At times, after joining the Bears academy as a 15-year-old, Adair seemed set to become the next first-team seam-bowling all-rounder. He played 11 first-team games across the three formats and showed more than enough ability in them to underline his potential.
Ill-luck with injuries hampered Adair’s progress however and it was not to work out for him at Edgbaston. But following the blow of his release, he dusted himself down and bounced back. He is now one of Ireland’s 19 senior contracted players – and regards his time with Warwickshire as, in many ways, the making of him as both cricketer and person.
I am so proud whenever I represent my country and then to play in the Lord’s Test was just amazing. I remember seeing Chris Woakes and Olly Stone out there and that relaxed me. There was the five of us – Woakesy, Olly, Will Porterfeld, Boyd Rankin and myself – and Moeen Ali as well so the Test was a real Warwickshire reunion.Mark Adair
“I had a lot of good times at Warwickshire and there were a lot of learning experiences as well,” he said. “I went into the Bears academy at 15 and was at the club until I was 21 so they are pretty key years and I had a lot of growing up to do. I certainly learned a lot about myself.
“I had a few injuries which was quite tough when all I wanted to do was play cricket. It wasn’t easy going from stress-fracture to stress-fracture. I played a few T20s and did okay and also played a couple of championship games. But I played at home to Notts in the championship in 2016 and was bowling around the wicket to Michael Lumb when suddenly I felt this shooting pain down the back of my leg. That was pretty much that.
“When I was released the following year, it was a huge disappointment, but it was the kick up the backside I needed, not what I wanted, but it spurred me on to sort myself out. I am a different person now, both on and off the field, and what I learned at Warwickshire is a big part of that.
“Once a Bear, always a Bear, they say and I certainly feel that. I will always be grateful to Warwickshire for giving me my chance and to all the people who helped me. Jim Troughton was great and Sam Hain remains one of my best mates.”
After his release by the Bears, Adair underwent surgery on his lower back. Strangely, he found himself in lengthy rehab at the same time as his brother Ross, a professional rugby player, who had just had a hip operation. The future was unclear.
“It was a long road back and when I was able to bowl properly again at last, that was a big moment for me,” he said. “I played some domestic cricket for Northern Knights and had trials at Durham which didn’t come to anything. I was in my early twenties and still living with mum and dad and living off dad and, to be honest, wondering what the future held. In Ireland there are no domestic team contracts so it’s tough if you are not quite in the top group.
“But then at the start of May last year we were training in the run-up to the ODI with England at Malahide when Stuart Thompson took the best catch I have ever seen, but injured his shoulder in the process – and that gave me my chance. I played in the game against England and did okay and then played in the Tri-series that followed against West Indies and Bangladesh.
“I am so proud whenever I represent my country and then to play in the Lord’s Test was just amazing. I will always remember it, though when you are out there you just try to concentrate on your performance. I remember seeing Chris Woakes and Olly Stone out there and that relaxed me. There was the five of us – Woakesy, Olly, Will Porterfeld, Boyd Rankin and myself – and Moeen Ali as well so the Test was a real Warwickshire reunion.
“I’d love to have another crack at county cricket at some point but right now my focus is entirely on Ireland. I love playing for them and it is great to travel to so many places, though part of you always misses your folks and your missus. It is always exiting to go – and always good to get back.”
2020 promises to be a busy year for Adair – and there is one date that has a particular appeal: Saturday September 12 when Ireland visit Edgbaston for the first time for an ODI. With more then 15,000 tickets already sold, the match is set for a full-house – and Adair is well aware of what sort of occasion that will be.
“It would be amazing to play in the ODI that Edgbaston,” he said. “There’s no better atmosphere. The Hollies Stand is the best stand in cricket and I just hope that, if I play, they are not too hostile to