So, Andre, you’re into your seventh season with Notts. Does Nottingham feel like home?
It does. I came over to play club cricket [for Kimberley] in 2000 and 2001 and I’ve been back every year since to catch up with my mates. I’ve seen the culture change here, especially as far as food goes – I’m a bit of a foodie – and for me it’s quite an arty town, quite funky, quite ‘now’ compared to some other places.
What was it like being a big-hitting batsman and a fast bowler playing on a fairly tiny ground at Kimberley? Did you not feel like a superhero?
I did actually (laughing). No, it was a really good experience. I was expecting the people to be more closed, maybe not as open as they were, so it was quite nice to come to England and feel like I was at home. Just a lot colder, that’s all. It was an interesting little town and I enjoyed it.
You played 42 One Day Internationals for New Zealand and just the one Test, yet you’ve been a very consistent performer in county cricket. So do you feel unlucky to have played as little international cricket as you did?
Yeah, maybe, maybe. It’s funny but all those feelings of anger, hard luck, or feeling hard done by have gone now. I feel very blessed to be playing here, in a city that I love and that feels like a second home. I picked a mate up who lived in London for ten years and he was blown away by Nottingham. It’s very New Zealand here: the people are lovely, the parks are good…
Happy in Notts [photo: Karl Bratby]
You don’t agree with the ‘Shottingham’ label, then…?
No, I don’t get that. I’ve never seen any guns while I’ve been here – which is a bit of a shame because I like going shooting. Just not in residential areas. But no, to me it feels so homely. We don’t hang out on street corners, or go through certain areas of town at 3 am, but, for me, the whole gun thing is only a [false] perception.
There’s basically no crime in New Zealand, isn’t there…?
That’s not necessarily true but I guess when there is a crime committed then it’s highlighted because there’s less crime.
Back to the cricket, is it fair to say Notts has given you fulfilment in your career?
Definitely. The standard of cricket here is exceptional. And to be able to play the purest form of the game – first-class cricket – at a great Test ground, one of the greatest Test grounds in the world, and to be an important part of the side, it’s a massive achievement as a New Zealander, and it gives me great pride to say that I play for Notts.
On the subject of being unlucky with international selection, Samit Patel and James Taylor have had a bit of a go with the England team (5 and 2 Tests) before being dropped. Do you think they’ve had a fair crack so far?
Um, am I going to be diplomatic here? I think James is in a situation where he’s fighting pretty hard with some good talent around him, and that can only be good for England. Joe Root, Johnny Bairstow, Jos Buttler in Twenty20, Ravi Bopara – they’re all smashing the door down. But if you keep piling the runs on then they can’t ignore you for long. But there’s a lot of talent fighting for that 3, 4, 5 spot so it’s going to be a hard road. For Samit, the biggest issue is staying fit, or what England perceive to be fit.
The Ashes are just round the corner, of course. As a Kiwi, I presume you hate both countries equally. So who would you prefer to win?
Well, that’s an interesting one (laughing). Ed Cowan’s become a good mate. Obviously Swanny and Broady are good mates and I know a lot of the English players. I get to watch with an interest in both camps and obviously I want my mates to do very well. For diplomatic reasons I’ll say that I want a positive result for England but as an ANZAC you always have an allegiance to Australia as well.
And who do you think will win?
Australia will have to bat very well against a very good attack. I can see it being a tighter series than it’s been forecast, but I can see it being 2-1 to England.
Andre's lethal bouncer
Do you think any of your other Notts teammates are going to make a splash this summer?
Well, Alex Hales has already made a splash as a Twenty20 batsman and I personally think he’s got the talent to make a good Test opener. He plays shots and scores big runs, can play the short ball pretty well, catches well. [Opening the batting in] Test cricket is about blunting an attack, number one, but after that it’s making sure you push on from there and possibly become a feared batsman to bowl at. Of the opening batsmen in England he’s probably the number one as far as being able to take a game away from the opposition.
Everyone at Trent Bridge must be excited about having the first Ashes game here. It’s a much loved venue among the press and supporters. Where does it rank for you?
For me, it’s always been the nicest ground in England as far as Test venues go – the nicest Test venue out of everywhere I’ve played around the world. Lord’s has so much history behind it and it’s a special place to play but it’s completely soulless when you play first-class cricket there. Very rarely do people come and watch and when they’re there they’re restricted in what they can and can’t do. But here the people seem to enjoy the cricket a bit more, and the members and a fair few of the public turn out even when it’s freezing cold. It was four degrees the other day and there were still people here, and for the most part the members are extremely positive and wonderful people.
The prettiest ground, looking out from the pavilion, is probably Worcester, with the cathedral and everything. And in New Zealand – although it’s a small ground – it’s Pukekura Park, New Plymouth, where they filmed one of the scenes in The Last Samurai. It’s got those Aztec-style terraced stands and it’s a really amazing ground to be at, to watch, a real sort of amphitheatre. But if someone asked me where I’d want to play my last game it would be here at Trent Bridge.
