Cup Match legends: Adrian King
During the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a host of talented Caribbean cricketers graced Cup Match.
These wonderfully gifted individuals each brought their own unique character, style and skills to the game. They included Colin Blades, Robert Hinds, Tyrone Smith, Winston Reid, Rupert Scotland, Lionel Thomas and this week’s legend, Adrian King.
It was rumoured that my father, Mansfield “Bojangles” Smith (a former Customs officer), signed up Adrian for Cup Match upon his arrival to the airport. It is interesting to note that Adrian played his first Cup Match the same year that he arrived in Bermuda, in 1978, to work as a policeman.
Name: Anslem Adrian King
Date of birth: March 8, 1952 (St Vincent and the Grenadines)
Start in cricket: I played a lot in the backyard and, really, in any open space that we could find. We’d cut down trees and make a ball out of the bark by rolling it up, or we’d smash up a tin can and use that for the ball. In respect to our bats, we’d use a coconut tree branch. I went to a private school and did not play much cricket there until my later years. I started as a batsman and we’d play at recess and after school. I started to let the other children bat first, so I had to bowl them all out before I could get my hit.
Length of cricket career: I began playing official cricket for the Combined Schools as a senior in high school. That year we went undefeated, playing in the premier league. I was called up to the national team in 1971 and played for Windward Islands in 1972. (King played Cup Match from 1978 to 1987 and bowled 228 overs, taking 35 wickets for 721 runs)
Role on the team: Opening bowler.
Childhood memories in the game: I played a lot with my cousins in the neighbourhood. We couldn’t buy cricket balls so we’d make them. I didn’t play cricket at my primary schools as they did not have it.
Teams played for: Police, West Indian Residents XI, St George’s Cup Match, 1982 Bermuda ICC Trophy team.
Favourite local match you played in: My first Central Counties match against Devonshire Rec. We were 78 for nine and I was partnered with George Jackson. We put on 107 runs to establish a tenth-wicket batting record. Later, I helped to “clean them out”. We won the match and went on to win the Central Counties.
Best international feat: That would be the ten for 107 against the Australians. That team included Bob Simpson and Bruce Yardley. During another match against England, I took three of the first four wickets and Geoff Boycott got away, as he snicked me between the slip fieldsmen.
Favourite venue: Police Field. It was one of the better-prepared pitches on the Island.
Favourite international player: Lawrence Rowe. He was such an easy-flowing batsman; so effortless.
No 1 supporter: It wasn’t my mom, as she never came to my games and never listened on the radio. It was probably the guys from Canouan (one of the Grenadine islands). They were very proud of my accomplishments.
Pre-match routine(s): The night before a game, I never went out and never drank any alcohol. I would go to my bed early, but not be able to sleep. I would play the whole game in my head, thinking about all the top opposition batsmen and how I was going to bowl to them. I would arrive to the game one hour before the match, have a good warm-up and then take a shower.
Favourite dish while playing: I am a fish person. If that was on the menu, then that is what I’d eat. I didn’t eat much else, as I am a picky eater and I’m used to cooking for myself.
Biggest regret in your career: Two things, really. One, I always reflect on what could have happened had I not come to Bermuda. That is, would I have been able to make the West Indies team? Second, I was disappointed not to be included in the 1979 ICC Trophy team, as I had been in contact with Clayton Butterfield (then cricket board secretary) while I was abroad. I was super-fit that year.
Any superstitions: None, really, although I always had to go pee just before every match.
Funniest thing you have seen in cricket: There are two things that stand out. One was seeing my opening bowling partner for the Combined Schools turn this chap right around by a delivery that moved sharply. In the end, the guy’s back was facing down the wicket. The second time occurred while I was bowling to a chap in the West Indies. Every time I bowled a delivery, he would commentate as he batted, ie. “And no, this one is played back down the wicket by George, who has his bat and pad together. George has a very tight defence and there’s no way through for King.” This carried on for a while with the guy commentating his every shot. Eventually, I clean-bowled him with a yorker.
Hobbies: Reading, coaching high school football and cooking.
A key to your success: Being very disciplined in what I do. I kept myself in very good shape, running hills and beaches.
Advice to today’s cricketer: Today’s cricketers need to be dedicated and work hard. Know your ability, go for what you want and work hard.
Motto you believe in: If someone dropped a catch off me, I would try harder. I always believed that I could still get the batsman out.
As a former opening batsman, I have played with and against many of the best pace bowlers ever to grace our fields. Anthony Edwards, Terry Burgess, Roger Blades, Winston Trott, El James, Kenny Phillip, Lee Raynor and Dale Fox are among those who readily come to mind. Truth be told, if I were selecting a pace bowler for a “Bermuda Dream Team”, Adrian King’s name would be the first on the list. Not only was he supremely fit, but he was the quickest of the lot. He could be frighteningly fast. I can recall a Cup Match played at Somerset Cricket Club in the 1980s, during which Adrian was bowling with particular venom. When the Somerset second innings was about to commence, the usual opening batsman did not come out to bat. Instead a middle-order batsman walked out to the pitch. We were informed that the regular opener was engaged in an extended toilet break. That Caribbean flavour certainly had a significant and memorable impact on our midsummer classic.