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West Indies v South Africa, Only Test, Barbados, 1992

'Last day at Kensington Oval always belongs to us'

South Africa need 79 to win but can they get past Wambrose?

Telford Vice

January 24, 2010

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Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh in the field, third Test, West Indies v Australia, Trinidad, 21 April 1995
The same unplayable bowler from both ends © Getty Images
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If Curtly Ambrose or Courtney Walsh bowled a less than lethal ball between them in Bridgetown on the morning of April 23, 1992, it has skulked out of this reporter's memory.

South Africa went into the final day of their first Test in 22 years - not to mention their first Test against a team that was not lily white - needing 79 runs to win. Eight wickets stood, and old hands Kepler Wessels and Peter Kirsten were well set. Those eight wickets crashed for 22 runs as West Indies avoided spectacularly what would have been their first defeat at Kensington Oval since 1935.

"Tell your boys," an ancient denizen of the ground rasped at every white man he could find who was not Tony Cozier, "that the last day at Kensington Oval always belongs to us."

Ambrose and Walsh, of course, didn't need to be told. They pitched everything on off stump and let a pitch stricken by multiple-personality disorder do the rest. Each perfect delivery was followed by another perfect delivery. It was as if Richie Richardson had found a loophole in the laws that allowed him to unleash the same unplayable bowler from both ends. Fittingly, that Wambrose bloke ended up with 10 wickets.

The shot of the day was played by Dave Richardson. Ambushed by a ball that jolted vertically off a length, Richardson, unflappable lawyer that he is, manfully middled the missile into submission. But this was a forward defensive stroke like no other. Eighteen years on, the memory of Richardson's bat meeting the ball at least a foot above his head remains as clear as the Caribbean sky.

Telford Vice is a freelance cricket writer in South Africa

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Telford Vice Telford Vice, crash-boom-out left-hand bat, sort-of legspinner, was never sure whether he was a cricket person. He thought he might be when he sidestepped a broken laptop and an utter dearth of experience to cover South Africa's first Test match in 22 years in Barbados in 1992. When he managed to complete Peter Kirsten's biography as well as retain what he calls his sanity, he pondered the question again. Similarly, when he made it through the 2007 World Cup - all of it, including the warm-up matches - his case for belonging to cricket's family felt stronger. But it was only when the World Twenty20 exploded gloriously into his life in 2007 that he knew he actually wanted to be a cricket person. Sort of ...

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