James Clive Adams was born on January 8, 1968. After playing regional cricket under the tutelage of the legendary Rohan Kanhai, he made his Test debut against South Africa in 1992 on their first ever tour of the West Indies.
Jimmy immediately impressed with both bat and ball, taking four wickets in the first innings and scoring 79 not out in a nail-biting West Indies win.
After his debut, Jimmy went on other West Indies tours unable at first to hold a steady place in the Test team but always impressing cricket afficionados with his cool temperament and tenacity. He was not a stroke maker in the tradition of West Indies greats but he was one of the most difficult batsmen to get out. I used to listen with amusement when Jamaican sportscaster Bobby Fray when reading the scorecard would say Jimmy Adams, “can’t out”.
The high point of Jimmy’s career was on the West Indies tour of India at the end of 1994 when he
scored 520 runs with two centuries for an average of 173.33. What is significant is that his teammate, the now legendary Brian Lara struggled on that tour even though he had become Test cricket and first class world record holder for highest individual scores.
As a result Jimmy climbed to number one on the Coopers and Lybrand ratings. In February 1995, the West Indies toured New Zealand where Jimmy
also did well. At this point of his career he averaged 87.35.
The Australians led by Mark Taylor came on tour to the West Indies in March. The likes of Craig McDermott, Glenn McGrath, and Shane Warne led the bowling attack. Jimmy along with his fellow West Indian batsmen struggled. The West Indies lost a home Test series for the first time in 22 years. This signaled the demise of West Indies cricket as well as Jimmy’s batting performances. His batting average at the end of the series fell to a still impressive 75.
The West Indies toured England that summer and Jimmy’s poor form continued. In addition to that he received a broken cheekbone after being hit while batting in
a tour match. According to critics that incident sapped Jimmy’s self-confidence. For the rest of his career his performances were inconsistent, sometimes being dropped for various Test matches. However it was during this period that he scored his highest ever Test score, 208 not out against New Zealand in Antigua in 1996.
Jimmy assumed the coveted position of captaincy but it did not revive either his or the West Indies’ fortunes. Jimmy gained the distinction of being the first Test cricket captain to lose seven consecutive matches. He played his final match as player and captain in January 2001 before being dropped.
At the end of his career Jimmy Adams had played 54 Test matches scoring 3012 runs at an average of 41.26. He played 90 innings, 17 times not out. He averaged, 61.34 runs per innings in the first half of his career and 25.58 in the second.
In retrospect, I wonder what efforts were made by the coaches to help Jimmy cope with the challenges that led to his declining performance.
While I was disappointed in Jimmy’s decline, I have always regarded him with a great deal of respect. He is an example of how far attitude can take you even when you have limited aptitude. Jimmy always conducted himself with gentlemanly sportsmanship on and off the field.
In 2006 Jimmy retired from playing cricket at all levels and continued his involvement with the game by going into coaching. In February of this year he had his first assignment as director of coaching by the West Indies Cricket Board where he is now able to continue serving West Indies cricket.
© A. Pierre Sobers 2017