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
'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
Thanks :: Daily Mail
Jan 21, 1994