John Andrew ‘Andy’ Afford was born in Crowland on May 12, 1964. A slow left arm bowler, he first came to notice taking 8-33 for Lincolnshire Under 17s against Derbyshire Under 17s at Spalding in 1981.
He also played for Lincolnshire Under 19s in the same season and would represent the latter for three successive summers. He was particularly effective in the Cambridge Festivals of 1982 and 1983. John Cope noticed Afford’s potential and visited the indoor nets at Trent Bridge during the winter of 1983/4.
Without any further trials, he made his first-class debut for Nottinghamshire against Oxford University in The Parks in April 1984. Later in 1984 came his Championship debut against Lancashire at Blackpool, when Peter Such was absent, nursing a bruised thumb.
1985 saw Afford join the playing staff at Trent Bridge. He was leading Second XI wicket-taker with 45 victims at 21.69 runs apiece. The winter of 1985/6 was spent in New Zealand, coaching and playing for the Wellington club side, Hutt Valley C.C. It was to be the first of four winters spent in New Zealand.
He gained a regular first team place with Notts in 1986, but the two following summers were marred by injury. Due to a slipped disc he missed about two months of the 1987 season and in 1988 he was absent almost all summer with a stress fracture.
Going out to New Zealand again in 1988/9, he took over 50 wickets for Taita District and represented Wellington B. His fitness assured, Afford took over fifty first class wickets for the first time in 1989 and his form gained him a place on the England A tour to Zimbabwe.
On the trip he played in two One-Day Internationals and the first ‘Test’ in Harare, but the pitches were docile and he had to compete with Richard Illingworth for the left arm spinner's place.
Awarded his County Cap in June 1990, he topped fifty wickets in each of the seasons 1991, 1992 and 1993. Midway through 1995, he lost his place in the First XI, but in 1996 he bounced back, topping the Championship bowling averages. In 1997, due to injury, he did not play in a single game for the senior side and was released at the end of the summer.
His best bowling in first-class cricket was 6-51 for Notts v Lancs at Trent Bridge in 1996, but the performance which will be remembered came in the Benson & Hedges Cup semi-final of 1989. Kent, in reply to Notts' total 296-6 were 134-1.
At this point, Afford bowled opener Mark Benson and then went on to take three more wickets – four in 22 balls. This put Notts into the final and Afford won the Man of the Match award. Andy Afford is a free-thinker with a wry sense of humour, which matches his cricket.