Meet the man who was Sachin Tendulkar’s angel at Yorkshire

Solly Adam is the man who been an angel for many Indians and Pakistanis playing league cricket in England. But his most historic connection with cricket is playing a role in Sachin Tendulkar becoming the first non-Yorkshireman to play for the county in its hoary cricketing history.

Adam was told an Australian overseas player was not turning up for Yorkshire and was asked to suggest a possible overseas player in a short time. So he suggested that they sign Tendulkar as he had just signed his school friend Vinod Kambli to play with him in the Bradford League. Though Tendulkar was offered a place to stay in Yorkshire, he preferred to stay in Adam’s place, where he was looked after like a family member.

Adam arrived in England in 1963 and started off as a qualified motor mechanic in a small garage. In 1972, he purchased a petrol station. He is now the managing director of a number of firms, including Solly Sports.

First-Class umpire Marcus Couto caught up with Adam while on a trip to Yorkshire. Excerpts from an interview:

Q: How did you manage to get Sachin Tendulkar to play for Yorkshire in 1991?

A: He came in as a replacement for Australian Craig McDermott, who was sidelined by groin injury. I told them [Yorkshire] that I just signed Sachin’s school friend Vinod Kambli to play in the Bradford League and I could talk to Sachin as well. Sachin took a week after my call to confirm. He asked his family members before agreeing to play for Yorkshire. A Yorkshire representative went to Mumbai to get the contract signed. Sachin preferred staying at my house instead of the house the County gave him.


Q: When did you come to UK?

A: In 1963. I got married in 1968, started off as a qualified motor mechanic in a small garage in 1972. I had my petrol pump opened 24 hours. My business was doing well so I was lucky to pursue my interest in cricket.


Q: How many cricketers have you helped till date?

A: Plenty. I have not kept a record, but several overseas players from Pakistan and India. My house has been open for them to stay. I have worked out deals for them with the Clubs. I feel proud that many, many have gone on to represent their country. From Pakistan, players such as Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Abdul Qadir, Iqbal Qasim and Syed Mehboob. From India, VVS Laxman, Iqbal Khan, Sulakshan Kulkarni, Vinod Kambli, Paras Mhambrey, Lalchand Rajput, Suru Nayak, Vijay Mohan Raj, Pranab Roy, Barun Burman, Amay Khurashia, Shishir Hattangadi, Abey Kuruvilla, Raju Kulkarni, Chandrakant Pandit, Ravi Thakkar, Manoj Joglekar, Rohan Gavaskar, JP Yadav, Tushar Arothe, Sameer Dighe and many more.


Q: What does cricket mean to you?

A: For me, Islam comes first. Next to religion is cricket. In 1990, I had a room named after Sunil Gavaskar. It’s called as ‘Sunil Gavaskar Room’, which is exclusively used by Sunil as and when he visits my place. He has been in regular touch with me. Sachin Tendulkar was here [Yorkshire] last month.


Q: What’s next?

A: Just started in house doing colourful logos and embroidery, Will keep on updating business and cricketers are always welcome to my place for any help any time. And you as an umpire as well. For a cricketer who could not afford to pay 2 annual subscription and 20p as match fee at Batley Muslims, It’s has been a great journey from Simlak village to Dewsbury. It was a great honour for me and my wife last month when the Queen invited us for a cup of tea at Buckingham Palace lawn.

Q: Did you play cricket?

A: Yes. Fifty years of good cricket. And in the 40 years with the renowned Bradford league here in Yorkshire, I just missed two games.