County news September 5, 2013

Re-energised Adams ready for return

A few months ago, Chris Adams cut a forlorn figure. Watching from his office at The Oval as Ryan Buckley, a teenage offspinner from Durham, spun his Surrey side to defeat, Adams looked drawn, exhausted and a little confused. Not defeated, but certainly wearied and chastened.

Now, 10 weeks after he was sacked as director of cricket at Surrey, the "old" Adams has returned. He is refreshed and revived. He laughs. He is enjoying himself again and recovered a love for the game that had, if not died, ebbed for a while. More importantly he feels, after a period of introspection, that he is ready to re-enter the fray.

Quite where that may be remains unclear. Had Hugh Morris stepped down from his position as managing director of England cricket 18 months ago, Adams may have been among the favourites to replace him. He might still be.

But the intervening months did not go as planned. Tom Maynard's death in June 2012 changed everything at The Oval and the attempt to add maturity to a grieving dressing room blocked opportunities for younger players. With the club management sensing a lack of progress and feeling a change was required - as much for Adams's own good as anything - he was relieved of his position.

History's recall tends to be black and white. So, for many, memories of Adams's time at Surrey will consist only of a side full of grieving or ageing players, struggling to win games. It's a grossly unfair portrayal - Surrey won the Clydesdale Bank 40 and promotion in 2011 - and, after inheriting a sleeping giant at the start of 2009, he at least put them on the road to recovery. Right up until the accident, Surrey were playing - whether they won or lost - joyful cricket and appeared to have the players to benefit club and country for a generation.

Now Adams admits he is "a man at a crossroads". Each September tends to bring new opportunities in the world of county cricket and there are suggestions of changes or additions at three or four counties and Adams is likely to be considered for most of them. Whether the way things ended at Surrey counts against him remains to be seen, but it worth remembering that coaches as proficient as Duncan Fletcher, with England, and Bob Woolmer, with Warwickshire, also endured unhappy endings to coaching assignments. The man who played such a huge role in Sussex's golden age and reviving Surrey, still has a great deal to offer English cricket.

But before looking to the future, how does he reflect on the past. Does he feel the decision to sack him was a mistake?

"Well, in the four years I was with Surrey, I'd overseen a complete restructure of the coaching and playing staff," Adams told ESPNcricinfo. "We had won promotion and a Lord's final. In the previous 24 months, Surrey had had more representatives in various England squads than at any time. All the key performance indicators were good."

Surrey were sixth in the Championship when Adams was sacked "We had lost two games. And the T20 hadn't even started. I guess, in the end, players win games and coaches lose them. When we signed the big names - the likes of Graeme Smith - the expectations went up. Then he went home and the goal posts moved.

"I have had offers from outside the game and it may be that I look towards a spectrum of interests that include a bit of several different things but I still feel I have a huge amount to offer in cricket"

"It hurt to lose the Surrey job. Of course it did. But that's in the past. I actually felt sorry for Richard Gould, the Surrey chief executive, when he told me the news. Because of the nature of the club, with people living all over the place, he had to contact me on the phone. There's no ill-feeling. In fact, I look back at the four-and-a-half years there as a privilege."

He is, he says, "open minded" about the future. He had enjoyed a foray into commentary, where his candour has made a welcome change to the facile timidity of some, and is keen, in his words, to "retain his status within the game".

"I have had offers from outside the game," he says, "and it may be that I look towards a spectrum of interests that include a bit of several different things. But I still feel I have a huge amount to offer in cricket. Whether it's in a planning role as a director of cricket, or in a coaching role, maybe as a batting coach, I don't mind. It's been my life for 27 years and I consider myself incredibly fortunate."

But he does intend to learn from the last few years. The weeks following his sacking, he realised how completely he had allowed the Surrey job to take over his life and how he had neglected other areas.

"I was completely immersed in the Surrey job," he says. "That's fine, up to a point. That's why people employ me, because they know that I'll throw myself into the job with everything I have. I still feel some affinity with the squad. I signed most of them. But I have a family, too. And maybe I had moved away from that side of my life a bit through working too hard. I need to get the work-life balance better in the future.

"A couple of months ago I was running low on gas; much lower than I realised at the time. But I have my energy back now. I'm ready to return. I'm just looking for an opportunity to get stuck back in."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • GeoffreysMother on September 6, 2013, 12:12 GMT

    Surrey have been a bit of a laughing stock this year. Whether this is all down to Adams or not is a fair question to ask. Most teams these days seem to regard success as a balance between winning and developing a core of home grown players, and it is good to see the top two counties in Division 1 doing this ( indeed you could argue the top five). Perhaps Surrey's board was more keen on winning at all costs and that led to their much derided quick fix recruitment of of old 'stars'. I guess the answer will be to see if Surrey change tack over the winter and start giving more home grown players a chance next season

  • chris on September 6, 2013, 8:14 GMT

    An extraordinary one-eyed hagiography of a truly dreadful coach. any team considering hiring Adams should reflect on his achievements at the best resourced club in county cricket. With a fine young squad and blank cheque he decided to release young talent like Chris Jordan , Laurie Evans, Matt Spriegel (even James Anyon) in order to sign the likes of Lewis, Solanki, Keedy and de Bruyn- all at least a decade past their best and with no long term interest in the club. The degree of delusion required to make 22-year old Rory Hamilton-Brown the highest paid county cricketer and club captain after a handful of games should disqualify Adams from gainful employment at any sane county.

  • Pundit on September 5, 2013, 13:06 GMT

    He should try getting a job with Hampshire.....they need shaking up....can't even do justice in 2nd division! All about shorter game with help of overseas players. Lot of incapable people,who in normal industry will not survive. Cricket is still all about job for the boys.

  • Adam on September 5, 2013, 12:45 GMT

    He is certainly not everyone's cup of tea but there is no doubt the events of June last year changed much about the direction Adams was taking Surrey. Still, even before then, there were problems and some awful treatment of players like Ramprakash. There is a little of the David Brent about him.

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    think it was more of an Alec Stewart coup than a Chris Adams coup Nutcutlet - either way, it was a bad job recruiting a world class player with a chronic injury and just crossing your fingers hoping it wouldn't flare up..

  • Michael on September 5, 2013, 12:02 GMT

    i never held any ill will towards Adams, though one or two team selections were weird. I hope he is back and ready for action somewhere. Re Smith why not pay Batty the same? He's going to be doing the job anyway! The crux of the matter is that no-one is responsible for another's body so what Smith did not report who could know about. Most of Surrey's ills can be found in the pitches,I suspect, anyway. The quicker they relay the better then we may be able to use our attack properly

  • ian on September 5, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    Anyone who's fair-minded will wish Chris Adams well in whatever venture he undertakes next. As a Surrey supporter (and most genuine supporters of any team in any sport are always long-suffering) I am still at a loss to understand the Graeme Smith fracas. GS was the new messiah; the celebrated leader of the best Test team in the world, etc. His signing was hailed as Adams' coup. Surrey then became the pre-season favourites for many. Unfortunately, in all the excitement one matter was overlooked or discounted: GS arrived nursing a chronic ankle condition. He played four games & then was sidelined ufn. It's reported that he began rehab on his ankle in July with a view to returning in Oct. v Pakistan, but given the nature of these things, he may have his career curtailed by this curse. Surrey may not see him again. This raising of expectations, rapidly followed by their crashing back down, fell on Adams. Whether that's totally fair, I'm not sure, but attention to detail sure pays off!

  • Dummy4 on September 5, 2013, 10:22 GMT

    Never heard anyone have a good word to say about him

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