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'He'd make you play balls you could have left'
Part six: Alec Stewart's favourite bowlers include Courtney Walsh, who wasn't shy of getting mean when he needed to (00:00)
Producer: Ranjit Shinde
November 27, 2012
'He'd make you play balls you could have left'November 27, 2012
Because he bowled wider of the crease, you'd almost feel every ball was going to come in to you. So you started playing the ball as though it was coming in over middle and off stump. But he had the great ability to get the ball to sit up or just go away, so you ended up playing at balls that you could have left. His angle would just hold the ball up, find the outside edge and square you up. You'd get your right shoulder coming around, you'd be too open, and that's when you'd get nicked off to the keeper or to slips.
He was probably the meaner of the two bowlers, and by that I mean that he wasn't shy of short-pitched bowling. And while he could get the ball to get away from his angle, he could also get it to come back at you. If he went wide of the crease and bowled a bouncer, you didn't know where to go at times. He hit - just an estimate here - more batsmen than most bowlers because of the angle he bowled it from. Obviously, with his height the bouncer used to get through from a fuller length, and he was mean at times.
But again, off the field, a great bloke, and that's what you want. It's hard work playing quick bowling - 90-odd miles an hour, 95 miles an hour, whatever it may be, it's a challenge. I enjoyed the challenge.
I'd never say you actually enjoy standing there about 20 yards away from someone letting go 5.5oz of leather, but I enjoyed the contest of taking on quick bowlers. When I say taking on, not necessarily having a hook or a pull, but the challenge of trying to get through that spell, so that ideally there might be a slightly lesser bowler coming at you.
But when there are two like Walsh and Ambrose, there is no respite. And that is why when you're batting, it's important that your partner at the other end understands that you have to rotate the strike. If you get a quick single, get off strike, then if he drops it down, run again. If you get stuck at one end against these types of bowlers, it's hard work. And it almost becomes a matter of time before they'll get you out. So don't ever miss out on any scoring opportunity.
It was a challenge. Walsh and Ambrose, I put them alongside [Waqar] Younis and [Wasim] Akram, two of the very, very best. Certainly two of the best pairings of my era, if not ever.
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