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Sussex win county title
Trent Bridge: 20-22 September

By Oliver Brett

Chris Adams with the Trophy
Adams has brought regular champagne and trophies to Sussex

Chris Adams is a man who divides opinions.

He was once branded "hypocritical" by Hampshire after a war of words with Shane Warne about sledging.

But after leading Sussex to their second County Championship title in four years, he is a captain who commands respect.

They also collected the C&G Trophy by beating Lancashire at Lord's to make it the best season ever for cricket's oldest county.

But who is the man his team-mates call "Grizzly"? How did he manage to bring the glory years to the south coast soon after his brief England career hit the buffers?

Somerset captain Ian Blackwell and former England batsman John Morris were both team-mates of Adams at Derbyshire in the 1990s.

He's been able to express himself at Sussex, which he wasn't able to do at Derby

Ian Blackwell

"He is quite an aggressive character. The way he went about his cricket proved to me that this was a serious cricketer," says Blackwell.

Morris shares that opinion, saying: "He was always a feisty character and enjoyed winning - and that to me has never been a problem."

Adams felt frustrated towards the end of his 10 years at Derbyshire, where he was not given the chance to captain the side.

Blackwell explains: "Under the regime of [Derbyshire captains] Kim Barnett and Dominic Cork there were various problems starting to creep in.

Chris Adams
Adams pictured towards the end of his career at Derbyshire

"He's been able to express himself at Sussex, which he wasn't able to do at Derby."

Morris adds: "Chris wanted to be a captain. That was part of his make-up - he wanted to be the front man.

"He's certainly transformed Sussex cricket. They have an excellent squad but he's been the figurehead."

Pakistani ace Mushtaq Ahmed has been Adams's right-hand man, taking over 100 wickets in the two seasons in which Adams has lifted the Championship trophy.

His leg-breaks have never fizzed as well as they have since he arrived at Hove and both Blackwell and Morris agree Adams deserves credit for getting the most out of Mushy.

"Mushtaq, a high quality performer, was just floating about in the game," says Morris.

"He had gone out of the system but was then talked back into county cricket and has bowled Sussex to two Championships.

"So yes, Chris - along with the coaches Peter Moores and Mark Robinson - all deserve a lot of credit for Mushtaq's success."

Since the two players moved to their current counties, Blackwell has played against Adams on a handful of occasions.

If he's enjoying his cricket, why should he retire?

John Morris

"He's tactically aware. He knows when to put an extra slip in and it helps to have healthy knowledge of the opposition, knowing where the strengths and weaknesses are," says the Somerset man.

But how much more will we see of 36-year-old Adams as a player?

Morris says: "He's a personal friend of mine and I got a text from him at the start of the season asking me how old I was when I retired.

"He had just been hit by a bouncer, but I think he was joking. If he's enjoying his cricket, why should he retire?

"I would imagine he would want to stay involved in the game when his playing days are over.

"I think there may well be people who would be keen to offer him a coaching position."

One thing is certain, Adams the coach is likely to be just as keen as Adams the captain to encourage an aggressive brand of cricket.

And as far as Sussex fans are concerned, that's the right way to play the game.


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