Oct 21, 2020 Letters
Kaieteur News – I recently perused an interesting article in the print media about an outstanding bowling performance by Curtly Ambrose in Australia during 1993.
The headline screamed, “The pitch was ripe for fast bowling.” Ambrose explains lack of love for magical seven for one against Australia in 1993. The missive was based on an interview conducted on Mason and Guest radio programme.
Editor, please permit me to share with your readers some more titillating issues on that world class performance and other facts relating to the 1993 tour ‘Down Under’ as outlined by Ambrose in his book, “Curtly Ambrose – Time To Talk,” with Richard Sydenham. According to Curtly, on the first morning of the match, he looked at the pitch and told his captain that it looked ‘ ripe for fast bowling. ‘It wasn’t green but it had some grass and moisture and was hard. He suggested to the skipper that if he wins the toss, the West Indies will win the match and the series. It was the final test match of the series. Both sides had each won a test. A bit of that test series later. The great Allan Border won the toss and surprisingly elected to bat first despite the fact that he had three top class fast bowlers Craig McDermott, Merve Hughes and Jo Angel rearing to do damage to the West Indies batting on a track that was conducive to fast bowling.
Australia started pretty well, reaching 59 for 2 at lunch with Justin Langer and Steve Waugh back in the pavallion. Both wickets fell to Ian Bishop. Ambrose was angry with himself as he felt that he bowled badly although his figures were 0 for 14 off eight overs. He opined that he did not get the line and length right so the batsmen were able to leave a lot of deliveries. Seventeen of his first eighteen balls were dot balls with the batsmen not playing at most of them. Hence, his performance was prosaic when compared to the high standards, which he established for himself.
He was angry and sat alone in the dressing room during the luncheon period.
After lunch, he asked his captain to bowl first and got his wish. He then proceeded to dismantle the opposition with a peerless performance of 7 for 1 off thirty two deliveries. Damien Martyn scored that significant single. His final figures were 7 for 25. The host was dismissed for 119. In their turn at the batting crease, the West Indies scored 322. Batting a second time, Australia did a little better but the boys from the Caribbean rolled them over again for an innings victory inside three days. Ian Bishop took 6 for 40. Ambrose got two wickets. It could have been three but Phil Simmond dropped a slip catch. This is how Ambrose described his performance, “There was no one in world cricket at the time who could have subdued me. Not Sir Donald Bradman in his pomp, or Sir Viv Richards or Sir Garfield Sobers. I was unstoppable. Everything was perfect. “In rating his performance, Ambrose explained, “For pure rhythm it has to be tops, but I rate it fourth in terms of importance to the match situation as it was day one. My 8 for 45 in Barbados and my 6 for 24 in Trinidad (both against England) and 6 for 34 against South Africa in Barbados were more crucial to the results of those games, which were all won. Maybe you can argue that 7 for 25 effectively decided the Perth Test as early as day one, but there was still a lot of cricket to be played.”
Desmond Haynes recalled, “Watching a guy bowled at that level where it looked like he was going to get a wicket with every ball – that to me was phenomenal. That is not normal. It was clear that it was only a matter of time before he bowled those guys out.”
Courtney Walsh commented, “when he came back after lunch, he produced the best spell of fast bowling that I was privileged to see – and I’ve seen a few while playing with Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Patrick Patterson. But that spell was something special. It was awesome to be part of.”
Now, a bit about the test series. When the West Indies team left Barbados for Australia, there were no member of the West Indies Cricket Board there to see them off. There was no Richards, Greenidge, Marshall or Dujon. Richardson was an inexperienced captain. There were a few rookies like Jimmy Adams, Anderson Cummins, David Williams, Kenneth Benjamin, Junior Murray and Phil Simmons. Brian Lara had played only two tests up to that point. The senior players were Ambrose, Walsh, Haynes, Richardson and Hooper. Few gave them a chance against the mighty Aussies led by Allan Border.
The first test at Brisbane was a draw. Keith Arthurton scored 157 not out. Australia won the second test. Emerging leg spinner Shane Warne mesmerised the West Indies batsmen with figures of 7 for 52 in the second innings.
The third test was drawn. It is apposite to note that during that match Brian Charles Lara displayed to the cricketing world that he had true world class potentials. He smashed a breathtaking 277 run out. He later became a multiple world record holder. According to Tony Cozier that masterpiece by Lara lifted the spirits of the West Indies players who were one down in the series and served as a motivator for them to win the series. West Indies won the fourth test by one of the closest margin of victory, one run, despite many clear cut decisions going against them. In those days, there were no television replays. As alluded to above, the West Indies slaughtered Australia in the fifth test, thanks to the exceptional performance of Curtly Ambrose. The visitors won the series 2 to 1. Unlike their departure for the tour, they were given a hero’s welcome by the West Indies Cricket Board when they returned home.
I can go on but I think that the time is ripe for me to close my innings.
Assistant Commissioner of Police
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