’t even be playing for Derbyshire.’ I was livid, but he was right, and I asked him to help me. We arranged to meet early in the morning and when I arrived I saw Graham Thorpe in the nets with Alan Butcher – we’re talking 7.30am. I told Les, ‘That’s what I want to be.’ A right-handed version of Graham Thorpe. So we spent 45 minutes in the nets copying his set-up and trigger movements. I went out that day and gave the new technique a go, and scored 41.
It felt horrible. As I sat in the changing room feeling awful, Les sat next to me and said, ‘Wow. I’ve never seen anyone have the balls to change their technique in the morning and then go out and use it a few hours later in a first-class game. The movements look right, all you have to do is nail the timing, and you’ll score a lot of runs.’ Those words were like gold to me. The next game I got my highest score, 239. I never looked back. I’d turned myself from a guy who was averaging low-mid 30s to someone who was getting up to 40-plus.
THE FUTURE’S BRIGHTON
135 & 105 | Essex v Sussex, County Championship, Chelmsford | 1998
After making a big move to Sussex, I made twin hundreds in my second Championship game. Going in as a novice captain at a new club, to do that so early on really took the pressure off and helped repay some of their faith in me. Also, it was in front of Nasser Hussain, who was made England captain a year later.
WELCOME TO THE BULLRING
16 & 1 | South Africa v England, 1st Test, Johannesburg | 1999
I’d made my ODI debut the year before, which was a hair-tingling moment, but as an individual this was the pinnacle of my career. I had a great year in one-day cricket and with Duncan Fletcher having just come in, I expected to get in the one-day squad – but never the Test squad, because I’d had a pretty average year in the Championship. But it was a new regime. I got picked and thought I’d be the spare batsman on the tour, but ended up playing the first Test alongside fellow debutants Michael Vaughan and Gavin Hamilton.
I don’t think there will ever be a debut to match it. On the morning the weather had swung, it was dark and gloomy – the senior players in our camp thought we wouldn’t start on time – if we played at all – because of the weather. It was a greenish deck with good pace and Donald got Atherton in the first over.
When Nasser went, with two wickets down, I went into the changing room to pad up, but I could see Alec Stewart getting ready. I was changing next to him, and I didn’t want to upset his focus, so I held back. Then Butcher got out which meant Alec was in, so I quickly rushed in to get my stuff on. I heard an almighty roar, looked up at the screen and there was Alec getting hit on the boot by Donald first ball, given out and I had that recurring nightmare for any batsman, a wicket goes and you’re in and you haven’t got your kit on! It was surreal. Goughie ran over laughing – he was putting my left pad on as I was putting my right pad on. Eventually I got out there at 2-4 on a hat-trick ball. The benefit to that – especially having played Donald before – was that I knew exactly what ball he was going to bowl: an inswinging yorker trying to hit the stumps. I was prepared for that, dug it out, and my first scoring shot more than doubled the score. Vaughan and I put on a bit of a partnership, but as a team we didn’t get anywhere near enough.
Funnily enough, although by the end of the tour I found myself out of both the Test and one-day sides, this innings was probably the most comfortable I felt whilst batting for England – it was not unlike a county day: a green wicket with the ball darting all over the place.
102 | Sussex v Leicestershire, County Championship, Hove | 2003
It was fantastic to be out in the middle at the moment Murray Goodwin hit Phil DeFreitas for four, which collected a batting point to win us the County Championship for the first time in the club’s history. It had been six years in the making and was the coming together of the outstanding team that I ever played in. That day also highlighted to me the difference between ‘very good’ and ‘outstanding’. I got to a hundred and it felt like, ‘Job done’ – I’d got my personal milestone, the Championship was won, it was the end of a long season, I thought I’d have a bit of fun. I cuffed a couple then holed out, and walked off to a standing ovation. Then I watched Murray go on and get 335*. He was an outstanding batsman.
132* | Sussex v Lancashire, NatWest Pro40, Hove | 2006
This was our best season and this innings was one of my best one-day hundreds. Lancashire were our only challengers in the Championship title race, and this game was a precursor to the C&G Trophy final we’d play against them at Lord’s two weeks later. They batted first and put on a big score and it felt like they were getting one over on us before the final. In reply I got out there early and then batted all the way through and hit the winning runs. In the team meeting afterwards Mushy (who used to call me ‘Mr Skip’) stood up and said, ‘I’ve only got two words to say to you, Mr Skip. I love you.’ Classic Mushy. It felt like we already had one hand on the trophy; we went on to win the final and do the double.