There are many father and son combinations in cricket, but now there is a new era of former cricketing dads with professional cricketing daughters.
Among them are the Adams family – father Chris played for England, Sussex and Derbyshire and two of his three daughters – Georgia and Mollie – have followed in his footsteps.
“I never thought they would be cricketers,” said Adams Sr. “Cricket has been the added surprise element to their life. Now they enjoy what I did for many years and they’re absolutely smashing it.
“They’ve given us an enormous amount of pleasure; we are so proud of them,” said Chris, before wife Samantha interjects “and nervous breakdowns”.
“As parents we had children young for one reason: we wanted to be active and fun and do our best for them. We came down to Sussex as a big experiment at seeing the big world and we have never left since.”
Nicknamed ‘Grizzly’, Chris Adams captained Sussex to their first County Championship title in their 165-year history in 2003 and picked up back-to-back titles in 2006 and 2007. His first-class playing career spanned across three decades and he featured in both one-day international and Test cricket for England between 1998 and 2000.
Chris’ success on the field has been emulated by eldest daughter and Southern Vipers captain Georgia who as captain has lifted the Charlotte Edwards Cup and successive titles in the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy. She also has a Kia Super League winners’ medal from 2016 and more recently she won the inaugural Hundred with the Oval Invincibles.
Like her father, she has more than 100 appearances to her name for Sussex and has captained the side on a permanent basis since 2017. But while Chris made a living out of representing Sussex, for Georgia financial reward was never an option.
“I grew up wishing there was an avenue to be a professional cricketer, but there wasn’t at that time,” the 28-year-old says.
“Mollie [who is 15] has had dad and me as role models, whereas I grew up in a different world – I only had dad and following men’s cricket. All my friends were the other players’ children, and it was really informal.
“I remember asking dad to play with me in the nets and he would just palm me off and I’d think at the time: why wouldn’t he coach me? But then I sound really spoilt because I used to get coached by (ex-Zimbabwe batter) Murray Goodwin, so I didn’t do too badly when I had Goodwin, (ex-England wicketkeeper) Matt Prior and (ex-Pakistan spinner) Mushtaq Ahmed in the nets with me.”
In contrast, for wicketkeeping batter Mollie, seeing women play cricket has been normal. She has followed Georgia around the country – watching her play for both the Vipers and Lightning in the Kia Super League between 2016-2019, and more recently the Oval Invincibles in the Hundred.
Mollie has also already ticked representing Sussex off the family checklist.
“When Georgia used to play club cricket at Horsham, I remember saying I want to do that,” says Mollie. “I was too young to watch my dad play so it’s all come from Georgia and now it’s about me going out there and replicating it myself.
“After seeing the Hundred I really want to play in that in the next few years or so and my ultimate goal is to play for England, but first I need to get into the Vipers.”
It was only in 2020 the England and Wales Cricket Board allocated regional domestic contracts to allow women to be year-round professional cricketers.
But being the daughter of a professional cricketer comes with its privileges which Georgia is very much aware of.
“It meant I could go to Brighton College which when I was growing up was leading the way,” Georgia says. “It produced Holly Colvin, Laura Marsh, Sarah Taylor, and Clare Connor was my house mistress for a term so that was very much my driver and a lot of that was down to dad’s links, contacts and being able to send me there.
“When I filtered out of the England Academy it was his coaching that was useful for me. I could phone up dad and talk to him as someone who has been through it all and it’s a bit easier when you know you can talk to someone who has felt the same things you felt.”
Although Chris argues the informality of Georgia’s cricket upbringing has enabled her development.
“Georgia’s inspiration has been Hove and growing up from a young age watching cricket and interacting with a lot of the children that were there and doing her own thing, active play and self-discovery shouldn’t be lost on her development,” he said.
“But if you’ve got the benefit of a private coach like Mollie has with me now, you are doubled up. Mollie’s inspiration has definitely been Georgia, she looks at me sometimes thinking ‘did you actually play the game?'”
Mollie currently attends Seaford College where Chris has been head of cricket for the past five years.
“The girls’ pathway was non-existent to now it’s not perfect and we’ve got work to do but I hope I can push the game as far as I can,” he said.
“Women’s cricket isn’t going to stop and in five years’ time it should be much closer in parity to the men’s game.
“With Mollie playing boys cricket, we have had to deal with a few comments, but I think that also toughens them up and there’s lots of hurdles and challenges and If you can move through that you’ll be stronger for it.
“But I think at that age, the boys only have their parents’ beliefs or what their uneducated minds are telling them, so I think it’s a big thing for them and it makes them better for seeing and playing with Mollie.”
For both sisters, Chris has been a father figure that has allowed them to be themselves and not be bounded by gendered stereotypes.
“He has been the best dad, he’s fiercely protective in a non-pushy way,” said Georgia. “He’s been a sounding board, probably been an agent, when I’ve said I want this bat etc. We have been very spoilt and he’s a bit of a joker. He’s so much fun to be around. I would never change anything about my upbringing.”