By Joseph “Reds” Perreira
Next Saturday, October 31st, Atlantis Cricket Club – NY is set to honor Adam Sanford; bestowing on the former West Indies Test fast bowler Honorary Lifetime Membership. It is an honor the New York based club has bestowed upon a dozen other former Test greats, including Clive Lloyd, Lance Gibbs, Andy Roberts, Alvin Kallicharran, Basil Butcher, Joe Solomon, Curtly Ambrose, Lawrence Rowe, Roger Harper, Gus Logie, Clayton Lambert, and the only female former West Indies Test cricketer among the lot, Stephanie Power.
Adam Sanford who turned 40 this summer, shares the same birthday, July 12th, with his former teammate and fellow West Indian, Neil McGarrell.
Born in Dominica, Adam is generally acknowledged as the second indigenous Carib to represent the region in Test cricket, following in the footsteps of Guyana’s Ivor Mendonca, who kept wicket for the West Indies in two Tests in 1962 – hitting 78 in his first innings and stumping a young Farook Engineer off Lance Gibbs. Ivor’s nephew Clive, was a successful striker in the English Football League from 1986-2002 and was a cult hero at both Grimsby and Charlton Athletic. Uncle Ivor sadly succumbed to cancer last year.
Sanford’s professional cricket career as an effective fast-medium bowler can be split into three parts.
Part 1: The prologue, began with the 21-year-old Sanford appearing in a single match for the Windward Islands in 1997 vs. Guyana in Grenada. In it he induced Travis Dowlin to hit his own wicket to be his first 1st-class victim; and chipped in with a useful 30 not out batting at number 11, as the Windwards totally outplayed the visitors but couldn’t quite force the win. Thus ended Part 1 of his cricket career. Was that it?
Was Sanford destined to be that rare creature, a one-match wonder, a mere footnote in the region’s rich cricket history? It was almost five years later when Part 2, the main feature, got underway.
Part 2: The second phase of Adam’s life saw him relocating to Antigua and continuing to play the game he loved, when not working as a policeman. And his performances now merited his return to the 1st-class game. Thus in January 2002, with Port-of-Spain as the venue, he played for the Leeward Islands vs. Trinidad & Tobago. Just over two months later he made his Test Match debut. With 41 wickets at an average of 25.1 that season, he had forced his way into the West Indies side versus India. He took 15 wickets at a respectable 34.9 as Windies under Carl Hooper won the 5-match series 2-1.
But what a parade of great and notable names he included amongst his list of scalps! He got rid of Harbajan Singh and Zaheer Khan twice each; Anil Kumble; VVS Laxman; Sourav Ganguly (twice); Rahul Dravid (twice); but perhaps most memorably he bowled Sachin Tendulkar for 41 at Sabina Park, and had the little master LBW for 0 at Queen’s Park Oval.
He followed up with Mark Richardson, Craig MacMillan, Scott Styris, Daniel Vettori and Stephen Fleming as his five wickets in the subsequent series with New Zealand – but the visitors won 1-0.
He was dropped after that series, but was recalled late the following year for the tour of South Africa – and added Herschelle Gibbs, Jacques Rudolph, Makhaya Ntini, Andre Nel, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis to his list of victims. West Indies lost that series 3-0; and soon after also lost 3-0 at home to England. Adam featured in the first two Tests – picking up Ashley Giles, Michael Vaughan and Nasser Hussain – but those were his last. And that was that it seemed for his international career. He played for a further four seasons in domestic Caribbean cricket for the Leeward Islands, finishing with 155 first-class wickets for them at an average of 28.9, and overall career figures of 198 wickets at a touch over 30 runs each. End of Part 2.
Epilogue: As Adam himself said in an interview last year it was his wife who inspired him, and drove him to keep on playing when he once again relocated, this time to the USA. “Come on Sanford, you can still do it. Why don’t you do it?” She encouraged him. And he did, and does.
And thus Part 3 of his playing career – and a return to international cricket which saw him playing three times for his adopted country in the qualifiers of the 2014 ICC T20 World Cup alongside Neil McGarrell – both men joining that odd and fairly short list of cricketers to have played for more than one country.
Victory over Canada was followed by defeat to Italy and a win over Denmark – and Adam had names like Rizwan Cheema, Jimmy Hansra and Yasir Iqbal to put alongside Vettori, Vaughan, VVS Laxman, Ganguly, Dravid and Dowlin. Adam loved representing the West Indies and playing with the likes of Brian Lara, Shiv Chanderpaul and Carl Hooper. “These guys were my heroes,” he said. And there was never a bigger hero in cricket than Sachin Tendulkar. In 200 Test matches across 24 years he was only dismissed for a duck 14 times and by 11 different men. One of those was Adam Sanford.
Humanitarian: Earlier this summer Hurricane Erika devastated the tiny island of Dominica, the original homeland of Adam Sanford, taking 34 lives and leaving a massive swath of destruction. Adam stepped right up to make a positive impact as a cricketer turned humanitarian.
Along with his wife Jo, the pair has shipped more than 16 barrels of much needed supplies from New York to Dominica, as relief for those affected by the hurricane.
Atlantis Cricket Club – NY recognized the humanitarian effort of one cricketer and agreed that his effort should not go unrecognized, so in keeping with its motto – Atlantis…More than just cricket! The club will make a financial contribution from its Shevonne Mentis Educational Scholarship Fund and part proceeds of its 2015 awards dinner, to the Coulibistrie Primary School in Dominica, devastated by the recent hurricane, and in the name of Adam Sanford. The particular school was selected by the former Test pacer himself. In addition Atlantis will add the name Adam Sanford to its illustrious list of Honorary¬ Lifetime Members.
Congratulations to Adam Sanford on his award, and hats off to Atlantis for continuing to recognize that there is more to cricket and cricketers, than a bat and a ball.
This year’s Atlantis Cricket Club – NY Dinner & Awards Presentation is Saturday, October 31 at the Adria Hotel & Conference Center, 220-17 Northern Boulevard, Bayside, NY. Cocktails are at 8:00pm and the awards ceremony and dinner is at 9:00pm followed by dancing. Donation: $50. Cash Bar with door prizes awarded. For more information call (917) 861-9110 or inbox Atlantis via Facebook at www.facebook.com/Atlantis Cricket Club – NY.