Paul Adams: The Weirdo!
If a player makes his international debut at the early of 18 years there has to be something unique about him. Unfortunately, the only unique thing people remember about Paul Regan Adams is his weird ‘frog in a blender’ action.
Once in every few years comes a player whom you can identify even in the crowd of thousands because of their unique style and approach towards the game. Players like Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Lasith Malinga and Jasprit Bumrah belong to this category but no cricket fan can ever get the image of Paul Adams bowling his chinaman deliveries while facing towards the sky out of his head. It was an incredibly beautiful sight. It was an art in itself which was mastered by this man.
About the Art!
Bowling the left arm unorthodox spin or Chinaman as it is popularly known is very difficult in itself. It requires a lot of practice to get control over the deliveries and gain accuracy. This is the reason why we don’t see too many chinaman spinners at international level. It is almost an endangered art.
Paul Adams what only not a master of this art but he did it with such a difficult action that he should be appreciated more. All their lives bowlers are told to practice by keeping their head straight at the point of release and to look at the spot where they want to pitch the ball. Then there was Adams, whose head used to twist full 360 degrees before releasing the ball and still he was able to get incredible accuracy.
He once said, “People think I can’t see the batsman when I bowl, but I can. When I drop my head, I can still see him in my mind’s eye. It comes from practice. It is not just luck.” Indeed it comes from practice and hours of hard work.
Even today people mock him for his action. Social was full of his trolls when Shivil Kaushik displayed a similar action. Imagine how difficult it would have been growing up for him. One of his school teachers was quoted saying, “When he first bowled, the other team used to laugh at the way he bowled, But when he started taking their wickets, they were not laughing anymore.” It says a lot about his character.
When he was selected in the South African team in place of Pat Symcox, it was seen as a politically driven decision in favour of a black player. Even the South African captain Hansie Cronje came out in media and said, “This is a sacrifice that smacks of political expediency, for Adams has not been bowling well this season.”
Adams responded with his performance with the ball and became an important part of the side in a very small period of time. He was able to win the trust of his captain back who justified himself by saying, “He has his control back and we are learning all the time. He has really come along and is now an integral part of our bowling attack.”
The Number Game!
Adams became the youngest player to represent South Africa in Test cricket back then and impressed everyone by picking up 3 wickets in the first innings itself. He made his ODI debut a year later against New Zealand. With 134 Test wickets to his name he is still the leading left arm spinner from South Africa. He also picked up 29 wickets in One Day Internationals. He also has 412 first-class wickets to his name with the career best figures of 9/79. He picked up a 5-wicket haul against India in Kanpur against a batting line up which was considered good against spin bowling.
These are not the numbers of a player with just a unique action. These are the numbers of a player who honed his skills by spending hours in nets. These are the numbers of a player who took all the criticism right on his face and turned his critics into his admirers with his amazing performances and yet he was forced to retire prematurely from international cricket at the young age of 27. The frog never got into the blender again.
It is sad how players like him never get enough recognition and appreciation.
CrickGeek salutes the master of Art! Take a bow, Paul Adams.