JIMMY Adams is hoping to go further than he did at last year’s T20 Champions League – by ensuring more heartache for his former Auckland Aces teammates.
Having helped Auckland win their domestic T20 tournament (the HRV Cup) in 2010/11, Adams played as one of their overseas players during last year's Champions League qualifiers in India.
But he was soon on his way home following back-to-back defeats; a two-run loss against the Kolkata Knight Riders and a four-wicket reverse against Somerset.
Adams will face his former Auckland teammates again on Wednesday, when Hampshire play the first of their two qualifiers at Supersport Park, Centurion.
“I spent four days in Hyderabad last year so although it was a very brief experience,” recalls Adams, who made 18 and 0 in the two games.
“The ground was only half full when we played Kolkata in our first game but it was still one of the loudest crowds I’ve played in front of.
“The big thing for us now is to get through into the main comp. Fingers crossed that’s the case.”
Auckland’s squad contains many familiar faces for Adams, including New Zealand internationals Martin Guptill and Kyle Mills and former Black Caps Andre Adams and Lou Vincent.
“It will be a tough first match, they’re a strong side that hasn’t really changed,” says Adams. “I didn’t play too much with Martin, who’s a fantastic player, because he was away with the Black Caps, but I’ve played with most of them and Azhar Mahmood, their overseas pro, is also familiar.
“I think Azhar bats at three, so they will hope for a lot of momentum at the start. They bowl well at the death and the spinners in the middle are high-class. [Slow left-armer] Ronnie Hira has just been called up for the Black Caps."
Adams’ move to Auckland came about when he was recommended by Sean Ervine, after his outstanding form in 2010 – when he topped the domestic run charts - helped Hampshire win their first t20 cup at West End.
“Their coach, Paul Strang, touched base with [former Zimbabwe teammate] Slug and it went from there,” Adams explained.
“I came back off a good season and they wanted someone to be there for the duration of the tournament.
“I was lucky to play for a very strong Auckland side. We all contributed, a bit like this Hampshire side has done.
“I look back on that time really fondly, it was a great experience in a lovely place. I would recommend playing out there to anyone, given the opportunity.
“They’re a great bunch of blokes who looked after me really well. It was tough old cricket and a nice change from the English winter.
“I would love to get back out there at some point. I felt I needed a break last year but in hindsight it would have been good to get out there again, especially as they won!”
Adams was not at his best for Auckland for most of the 2010/11 HRV Cup but was man of the match for his 43-ball 62 in the final against Central Districts.
“I chipped in with a few but the final was the first time I made more than 50,” he said.
It was a similar story during this year’s FLt20, Adams’ 43 in the final against Yorkshire being his highest score of the tournament.
“Maybe I put too much pressure on myself to live up to the mental year I had a few years ago,” he said. “Sometimes you get a bit ahead of yourself.”
For now, Adams is looking ahead no further than a huge game against his former teammates, who contest the first Pool A qualifier with the Sialkot Stallions (Pakistan) at the Wanderers today.
It would certainly be cruel if he and Dimi Mascarenhas – who went out in the Champions League qualifiers with another Kiwi side, Otago, in 2009 – miss out at the first hurdle for a second time.