Former West Indies international Jimmy Adams has heaped praise on England hopeful Sam Northeast, comparing the Hampshire batsman to “a young Mohammad Azharuddin” in terms of batting style.
Adams, now Cricket West Indies director of cricket, saw the right-hander up close for the first time when he took over as head coach at Kent, Northeast’s former club, and was instantly impressed.
“I saw Sam batting for the first time one evening in early February, 2012 indoors in Canterbury,” Adams told the Two Hacks, One Pro podcast, of which Northeast is a host. “Rob Key [Kent captain at the time] had given me a bit of background on him before I got there. He said how talented he thought he was. I think he was 21 and he was going through his paces, guys were bowling at him and he was playing what I would call orthodox cricket. Good judgement, left alone a few… I was just having a browse really.
“I was having a look across at the two or three nets. I noticed how he held the bat, which was a bit quirky. And then somebody bowled a ball somewhere on middle and off, a little bit too full. Sam just sort of whipped it through wide mid-on. It was like watching a young Mohammad Azharuddin who had a particular grip that allowed him to do stuff that most people couldn’t do.”
Azharuddin is rated as one of India’s greatest batsmen, having scored 6,215 runs in 99 Tests at an average of 45.03, with 22 hundreds.
Northeast, 30, represented the England Lions in their victory over a strong Australia A side in February, and, since the start of 2015, has scored 5,225 first-class runs at an average of 49.76 in England, with 14 hundreds. However, he was not named in England’s 55-man training squad in March and is yet to make his Test debut. Adams, who scored 3,012 runs in 54 Test matches at an average of 41.26 for the West Indies, believes Northeast was one of the most talented players he has coached.
“I remember thinking to myself, ‘If this kid ever learns to bat in terms of putting an innings together, he’s going to kill people with that grip that he has’,” added Adams. “He just needs to concentrate and control it. It was fun watching him learn to bat. It took him a couple of seasons. He had all the raw material but to this day, I just feel that he has something that allows him to do special stuff that other people can’t do. It was fun watching that process over those five years.”