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

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