Adams' biggest test yet awaits him

by Colin Croft
Stabroek News
March 12, 2000

Now that the furore has died down somewhat as to the status of Brian Lara and his participation in the 2000 Caribbean season, let us get down to the real task at hand. The West Indies cricket team still has to play real cricket, on the fields of play. Hopefully, it will be proper cricket.

With Lara unavailable, for whatever reason, the immediate task of getting the West Indies Test cricketers into a competitive unit on the field of play falls on Roger Harper, the new coach, Ricky Skerritt, the new manager, and especially the new captain, James Clive Adams.

Adams' appointment is not really a surprise. While, under normal circumstances, he may have struggled to even maintain his place in the West Indies XI, so dismal has been his batting this year, these are not normal times. Right now, most of all, the West Indies cricket team needs a good captain so desperately that even if he were a non-playing captain, he might be acceptable if he could galvanize these players to better performances.

At this stage in time in West Indian cricket, one must believe that the priority of runs and wickets must, ironically, take a backseat, despite the forum of the game, to bringing this team out of the hole they are in.

One of the most determined batsmen in the world, Jimmy Adams was rated No. 1 in the world about five years ago when his Test batting average was about an astronomical 150. That has decreased to a still very credible, but more normal 45.60 from 39 Test appearances. At 32, once he performs creditably, Adams should see many more Test matches, either as captain or as a normal player.

When fully fit and firing, something which has been badly missing lately, he is probably the best utility cricketer in the world and has a particularly infectious, extremely positive attitude towards cricket. He bowls left arm tweakers well when needed and can even be a wicket-keeper when needed, especially in one day games. Add the fact that he is always one of the better fieldsmen in the West Indies cricket team and you can come up with a very intense, involved and talented cricketer, even though, of late, some of his cricketing talents have become less obvious.

If anything, the intensity of playing for the West Indies, and trying to win, sometimes seem to overwhelm the need to really enjoy the games at hand. Now that he has been made captain, perhaps that intensity would be well placed as, never before, as the focus, intensity and effort from Adams and his collective lieutenants would not only be needed but will be necessary for the results to be anywhere as positive as they and the rest of the West Indies want them to be.

As things are, even with his recent failure with the bat, Jimmy Adams is one of the few people really qualified, at this particular point in time in West Indies cricket, to take over the captaincy of a team in such a volatile and non-performing environment. His personal qualities probably outweigh his cricketing qualities, even if the latter would also be much needed over the next three months.

Cricket-wise, he has been the vice captain, and perhaps more, to Brian Lara for a few tours, the last one being to New Zealand, the latest West Indian cricketing debacle, late last year. He was, only last week, the captain of the Jamaican team which won the Busta Cup competition, the pinnacle of the 2000 Caribbean first class cricket season. In the final game, so poor has been his batting efforts, Adams got his first half century of the year after more than six games.

Adams's skill as a leader of men is going to be much more important than his abilities as a captain. Having been one of the Players' Representatives in meetings with the representatives of the West Indies Cricket Board, perhaps Jimmy Adams is better qualified than most to really understand what is necessary to communicate with the WICB. It does seem that most Caribbean people do not know what is needed to understand the WICB.

To quote a Jamaican friend of mine; "Jimmy Adams possesses the cricketing skills, the communication skills and especially the ambassadorial skills to enable him to converse well with prince and peasant alike when appointed captain." Considering that he has been around, as vice-captain, while the beating in New Zealand took place, one must ask as to where those skills were then. Whatever the case, it is necessary that Adams immediately communicate the objective to his charges.

With his best friend and confidante Brian Lara not available for continuing communications, Adams will have to rely probably more heavily than ever before on his aging fast bowling lieutenants, Curtly Ambrose and compatriot Courtney Walsh, for help. At least, Harper, the new coach, is in the same age group, so he could also be something of a great aid, technically and psychologically.

At least, one cannot fault Adams yet. Already, like Brian Lara and others before him in the capacity, he is saying the correct things: "We now have a new coach and a new manager. Now that I have been appointed as the new captain, the only suggestion that I could have is that we have some cohesiveness in our game and that we can start winning and go from strength to strength to at least curtail this recent ritual of losing. For the new millennium, it is important that we, as cricketers, bring back some smile on Caribbean faces everywhere."

That type of rhetoric has been very evident from Brian Lara, Courtney Walsh and Richie Richardson, the last three West Indies captains, all big losers in that position. For his own safety, Adams should shy away from such crappy pronouncements that really make no sense.

Everyone knows that they want to win, or at least, should want to win.

What everyone needs to see is that these representatives of ours can act out their rhetoric, even in a losing cause. The least they can do is play well, something non-existent over the last five years, except for a few Test matches here and there. There is no more time to waste!!