"For me, it's the nicest ground in the world" [image: the portrait collective]
There’s a strong New Zealand connection with Notts – Sir Richard Hadlee has one wing of the main stand named after him; Stephen Fleming skippered the team to the Championship in 2005; Chris Cairns and Nathan Astle both played here. Did that have any influence on you coming here?
I guess Mick [Newell, Director of Cricket] and ‘Flem’ were pretty tight. I wasn’t on the books with anyone as far as agents go [in 2007]. They wanted a specific type of bowler and ‘Flem’ suggested me. And that’s that. I always wanted to play first-class cricket here but back then – and this story’s been told a few times – I’d had enough of playing cricket. When I got the offer I actually said to the agent who rang me up saying a county wanted to sign me, ‘No, I’m not interested’. My wife said ‘Well, what if it’s Notts?’ I said, ‘No, it won’t be Notts’. He rang up in the morning and said ‘It’s Notts. It’s all sorted. You’re going’. And I said, ‘No, you didn’t hear what I was saying last night; I’m not interested’. So, I guess if you believe in fate you’d say that was fate. But, um, that connection to New Zealand with Fleming, Cairns and Hadlee – I definitely had a sense of ‘I must perform’. And also for the future generations of New Zealand cricketers, who’ll be representing New Zealand and flying the flag for what New Zealanders can do. If I didn’t do well then it could end a legacy, I guess, and I don’t want that to happen.
So, do you see yourself as a bowler or a bowling all-rounder?
I’m a bowler, mate (hearty chuckle).
The reason I ask is that, up in the press box, and in the stands, everyone loves watching you bat. The game moves forward quickly, as they say. But if I were your skipper I’d be pretty nervous. So, have you ever been bollocked for your cavalier approach to batting?
Nine times out of ten! Look, I think Mick [Newell] has accepted it. I guess because I can bat, and it’s perceived that I can bat – I’m not Chris Martin, you know, I can hold a cricket bat; so if people believe you can bat then, in their minds, you’re letting them down. So, there is a sense of pressure every time I go out to bat that I’m going to let the team down but also, you know, the spectacular results, when they come off, can be quite damaging for the opposition. They can change the momentum and that’s the way I like to do it.
So you never get sent out with specific instructions…?
They did for a while. They tried me as nightwatchman but that was a bit too eventful (laughs).
So, if you have had the odd bollocking that must mean Mick Newell’s capable of the hairdryer treatment…?
What’s that? [LeftLion explains about Sir Alex Ferguson’s method of addressing errant players.] Oh, I have received some vigorous dressings-down, yes. But he doesn’t hold a grudge. I don’t hold a grudge. I’m a mature person. You get them when you deserve them. And if you think you don’t deserve it, then you’re wrong.
Does anyone backchat him?
I tried to have a conversation while he was spraying me once and it wasn’t the right time to be having a conversation. So, we talked about it later.
Was it to do with batting?
Yes. And that’s fine. He never, ever, ever has a go about my bowling. Even when I’ve bowled a shower of shite he doesn’t have a go at my bowling. No, every dressing-down I’ve got, I’ve deserved.
And do all your teammates share that attitude, do you think?
Yeah, I’d say all bar one. And it’s actually quite entertaining because you talk about it and laugh about it afterwards. It’s passion. And when someone displays passion it means they give a shit, especially when they don’t do it all the time. If you have a robot who doesn’t show that passion, then it’s very hard to trust someone who doesn’t show you how they feel.
You don’t play limited overs stuff now…
No, I’m too old.
I think you played one of the Twenty20 quarter-finals in the last two seasons but basically Notts keep you for the Championship, which is great cricket but nowhere near as well attended. Do you miss the big crowds?
I do miss the big crowds but I don’t miss how I feel afterwards. It’s hard on the body. I love the big crowds and it’s good when your team’s doing well because these guys get so fired up, they get so emotional, the young fellas, when they play that when they’re doing well they’re like supermen. And it’s wonderful to see guys growing like that. Fourteen thousand people at a quarter-final – it’s a nice experience. You don’t get that at home.
"I'm a bowler, mate"
Did you know that every other county had been to Lord’s at least once since the last time Notts were there? I did some research. It was 1989, when Eddie Hemmings hit the last ball of the match for four to win. Notts have generally been a strong team, lost a T20 final here to Leicestershire, so why do you think they’ve not made a Lord’s final for so long?
I don’t know. It’s an interesting one. I guess that the 40-over cricket is used by Notts to blood the younger players and bring them through. And that’s quite an important process. In England Test cricket is the number one: you’ve got to win the Ashes. So, first-class cricket should be the number one achievement [at county level] for young guys. To make the first-class team for Notts you have to perform well at Second Team level, then in the 40-over cricket, and that’s how you make your way in. So I guess you could say that if you paid more attention to the Pro40 and wanted to win it, you could gear your team toward that. But Mick builds his team to win the Championship.
