Liam Flint had the chance to catch up with current Kent coach and former West Indies man Jimmy Adams, to talk about playing, coaching and faith.
So Jimmy who was your sporting role model as you were growing up?
That would be Sir Viv Richards and Diego Maradona, they were the best at what they did and they did it in a way that appealed to me. At the time, in the 80s they were the best and I loved cricket and football.
Tell us a bit about how you came to know God for yourself.
I grew up in a Christian family, in Jamaica and did what most families did to be honest. I went to church, Sunday school, that kind of thing so it all came from a family background. Then in high school there was an organisation called Inter School Christian Fellowship and we had meetings once a week, it was at one of those meetings that I made the decision to follow Christ. That is my background really, nothing spectacular or earth-shattering.
Do you remember where you were when you received your first call up to the West Indies side?
I was actually playing an A-team game against England A in Barbados and it was the last game of a three-test series. South Africa were going to come to the Caribbean shortly afterwards and the squad for that tour was going to be announced that final evening of the A team current series. One of the selectors came into the dressing room and basically called me outside to say that I was in the squad, so I remember it quite well really. You tend not to forget those moments.
I was very, very happy, there was a space for a batsman and I had dominated the regional first class season but I hadn’t scored many runs against England A and there were a couple others who had. I didn’t know whether they were going to take the regional season into consideration so I wasn’t sure. There was a bit of uncertainty there so I was pretty relieved to get the nod.
If you could reduce your career down to one best moment, what stands out for you?
It’s hard to pin down one moment, I would say as a generalisation that all of the firsts stand out, so the first test hundred, first test as captain, first one-day international, that kind of thing. The first times are always special. It was living the dream for nine years so every day was a magical day to represent your country at the highest level.
Did you feel much pressure when you took over the West Indies captaincy from a legend like Brian Lara?
It was just an honour, to think that people deem you worthy of leading the region, it is something that I am extremely proud of and it something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. There are always pressures in that role and part of the process is learning how to cope with those pressures. I embraced the challenges and in a sense it was fun because you are testing yourself every day.
How has God helped you through the tough times in your career, especially with injury?
Let me say this, what other people may consider to be tough times I do not consider to be tough times, at the end of the day it is not tough in terms of making the decision to get up and play cricket tomorrow. That is a non- question, it’s what you love doing. With injury, you are out for six weeks and your bones heal, you are off and away. There is nothing inherently tough about that, what I will say is when you are making tough decisions and doubt that what you are doing is the right decision, that’s for me when it was nice to know that God is in charge.
You can pray to him about it and trust that it will be sorted, our tendency as humans is to worry, fret and stress and almost pretend that God is not there. For me it was about having that rock, that foundation when you have those decisions to make, even to this day. You can put it all on God’s plate and then be guided by him.
Who would you say was the best bowler that you have ever faced and why?
You can take your pick, I guess within the Caribbean you’d have people like Ambrose, Bishop and then at international level you have all the greats. Shane Warne, Wasim Akram, Muralitharan, Kumble, Shoaib Akhtar, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath. All of those bowlers were great for a reason and they were always a handful.
As a Christian did you ever find opportunities to talk about God with your team mates, any encouraging stories?
Inside the Caribbean and South Africa there is a strong Christian culture already, it wasn’t like over here in English county cricket where it is a more secular society, things of a religious nature are not the sort of thing that people want to bring up. Whereas in Jamaica and around the West Indies God wasn’t an issue, a lot of guys were Christians which made it a relaxed topic. In some environments it was easy and in others it just didn’t happen. I have had a couple of conversations with some of the lads at different points, just them being curious but that’s about the extent of it really. It’s sad in a way because people don’t realise that there is an eternal picture.
So you are now Head Coach of kent, was it an easy transition from playing to coaching for you?
When I stopped playing cricket I didn’t know what I was going to do but I had always coached at clubs throughout my career because it is a part of your contract, which I enjoyed. So I got myself qualified along the way and then I did a bit of private coaching and then was director of cricket out in Jamaica for a few years. I fancied a challenge of doing hands-on work with a team, so I applied for the Kent job and the rest in history. It has been really good fun, very challenging and therefore learnt a lot about myself and what makes players tick. You wish you’d known it earlier.
West Indies coach next then?
It’s in good hands at the minute with Phil Simmons, another mentor of mine and he is doing a fantastic job. Let them get on with it.
Do you have a favourite Bible verse?
Not really, there are quite a few, I think you have different favourites at different times. It’s like saying what is your favourite song? You have different moods and so a lot of verses appeal at different times dependent on what Ii am going through. I quite like Psalm 23 but I reckon I would find gems in every book of the bible and you soon find out that you can’t finish the bible. It just hits you fresh every day.