King Richards : "Don't underestimate us!"

King Richards : "Don't underestimate us!"

Post by VIGNE.. » Sun, 23 Jan 1994 02:26:47

The sleeping giant;

King Viv backing his old Test team-mates to sharpen up their act
Atherton can expect rude awakening from inspirational Ambrose

By Peter Johnson

West Indies giant  Curtly Ambrose looms so large over  the coming
Test series that every new rumour that he is 'feeling tired' cuts
the odds against England returning home in triumph.  They plunged
from 10-1 to 7-1 here yesterday before Viv Richards, who has quit
first-class  cricket to concentrate  on his day job  as uncrowned
king of Antigua, made a  reassuring public proclamation.  Reports
of Ambrose's loss of steam are, it seems, somewhat premature.

'I fear the  West Indies side may be  a bit tired and that is the
only thing that would make them vulnerable,' Richards conceded on
a state visit to see England at practice. 'But that has been said
about them so often before and  their passion  has always carried
them through.

'Someone  like  Curtly  can  inspire  others.  I think he has the
biggest heart in  the game.  Overall, I suppose, Malcolm Marshall
is the pick of the fast bowling  crop but when  things are really
tough, Curtly has done it for us again and again.'

Ambrose, 30, has  now pushed  his spidery 6ft 7in  virtually non-
stop through  six years of international cricket, winning matches
single-handed and taking 193 Test wickets.

Richards  added:  'They  say  he is  tired  but  he  likes taking
wickets and there is nothing more important than that.  He is the
strongest of them all, a big man with a big heart.'

Hugely optimistic though some of  them may be, no one in the Eng-
land squad  will anticipate Ambrose being less than lethal by the
opening Test in Jamaica on February 19.

But  there is  no smoke  without fire  and  reports of local Red
Stripe matches  suggest  Ambrose is  merely  going  through  the
motions.  Every West Indian now seems  to share  skipper  Richie
Richardson's view that the side did itself no good - apart  from
financially, that  is - by taking  on  a mind-numbing number  of
one-day internationals in Sharjah, India and SriLanka in the two
months before Christmas.

'They  should not  have tackled  what they did with such a major
Test series  coming up,' said  Richards. 'England, on  the other
hand, have done it right and, probably  for the first time, have
arrived here physically and mentally well prepared.

'They will  need to be  because some of  the new guys will never
have played cricket any harder than they will have to do in this
series.  I think it will be  closer than  a lot of people expect
but we  have players  who can produce  big performances  to  win
matches no matter how tired they are.

'It's  been suggested  that  the attack is  the weakest the West
Indies have fielded for years.  Mike Atherton won't be fooled by
that. He has been around long enough to know that we have always
produced men who can pull out something  specialy when it really

There is a queue of candidates jostling for a place in what will
inevitably  be a quartet of  pace bowlers.  Courtney Walsh  is a
certainty and Winston Benjamin is likely to be third choice.

What the West Indies hope and  England fear is  the sudden emer-
gence of another towering  youngster of stunning speed.  However
if there is one just over the horizon, Andy Roberts, one of Test
cricket's fast bowling legends, has not spotted him.

'We have been going through a transitional period since a number
of top players retired in the last three or four years and their
replacements have not come through as expected,' he said. 'There
may be still  a depth of pace bowlers  but the  genuinely  quick
ones can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

'You can  bet your life, though, that  somebody will  burst into
prominence  before this tour is over.  Until  they do, I believe
the  West Indies' success will  depend  a lot on  how successful
Ambrose is.'

Thanks  ::  Daily Mail


Jan 21, 1994