So do you enjoy the time off in mid-summer when Notts are playing T20? Yeah, I do. It gives me chance to get in the gym and get a bit stronger. It’s also a nice time of the year. My family get here around that time, so I get a week with them before I have to run away again, so that’s quite nice… Any opportunity to freshen up. You know, I like to bowl as many overs as I can, so normally by June, July I’m pretty tired. A three-week break to get refreshed is good.
I guess the highlight of your time here is the 2010 title, when you took the wicket that sealed the deal…?
No doubt. That’s the highlight of my whole cricketing career, with the exception of winning a Test match – that feeling was amazing, you know, and just as much jubilation as winning the Championship. But, no, I didn’t even think that feeling was in me still. The pure emotion that came out, the relief and the joy all in one, and then it was almost a case of looking back and thinking ‘Have we done it?’, and we’d done it.
"I didn't think that feeling was in me still": Adams secures the 2010 title
It was on a knife edge, wasn’t it? To get the 400, after all that rain, and then leave yourselves those few overs to get the three Lancashire wickets you needed…
We talked about this for two-and-a-half days. There was not one person that said ‘Let’s get a deal [over a contrived run chase]’. And we did try to get a deal but they wouldn’t have it. The deal was ridiculous so Ready [Chris Read] was never going to take it. So, from about Day Two onwards the team sat down where we were staying, in the Marriott somewhere, and said ‘Well, let’s just get 400 and then get three wickets’. So it was quite funny because it wasn’t just sprung on us. We had over two days to think about doing it that way. So the guys went off to the Trafford Centre, watched the rain fall, talked rubbish, and hung out and enjoyed each other’s company. Then Samit and [Adam] Voges went out and did what they did to set things up.
How many overs did you have in the end to get the three wickets?
Sixteen, I think. And it was always going to be enough. Ryan Sidebottom was bowling really well. I was bowling really well.
Shiv Chanderpaul could have been a potential obstacle…
Could have been, but I fancied getting whoever was at the other end (laughs). Paul Horton!
Was it a good night out in Manchester that night? Anyone embarrass themselves?
Well, I hung out with the sensible ones: Mark Wagh, Ready… We went somewhere that was a bit more loungey, a bit more relaxed.
But I’ve heard that Ready holds his ale the best.
He does, yeah. For a little fella he’s good.
The team spirit here is obviously good. I’ve noticed that you’ve got the most enthusiastic football warm-ups I’ve ever seen: ref, linesmen, pitch marked out with cones…
I loved the football warm-ups, where have they gone?! We had special goals, blow-up goals that were proper goals. You know, it’s such a long season that if you enjoy your warm-ups it makes you a better team. And there’s some good footballers in the team and we had very few injures with it.
Newell: hairdryer treatment and
ban on football warm-ups
Was that the reason it stopped – Luke Fletcher going through the back of people?
He just stayed in goal. Terrible in goal. No, it actually stopped because Andy Flower [England Coach] said our England players are not allowed to play it. So therefore Mick said ‘That’s it, we’re not playing’, which is a shame because I genuinely loved playing football. I’m terrible, but I love playing football.
On the subject of camaraderie, if you were to put a band together from your Notts teammates, who would feature?
Well Swanny would be lead singer. Harry Gurney would be in, ‘cos he plays the piano. Ed Cowan, ‘cos he’s a muso. Ajmal Shahzad for the Asian connection. And he looks good. Alex Hales would be the bouncer because he’s got that thick look – even though he’s not, he looks thick. Oh, Luke Fletcher would be on drums.
My genre! Something like acid jazz that doesn’t hurt your ears.
We don’t have any sledgers.
Lastly, you’re coming toward the end of your playing career. Have you given any thought to what you’re going to do?
Plenty. Plenty of thought. I’m very lucky. I’ve been doing a wee bit of coaching and I enjoy it, so I’m going to continue that at home in the off season. And there’s a few other things in the pipeline with a couple of mates. They’re not big ventures but they’re exciting ones for me. Ed Cowan’s talked about opening a deli. He loves his food, I love my food. It’s all hypothetical at this stage but it is quite nice to entertain these rubbish thoughts when you’ve got nothing else to do.
I’m not sure the English have all that sophisticated a palate.
See, I disagree. When I first got here – when it was pork pies and ale – I used to watch the cookery networks on TV, Jamie Oliver and a guy called Anthony Butterworth, just baking and stuff. Those guys and Gordon Ramsey have done amazing things for this country as far as food goes. And now there’s less and less acceptance of what used to be considered good food.
Any particular favourite eateries in Nottingham?
The Larwood and Voce is an excellent gastro pub. Fellicini’s is a huge step forward in Italian food. And Café Dre – I am the best BBQ chef in the West Bridgford area. Fact.