West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose’s 7 for 1 demolition job of Australia, in Perth, is widely considered to not only be his best performance but one of the best of all time.  From his perspective, however, the bowler does not rank it as highly as one would imagine.

The 1993 winner-takes-all showdown between the teams was decided by Ambrose’s magical 32 ball spell - from 85 for 2, the Australians tumbled to 119 all out. West Indies closed the first day on 135 for 1, and that was effectively that. The match was over by lunch on the third day. 

In recently reflecting on the match itself, however, the bowler explained that the almost perfect circumstances for fast bowling was one reason the spell did not rank at the top of his list.

“When people ask me about some of my top spells, I will include that, because seven wickets for one run in 32 deliveries is unheard of but I’ve never had it at the top of the tree,” Ambrose told the Mason and Guest radio program.

“It was the best spell, yes, but when you looked at the game itself, the first morning of a Test match, the pitch was ripe for fast bowling.  Everything was there for a fast bowler.  I was not under any pressure or anything, that is why I never rated it as my best spell,” he added.

  Interestingly, the WACA groundsman was subsequently dismissed for preparing such a home away from home pitch for Ambrose and the other Windies bowlers.

“The spell against South Africa, I would put it ahead because of the nature of the game.  Our backs were against the wall.  When we bowled England out in Trinidad for 46, I would have that spell ahead of it as well because of the nature of the game.  The 8 for 45 against England in Barbados is the same thing.  The situations were all different but that 7 for 1, I was not under any pressure on the first morning with a good pitch.”

If he had a chance to do it all over again, West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose would relish another match-up with iconic India batsman Sachin Tendulkar.

The fiery fast bowler claimed some 405 Test wickets with some 22,103 balls but none of them ever dislodged the wickets of India great Tendulkar.  In general, Ambrose statistics suggest that on a whole he may have underperformed against India.  In nine Test matches, with two contests in the Caribbean - 1989 and 1997 - Ambrose took only 15 wickets at an average of 38.33 with only one five wicket haul.

In the 1997 series, Tendulkar scored a total of 270 runs with an average of 67.5, Ambrose managed to claim just 7 wickets for the five-match series.  At the peak of his powers in 1994, he missed out on the West Indies tour to India after sustaining a rotator cup injury and perhaps an epic showdown with Tendulkar.  The batsman hammered 213 runs, in the three-Test series, including 179 in the second Test.

“I would say Sachin Tendulkar because I’ve never gotten him out in a Test match,” Ambrose said in an interview with the Antigua Observer.

“I’ve played a few Tests against him but have never gotten him out although I’ve gotten him out in One Day cricket, so if I could relive that, I would have loved to have gotten him out.”

Tendulkar regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time, is the highest run scorer in international cricket and has scored 51 Test centuries.

 

 

West Indies legend Curtly Ambrose believes the team should consider removing Shai Hope from the line-up against England, for his own good, after a brutal run of form has severely limited the player’s impact in the ongoing series.

Hope was among the few standout players when the team played England in the 2017 series.  In fact, his two finely crafted 100s played a critical role in the team turning the tables on England for a shock victory in the second Test at Headingly.

To say Hope has struggled since then, however, could only be construed as a massive understatement.  He has averaged below 25 in 21 Tests, with no hundreds and managed scores of 16, 9, 25 and 7 in the first two Tests against England.  With the final and decisive Test on the horizon, Ambrose believes some time out of the spotlight could be good for the 26-year-old, and that on the flip side, repeated failure could permanently damage the player.

"Something has gone terribly wrong for him since those two centuries at Headingley - he hasn't done anything really in Test cricket since then," said Ambrose recently told Sky Sports.

"He is a much better player than what he is showing at the moment and is obviously very low on confidence,” he added.

"Maybe in the next game we should rest him so he can regain some confidence. If you keep playing him and he keeps failing it will only get worse. You are going to destroy him if it continues like that.”

West Indies fast bowling legend Curtly Ambrose has bemoaned the lack of an opportunity to be a part of the current Cricket West Indies (CWI) set-up in any type of capacity.

