The influence of new head coach Jimmy Adams is being strongly felt at Canterbury even before a ball is bowled in the 2012 campaign. The signing of Brendan Nash as Kent’s overseas player for the entire summer is an early indicator of the Adams approach and the qualities he values.
Nash, who has played 21 Tests and nine one-day internationals for the West Indies, is a Jamaican left-hander who bats in the middle order – just like Adams himself. He is an understated cricketer, determined and adhesive at the crease rather than a flamboyant strokemaker – again, just as Adams was in his own 54 Tests and 202 first-class matches for West Indies, Jamaica, Nottinghamshire and others.
Yet it is character, even more than ability, that has illuminated Nash’s cricket career to date, and it is largely for his personal qualities that Adams has decided to bring the former Queensland player to Kent.
Nash is the sort of player every team needs if it is going to be successful. He has provided grit, know-how and ‘glue’ in all the Queensland, Jamaica and West Indies teams he has represented – and he will no doubt do the same at Kent, a county which in recent seasons has had to lose experience and promote youth out of sheer financial necessity.
Adams will see Nash, a former West Indies Test vice-captain, as an ideal lieutenant to the experience of Rob Key, the Kent captain, but also as a mentor to younger talents like Sam Northeast, Daniel Bell-Drummond and Alex Blake and a natural foil in the middle-order batting to the strokemakers Darren Stevens and Geraint Jones.
The son of a Jamaican Olympic swimmer, Nash was widely reported as being the first white man to play for the West Indies since Geoff Greenidge in 1973 when he was selected for a one-day international in August 2008. He is, in fact, of mixed race.
His parents Paul and Andrea moved from Jamaica to Western Australia just months before he was born, in December 1977, and when the family later moved to Brisbane he progressed from youth and grade cricket there into the Queensland state side in 2001.
Nash scored his maiden first-class hundred in 2002, and also demonstrated an ability to bowl nagging left-arm medium pace as well as field brilliantly. But, when he was not awarded a Queensland contract for the 2007-08 season, he decided to relaunch his career by moving to the West Indies.
It was an imaginative but brave decision, not least when he was racially abused at early Jamaica team trials. Due to his parentage, however, he has always felt Jamaican – and Caribbean in outlook – and early support from Chris Gayle, his first Jamaican captain, helped him to settle quickly.
Nash scored 117 as Jamaica beat Trinidad and Tobago in the KFC Cup final during his first season in West Indian domestic cricket, in 2007-08, and his Test debut arrived in December 2008 when he was chosen against New Zealand. His maiden Test hundred came against England in early 2009.
Dropped by West Indies after the first Test of last year’s series against India, in June, he lost his WICB central contract in October 2011. Batting for Jamaica late last month, however, against Guyana, Nash scored an unbeaten 205. It is a canny signing by Adams and, very soon, two tough and canny Jamaicans will be united in Kent’s cause.