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'He would be in my World XI'
Part five: The best bowlers Alec Stewart faced include Curtly Ambrose, who did you in with his height (00:00)
Producer: Ranjit Shinde
November 20, 2012
'He would be in my World XI'November 20, 2012
One of the greatest ever new-ball pairings must be the giants of the West Indies - Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh. Similar in some ways, in other ways completely different. Both 6' 6" plus, 6' 8", whatever it was. By the time their arms come down, they were probably near eight-foot-something. Quick, without being rapid. Again, because of their height, they generally bowled the ball into the pitch.
Now, I'm not going to play them again, so I can say, at times it didn't seem as quick as somebody who bowled the ball slightly fuller, like Wasim Akram or Waqar Younis. But they were a real handful, because whatever length they bowled, because of the height they came down from, the ball bounced higher. If you're normally looking to play a bowler at 6' 2", and you want to stand up and play the ball and then get it on the drive with the bat, that's fine. But with Walsh and Ambrose, they'd hit it higher up on the bat, just underneath the stickers or actually on the stickers of the cricket bat - the splice. So you had to stand tall to play against them. And neither of them liked going for runs.
Curtly Ambrose, especially. In a way, he was a bit like [Glenn] McGrath, in the fact that he would bowl ball after ball after ball in that similar area. He probably bowled fractionally shorter than McGrath, but he was just as miserly with his run rate and the amount of poor deliveries that he bowled to you. Very rarely did he bowl you a ball you could cut. If anything, he might just get a bit too tight for you and you could perhaps get it off your hip and get it through square leg. Or, if you're playing well then you could try and take him on with a pull or a hook. But again, they were few and far between. Ambrose was just outstanding. He'd be in my World XI.
Probably the best spell that he bowled was in 1994 in Trinidad, when he bowled us out in the second innings for 46. It was quite an incredible spell of bowling. The pitch was helpful, but take nothing away from what Ambrose achieved there. People say, "Did England bat badly?" What you have to do is just hold your hand up sometimes and say, on that day, or in that one-and-a-half-hour spell or whatever it was, Ambrose was king. I think our top scorer got 18. He bowled me out with a ball that didn't allow a lot of foot movement. He did me on length and the ball just nipped back.
An absolute world-class cricketer. Man of few words on the cricket field, but one of the nicest people you'll meet off the cricket field. He'd bowl at you - you talk about sledging, with words exchanged... Ambrose never ever said a word to me. He'd give you a look. But where he was good was, when you played a shot off him, at times, he would just appreciate it. A great competitor and somebody West Indies should be very proud of and very lucky to have had bowl for [them] for so long.
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