The 56-year-old Ambrose, one of the most revered bowlers in world cricket, previously served as the bowling consultant for the senior team.  He was, however, replaced by Roderick Estwick in 2016 and has not been involved with the program since.  According to the legendary pace bowler, however, it isn’t for a lack of trying.  Ambrose has since added to his coaching credentials, becoming one of 25 officials from the Caribbean and North America to attain Level Three coaching certification from a program organised by Cricket West Indies (CWI) and the England and Wales Cricket Board in 2018.

“Since I was sacked from the senior team back in 2016, I have done a few bits and pieces in-between, in terms of some coaching stints with a few fast bowlers, but not on a consistent basis,” Ambrose said in a recent interview on Antigua’s Good Morning Jojo radio show.

Coaching is, however, not the only job the former player has applied for.  He recently also threw his hat in the ring for a position on the selection panel.

“I figured whether it is coaching, being a selector, or whatever I could do to help West Indies Cricket go forward, I am always ready and willing to do so.  There was nothing to do to in terms of the coaching part of it, so I decided to put in for being a selector because I thought that I could help, because I am a very fair-minded person and I just want to see West Indies cricket get better," Ambrose said.

"They interviewed me, Jimmy Adams and the vice president (Dr. Kishore Shallow), for about an hour, and I didn't quite make it."

The last time West Indies won a series in England was in 1988.

A 36-year-old Viv Richards was the captain, Curtly Ambrose had only played three Tests, Ian Bishop hadn’t made his debut, Brian Lara wasn’t yet in the Windies set-up and I wasn’t born.

Thankfully, with advances in technology whether it be Google or a trek through the archives of YouTube, there is enough information, that once willing to read and watch, one can get a great understanding, if not the complete picture of some of the great moments savoured before our time.

1988 started in uncertain fashion for the West Indies after they had to fight to stave off Pakistan in a home series they managed to draw, winning the third and final Test at Kensington Oval in Barbados by two wickets.

Michael Holding, Joel Garner and Larry Gomes, three members of the squad which had dominated the world for close to 10 years had retired just over a year earlier.

Other key players Richards, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes and Jeffrey Dujon had all passed age 30.

Heading into the England series, the late great Malcolm Marshall was the most experienced bowler with 53 matches and that was more than the other pacemen combined.

In fact, that was one of the biggest concerns for the West Indies going into the series as Courtney Walsh, Curtly Ambrose, Patrick Patterson, Winston Benjamin and Ian Bishop had combined for just 38 matches.

Thankfully, for the Caribbean side, the tour lasted approximately three months and along the way they played 16 first-class matches, eight of which were warm-up games.

They lost all games in the 3-match One Day International series at the beginning of the campaign but as time went on and conditions became more familiar, they improved, drew the first Test and then sped away with the series 4-nil as their unbeaten series run approached a decade.

Malcolm Marshall was simply outstanding in that series, his best ever in terms of wickets taken (35), average (12.66), strike rate (34.83), economy rate (2.18) and career-best figures of 7 for 22.

The Barbadian was also well backed up by his “inexperienced” pace bowling support cast.

Ambrose snared 22 scalps at 20.22 while Walsh and Benjamin each took 12 wickets

Graham Dilley (15) was the only England bowler among the top five wicket-takers for the series.

While Graham Gooch topped the batting chart with 459 runs, 7 of the top ten run-scorers came from the West Indies.

Overall it was a disastrous summer for the home team who used 4 captains in the five Tests.

It was a microcosm of a dreadful period leading up to that summer where England won just seven of their last 52 matches.

Most importantly for the West Indies though is that they gave the cricketing public a fierce reminder of why they were the world’s number one team and that their days of producing world-dominating fast bowlers were far from over.

It took another seven years before West Indies lost a Test series, beaten 2-1 at home by Australia in 1995.

Unfortunately, though, it has taken them far longer to feel the glory of triumphing in England.

In 1988, a helmetless 25-year-old Phil Simmons was hit on the head by a delivery from Gloucestershire bowler David Lawrence in fading light at Bristol.

He underwent emergency surgery at hospital and while he played no further role on that tour he did make a full and often considered miraculous recovery.

32 years later, Simmons has the chance to lead West Indies from the coaching bench.

If he is successful in leading them to victory, it will hardly be considered miraculous, especially since the Windies are the current holders of the Wisden trophy but surely, against the odds, it would be among his and all his players’ greatest ever achievements.

