Ambrose: It's time to leave

Committed to bowing out of the game 'on a high', Curtly Ambrose yesterday announced his intention to retire from international cricket after the summer's tourof England. The champion Antiguan fast bowler, who has won many a Test match for the West Indies, told a packed afternoon Press conference that he had already informedthe West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) of his decision.

'It is time for me to pack it in. I've thought about it long and hard and I think a man has got to know his limitations,' the36-year-old Ambrose told reporters after the West Indies' tense victory by one wicket in the third and final Test against Pakistan.

High standards

'I set myself high standards and if I can't measure up to that standard I'd rather not play. Before that happens, I prefer to leave knowing that I left the game on a high.'

The beanpole fast bowler gave a hint of his retirement by raising both arms when he led the West Indies team off the Antigua Recreation Ground after the completion of the Pakistan second innings on Sunday evening.

Ambrose, Test cricket's fifth highest wicket-taker, has also ruled out the possibility of a change of heart.

'I've made my decision and I stick by it,' he said.

'Somebody asked me if I go to England and get 40 wickets, if I'll have second thoughts. The answer is no. I think I've just about had enough and I think it is ime for me to leave.'

He also gave no preview about his future.

'I've got a few things in the pipeline, things that I don't what to disclose at this time, but I've got something planned,' he said.

Ambrose added that he had no regrets during an illustrious career that started in 1988.

His 388 wickets in 93 matches make him the second highest wicket-taker among West Indies in Tests and he says it will be a 'nice feeling' if he manages to break the 400-mark in the five-match series against England.

Over the last few years, Ambrose has formed an effective combination with the 37-year-old Courtney Walsh, but he did not want to speculate about when his partner would retire.'

Courtney is his own man. The whole Caribbean figures that we are too old, that we shouldn't be going to England,' Ambrose said.

'I've made my decision. It's up to Courtney if he wants to go on or not. I think he's still bowling very well.'

Ambrose was also satisfied that by the time the England tour ends in September, the young crop of fast bowlers would be almost ready to spearhead the attack.

'We have seen in this series that the youngsters are holding their own,' he said in reference to Reon King and Franklyn Rose.

'I'm not saying they are going to be world-beaters overnight, but they are improving and maybe when I leave, that might be exactly what they need to help them to lift their game.'

And what about the England tour?

'I have never really shirked despite the fact that the whole Caribbean figures that I'm too old for this game,' he said.

'I'm still standing strong and I'm looking forward to the challenge in England.'