"Ambrose: A True Great" by Collin Croft

"Ambrose: A True Great" by Collin Croft

Post by Jay Mirz » Sun, 04 Jun 2000 04:00:00

Ambrose: A true great by Collin Croft

           The announcement, made by the man
           himself, that he would be retiring
           from international cricket after the
           West Indies cricket tour of England,
           which gets under way this week, was
           not altogether a surprise to anyone.

           Frankly, even if Curtly Ambrose and
           Courtney Walsh  get 50 wickets
           between them in the five Test series
           against England, they still should
           not be selected for Australia at the
           end of the year, since that would
           be putting off the inevitable, and
           Australia, with its hard wickets, and
           tough run-ups, would be much too
           much for these guys, as tremendously
           diligent as they always are.

           Yet, when "Amby" gave me that
           "scoop", in an interview after that
           magnificent Pakistan v West Indies
           game at Antigua, ironically Ambrose's
           home ground, that he had told the
           West Indies Cricket Board of his
           intentions, it was still a bit of a
           shock  and rather sad too.

           Perhaps he should have announced it
           before the game started, so that he
           could get the proper send-off,
           probably tearful, that he deserved.
            He does not deserve to just fade
           away into the sunset. He deserves
           much, much more.


           Curtly has been tremendous for the
           West Indies since his advent to
           cricket in 1988, against Pakistan at
           Georgetown, Guyana.

           Getting wickets is fun for a bowler,
           especially a fast  bowler, since so
           much work is put  into the thing.
            Believe me, I   know. Curtly has
           388 of them from  93 Test
           appearances, second only to his
           great fast bowling  partner, Courtney
           Walsh, who has 449, but he has been
           playing since 1983, and has 117 Test

           It is almost a foregone conclusion
           that Curtly will get the required 12
           wickets against England for his 400 in
           Test cricket. He must, or he will never
           get it.  It is that simple.

           If he can get 11 wickets at a miserly
           19.91 runs each against Pakistan, in
           three Tests here on somewhat
           lifeless pitches in the Caribbean, then
           he should surpass that in five Tests
           on the greener English pitches.


           I sometimes wonder which was his
           most determined and destructive
           effort.  Would it have been that 8-45
           against England in Barbados in April
           1990, or the 6-24 at Port of Spain
           when England needed 194 to win with
           nearly two days to bat and Ambrose
           decimated the batting on the
           penultimate evening for 46?  Both
           were memorable, so you take your

           Fast bowlers, originally, came in pairs
           like Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thompson,
           or Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller of
           Australia, Fred Trueman and Brian
           Statham, and Ken Higgs and John
           Snow of England or even Wes Hall
           and Charlie Griffith of the West

           But then along came Thomson, Lillee,
           Gary Gilmour and Max Walker - no,
           the West Indies with  Michael
           Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner
           and Colin Croft, were not the first
           four-pronged pace attack, though it
           could be argued that we were either
           the best, or the worst, depending on
           your perspective.

           Walsh and Ambrose will stand
           out forever, however, since
           they have been a pair, although
           ironically, they regularly appeared
           in a four.

           Sadly, one of their regular partners,
           Malcolm Marshall, who managed that
           376 wickets in 81 Tests, died
           recently, but what a force they were,
           especially when playing together
           against England.

           Of course, with all of the fast bowlers
           considered by the West Indies for
           their team since 1928, many want to
           know who was the best, or which
           combination was the best.

           In a recent article, for the new
           millennium, I suggested that, after
           considerable thought the four fast
           bowlers, (my four, not necessarily
           yours), for a
           Best-West-Indies-Of-All-Time team
           would have been Wes Hall, Michael
           Holding, Joel Garner and either
           Malcolm Marshall or Andy Roberts.

           Yet, if someone had a go at me for
           not selecting either Walsh or
           Ambrose, they would be justified,
           since making a selection like that is
           almost impossible.

           It is very hard to please everyone
           with that, but replacing either of my
           four with "Amby" would not be
           unacceptable.  Over and over again,
           Ambrose and his partner Walsh, have
           proved that they are extremely

           Like "ackhee and saltfish", that great
           Jamaican dish, they go together,


           The one thing that is special about
           Curtly is his "meanness" with the
           ball.  He seldom gives the batsmen
           any room to manouvre, and normally,
           would move from having, say 0-35
           from about 20 overs to having 4-40 in
           24 overs.

           Curtly Ambrose makes every run
           count.  He makes every delivery

           As he puts it himself:  "Crofty boy,
           the batsmen should not get any free
           runs. They should have to work just
           as hard as I have to get a wicket.  I
           try to keep my figures tight, so that
           when I do get a break-through, then
           the figures are always tighter, and
           my team benefits." I agree.

           Curtly Ambrose normally gives the
           best interviews.         All one has to do
           is give him the respect he deserves, and
           rightly, demands.  He is articulate,
           always agitated about the game,
           and always honest.  His ideas
           would fill a dictionary of cricket.  The
           guy knows his stuff.

           I, for one, will miss him terribly, as
           he has brought a certain dignity to
           his trade, a certain toughness to his
           game, always, but always, a certain
           fairness to this great sport.

           Curtly Ambrose is great, his
           contributions for the West Indies
           cricket team are great, and when he
           gets those 12 wickets, his will
           become greater still, since he will be
           only the second West Indian, and the
           fourth overall, after (Sir) Richard
           Hadlee of New Zealand, Kapil Dev of
           Indian and of course, Courtney
           "Cuddy" Walsh, to make it there.

           Now that four, with each having at
           least 400 Test wickets, would be a
           great fast bowling combination too.