The West Indies are about to play against England in England for the Wisden Trophy and we at SportsMax thought it may be interesting to look back at the best performances from the Caribbean side in that country.

The West Indies lead England in head to heads, 57-49, with 51 drawn games between the teams.

The teams began to play for the Wisden Trophy in 1963 and since then have won the series 14 times to England’s 10, though this year’s hosts have been dominant recently, save for last year when the West Indies wrested the trophy from them in a 2-1 win. There have been three drawn series since 1963.

But performing in England has always been tough and good performances there have always been counted at a premium, living in the memories of batsmen, bowlers and fans for a very very long time.

Here are the performances that stand out in my mind, tell me if you have others you remember. Comment on these performances on Facebook or Twitter, I wouldn’t mind the trip down memory lane.

 

Best XI West Indian performances in England

 

Allan Rae and Frank Worrell lay into England (The Oval 1950)

Centuries from Allan Rae and Frank Worrell helped the West Indies to win their first series against England in England.

The West Indies would end up winning the series 3-1 but that was set up from the first innings of the first Test where, electing to bat first, Rae bat for five hours to score 109, while Worrell, batting at number three, did the same to score 138.

The West Indies would go on to score 503, before limiting England to 344 and 103 to win by an innings and 56 runs.

 

Sobers goes on show, Charlie Griffiths works up a head of steam (Headingley (1963)

Sir Garfield Sobers scored 102 against England at Headingley as the West Indies won the fourth Test of their 1963 series against England, setting up a first-innings total of 397, which quickly turned into a 223-run lead thanks to Charlie Griffiths’ 6-36. The performances set up a 221-run victory and the series would end 3-1 in favour of the visitors.

 

Lance Gibbs turns Old Trafford on its head (Old Trafford, 1966)

In 1966 Lance Gibbs was the greatest spinner in the world and England crumbled at the feet of his twirling in the first Test of their series. Following on from Garfield Sobers’ 161 in a first innings at Old Trafford where the West Indies scored 484, Gibbs’ 5-37 left England flapping at 167 all out. The follow-on didn’t go any better for the hosts, with Gibbs bagging 5-69 from a marathon 41 overs of bowling. The West Indies would go on to win that 1966 series 3-1.

 

Lloyd, Boyce take over the Oval (The Oval, 1973)

Cllive Lloyd scored 132 in the first innings of the first Test at The Oval in 1973, but that was just part of the story of the way the West Indies dominated made their way to a 158-run victory and a 2-0 series win against England. Keith Boyce only played 21 Tests for the West Indies over the course of four years but in 1973 England had no answer to him. Lloyd’s Innings proved the catalyst fo the West Indies’ 415-run first innings byt then Boyce returned to bag 5-70 to restrict England to 257 and give the visitors a decided advantage. The West Indies would quickly score 255 before Boyce was back at it again, taking 6-77 on the way to dismissing England for 255.

 

VIV Richards shows complete dominance (Trent Bridge, 1976)

Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards is a name that really needs no introduction and England would feel the brunt of his brutality on many occasions. In 1976, the West Indies won a five-Test series in England 3-0, but Richards was dominant from ball one. Batting at his customary number three in the first Test of the series, Richards would help the West Indies to 494 runs in a first innings where he slammed 232. When England responded with 332 in their first innings, the West Indies needed to score quick runs so they could declare with enough time to bowl England out a second time. Richards obliged with 63 and even though the match ended in a draw, the performance of the Master Blaster.

 

Gordon Greenidge puts his name in the Lord’s book in emphatic style  (Lord’s 1984)

The second Test of a series against England at Lord’s had a number of brilliant performances from both teams. England’s Graeme Fowler had scored a fighting 106 in his side’s 286. The low total was brought about by Malcolm Marshall’s special bowling performance of 6-85. That bowling performance was superseded by Ian Botham’s 8-103 to help restrict the West Indies to 245. In the second innings, England declared on 300-9 thanks to Allan Lamb’s 110. Chasing 341 in the second innings, Gordon Greenidge eclipsed all those performances with a sparkling 214 not out, as the West Indies romped to 344-1 in just 66.1 overs. Larry Gomes got a front seat to the action, scoring 92. The West Indies would go on to win the series 5-0.

