Adams powered by instinct

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The Independent Online

Andre Adams has been all over the New Zealand papers. That is to say, he has been granted leave of absence from the sports pages to be interviewed by female features writers about his background, his personality, his desires for the future. They are turning him into a star.

This is some treatment for a player who has been in nine one-day internationals with a top score of 28, best bowling figures of 3 for 13 and two catches. But it is not the figures which count, it is the method Adams has used to make them add up. That, and his exotic background.

He is a player of the sort England do not yet possess and could not. Adams is, by the definition of his estimable captain, Stephen Fleming, a free spirit and he is being allowed to flourish in a side with a nucleus of solid, long-serving individuals. They trust each other, and that allows them to trust newcomers.

Adams's unbeaten 28 came from 23 balls, when his team were in serious danger of blowing Saturday night's second one-day international in Wellington, and he finished it with a six over extra cover. The three-wicket haul came from an inspired spell with the new ball, with which he was being entrusted for the first time, and undermined England who were all out for 89.

Adams comes from Auckland, but his ancestry is West Indian, his father from St Vincent, his mother from Guyana. Their boy, Andre, is a calypso cricketer all right.

"It's important to be able to play naturally and that I'm able to do," he said. "They're letting me trust my instincts which is what I like. It relaxes you straight away. All this is more than I expected."

The margins in one-day cricket are exceedingly fine. Adams was brought in by the Kiwis last year as the sort of fellow who could bat explosively in the late middle order and bowl at the death of the opposition innings, qualities which can tilt those margins decisively.

Fleming knows he has something special if unpredictable. It would be wrong to say that they gave Adams, known as "Dray", his head immediately. He was 12th man for a while when he was first drafted into the squad a year ago by Sir Richard Hadlee, the chairman of selectors, and was not an automatic choice initially on the recent tour of Australia. He will not be omitted hurriedly again.

"When you've got a majority of senior players who've played a lot of games it's a lot easier to introduce younger players and get them to perform, probably above expectation," Fleming said. It is still conceivable that Adams may be here today, gone tomorrow, but he has the faith of Hadlee, who was impressed by his seam bowling in Wellington.

Adams is 26, but considering that he did not start playing cricket properly until he was 20 this makes him young in any terms. He did not manage to get into the first team at school.

"I couldn't bat properly when I was younger. When I was 20 I learned to bat properly and hit the ball hard. You don't have to be good to like it. I've got West Indian blood so it's a pretty hard game to turn away from."

Adams claims to have Test aspirations but would also be perfectly happy with his current lot. He looks as though he could be a perfect modern one-day specialist, an explosive turner of games. He will not always succeed, but he will invariably be worth seeing.

* Ashley Giles, the England spin bowler, became a father for the second time yesterday. His wife, Stine, gave birth to a 8lb 7oz girl, Matilde.