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Ex-England star Chris Adams recalls wanting to be Botham and facing Allan Donald on a hat-trick on Test debut

Former Derbyshire and Sussex batsman Chris Adams scored nearly 20,000 first-class runs, 48 hundreds and played five Tests for England. 

Here, he remembers hero-worshipping Ian Botham in his first Test as a fan – and facing Allan Donald on a hat-trick in his first as a player.

ENGLAND v PAKISTAN, Headingley, August 1982

“I was 12 and I went to Headingley for the Test with my brother and a group of young men from our cricket club. Ever since I can remember I’d been playing cricket in the garden with my brother or watching Dad play for Staveley Miners Welfare in what was the Bassetlaw League.

“I was an all-rounder rather than a batsman growing up and two of the greatest, Ian Botham and Imran Khan, were playing. Botham and Daley Thompson were my heroes. I idolised Botham and wanted to be him.

“We sat in the Western Terrace, which was always an experience, especially aged 12! It was known for people wearing fancy dress and being very vocal but it was cold that day and there weren’t that many in the crowd.

“Everyone was wrapped up warm. Even Botham looked like he was wearing three or four jumpers! I wanted to see him bat but it was a bowling day for England with Botham and Bob Willis in action. The older lads were waxing lyrical about Javed Miandad and I remember it was a big thing when we got his wicket.

“I came away wanting to play exactly like Botham. But I don’t remember thinking of cricket as a career. Back then you played because you enjoyed it and I just wanted to have an impact for my team. Even in my first professional season at Derbyshire I only earned £3,000.

“I first met Botham later on at a Scunthorpe United football match and fortunately I also played against him a few times. He’s a good friend now. To me he’s also still the greatest cricketer England has ever produced. He played with such great passion, belief and positive intent. There were no negative thoughts whatsoever.

“A few years after that trip to Headingley my brother took me out of school, saying our grandmother was very ill. We walked out and I asked what was wrong. He told me she was fine and we were going to Chesterfield to watch Derbyshire v Somerset, who had Botham, Viv Richards and Joel Garner in their side.”

SOUTH AFRICA v ENGLAND, New Wanderers, November 1999

“People remember my first Test because England were 2 for 4 on the first morning! I was next in at number six and my first ball was a hat-trick ball from Allan Donald.

“Alec Stewart had gone in at five. Alec had a meticulous dressing-room routine of getting his sweatbands, his gloves, his helmet on and making sure everything was immaculate. I didn’t want to disturb him and waited until he’d left to put my pads on.

“There was an almighty roar the next ball when he was hit on the toe and given out LBW. I remember Darren Gough rushing to help me quickly get my pads on.

“Not being padded up when you’re suddenly in is a recurring nightmare cricketers have and it was happening to me on Test debut at 2 for 4! Fortunately, there was an extended TV ad break because of everything going on.

“Strangely, I didn’t feel all that nervous because I’d played Donald and [Shaun] Pollock in county cricket. I knew Donald would look to bowl a yorker into middle and leg. I was ready for it. He bowled exactly that ball and nailed it but I managed to dig it out.

“In Test cricket everything is quicker – the bowling, your heart-rate. But I put one over backward point for four to take us to the lofty heights of 6 for 4. I scored 16 and was a bit unlucky to get out to Donald, caught down the leg side off the top of my bat handle and a bit of glove.

Michael Vaughan scored a few and Freddie Flintoff scored a few but we were out for about 120 half way through the first day [122 all out in 41.4 overs].”