 

Malcolm Marshall leaves England a little short (Lord’s 1988)

From the lates 1970s until the mid-1990s the West Indies could depend on one part or another of their team to pull them out of tough situations. In the second Test of their 1988 Wisden Trophy series against England, they were up against it early with Gus Logie’s 81 helping the West Indies to just 209. But Malcolm Marshall proved that any total could be enough, destroying England with 6-32 and leaving the game well balanced and maybe giving the West Indies a slight advantage.

Gordon Greenidge’s 103 gave the West Indies a good lead headed into England’s second innings and despite Allan Lamb’s 113, Marshall’s brilliance meant they never got close. The West Indies won by 134 runs and Marshall took 4-60 to end with figures of 10-92.

 

The Ambrose and Walsh show take over Trent Bridge (Trent Bridge, 1991)

The West Indies conveyor belt of fastbowlers had begun to run dry by 1991 but they still had the services of Malcolm Marshall, Courtney Andrew Walsh and Curtly Ambrose. And while they would lose the Wisden Trophy to England that year, there was one Test at Trent Bridge where Ambrose and Walsh reminded the world of the great days of fastbowling and pointed to what would become the most successful opening bowling partnership in World cricket for the next 10 years. In the first innings, led by Graeme Gooch’s 68, England scored 300 all out, but it would have been a much higher total had it not been for 34 overs from Ambrose that yielded 5-74. The West Indies would go into the second innings with a healthy 97-run lead, thanks in large part to Viv Richards’ 80. When England bat again, Walsh made sure the West Indies would not have much to chase, bagging 4-64. In that England second innings, Ambrose had 3-61.

 

Richie Richardson plays anchor role (Edgbaston, 1991)

Richie Richardson had the reputation for being an aggressive batsman, who hooked and pulled his way out of trouble for the most part, but at Edgbaston, in 1991 a different type of batsman was called for. England had been dismissed for 188 courtesy of Malcolm Marshall, 4-33, and Curtly Ambrose, 3-64. But the West Indies were in trouble with the bat as well, with Chris Lewis running rampant for England with 6-111. Standing in the way though, Richardson, recognizing that wickets were falling all around him, faced 229 deliveries to score 104, his strike rate of 45.41, unusually low for his aggressive nature. The innings helped the West Indies to 292 and set up a seven-wicket win  

 

Lara’s 179, Hooper’s 127 keeps things even against England (Kennington Oval, 1995)

With the six-Test series tied at 2-2 headed into the final game, the West Indies, a team in decline by 1995, needed to make sure they did not lose.

England had scored 454 thanks to Graeme Hick’s 96 and despite Curtly Ambrose’s 5-96. Replying, the West Indies scored 692-8, building a lead of  238 to make sure the game could not be lost. The total is still the biggest without featuring a double-century from a batsman, but there was still much brilliance on show. Brian Lara for instance, scored a masterful 179 from just 206 deliveries, slamming 26 fours and a six. But Lara didn’t have to do it alone, with Carl Hooper scoring 127, skipper Richie Richardson, scoring 93, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, scoring 80, and Sherwin Campbell scoring 89. As a team, that was probably the last time the West Indies showed complete dominance with the bat in England.

 

Shai Hope becomes an immortal at Headingley (Headingley 2017)

Still a growing team, the West Indies unit that went to England in 2017 were expected to be thrashed and they were. While the defeat in the three-Test series was only 2-1, and the a result came down to the final Test, the truth is the teams were world’s apart. In that second Test though, the West Indies learned they could not only compete, but they could win in England. Ben Stokes had scored a century to prop up England’s first innings at 258, as Shannon Gabriel and Kemar Roach with four wickets apiece gave West Indies real hope. Then Kraigg Brathwaite with 134 and Shai Hope with 147, pushed the West Indies advantage, the innings ending at 427. England were up against it but batted well to score 490-8 and give the West Indies a serious total to chase. Again, Brathwaite and Hope were on show. Brathwaite fell for 95, agonizingly close to a second century in the match, but there was no stopping Hope, who was unbeaten at the end, scoring 118to lead the West Indies to 322-5 and a famous victory.

The Master Blaster, Sir Viv Richards, is English county cricket's greatest overseas player. This, according to BBC Sport users, who voted on the best players from each of the 17 counties. Each winner then went through to an overall vote.

When the final votes were tallied, the former West Indies captain had secured an astonishing 43.2 per cent of the final vote, finishing ahead of another former West Indies captain, Sir Clive Lloyd (9.2 per cent), and ex-New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee who won 8.5 per cent of the vote.

A panel of experts thought better of booting Glenn McGrath from the early reckonings for a place among the SportsMax Ultimate XI team with the Aussie eventually forcing his way into the final picks.

In the final analysis, India seems the place for producing One-Day International (ODI) players of real quality with the country holding onto four of the 11 spots up for grabs in the team.

At the top of the order in the SportsMax Ultimate XI are Indians Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma, while current India skipper Virat Kohli holds one of the three middle-order spots and Mahendra Singh Dhoni holds onto the wicketkeeper-batsman place in the side.

The West Indies, having won two World Cups in its history and making a final and a couple of semi-finals, are not far behind the Indians, holding down three places with Viv Richards hanging onto a middle-order place and Joel Garner making being part of the bowling attack.

Pakistan, who won the World Cup in 1992, led by Imran Khan also get two spots with the winning captain holding onto the allrounder position and Wasim Akram, the man who was seen as his heir apparent, asked to run in and swing the ball at pace.

Sri Lanka has for its only representative, Muttiah Muralitharan, while the Australian interest in the side has been decimated with just McGrath still standing from the plethora of greats they have produced.

 

Ultimate XI:

Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Viv Richards, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni, Imran Khan, Wasim Akram, Joel Garner, Glenn McGrath, Muttiah Muralitharan

 

Last week fans were left aghast after a panel of experts and the SportsMax Zone picked a middle-order from three-five, without Brian Lara, a man generally agreed to be the region’s best-ever batsman.

 

Fanalyst Picks

Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Brian Lara, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis, MS Dhoni, Muttiah Muralitharan, Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath

 

That decision stood with the panel and the experts and the SportsMax Zone’s combining to create an unbeatable 60% of the total votes.

The same was true for Curtly Ambrose, who the fans decided was the ultimate One-Day International bowler but had to watch as the Zone and the panel left him out in favour of Joel Garner.

Fans also did not get their way with the allrounder pick for the Ultimate XI, as, once again, the Zone and the panel joined forces to pick Imran ahead of their favourite, Jacques Kallis.

Still, there was some joy for the Fanalysts, who benefit from voting for McGrath.

McGrath was not in the final XI picked by the SportsMax Zone, who had to watch as one of their picks, Michael Holding was left out.

 

Zone Picks

Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Viv Richards, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni,

Imran Khan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Wasim Akram, Joel Garner, Michael Holding

 

Panel’s Picks

Sachin Tendulkar, Rohit Sharma, Viv Richards, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers, MS Dhoni,

Imran Khan, Muttiah Muralitharan, Wasim Akram, Joel Garner, Glenn McGrath

When the SportsMax Zone and a panel of experts consider the monumental task of picking its four bowlers for SportsMax’s Ultimate XI One-Day International (ODI) team, there will be an omission of monstrous proportions.

The panel will not be considering the impressive ODI career of one of Australia’s greatest pace bowlers, Glenn McGrath.

Yesterday, the panel was asked to shortlist a shortlist of pace bowlers so they could discuss what the final list of bowlers looks like this evening. The results were shocking.

From a list of 12 fast bowlers, only six have remained for consideration by the panel.

The evening began with Dennis Lillee, Allan Donald, Shane Bond, Shaun Pollock, Curtly Ambrose, Brett Lee, McGrath, Richard Hadlee, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Chaminda Vaas, Joel Garner, and Michael Holding.

The panel will consider no more, the cases of Lee, Bond, Pollock, Ambrose, McGrath, and Donald.

There wasn’t complete unison in the decision, however, as statistician and sports writer Zaheer Clarke believes McGrath’s figures over the years, in particular, his World Cup figures makes it absurd that he is not to be considered for the final three placings in SportsMax’s Ultimate XI ODI team.

Later this evening on the SportsMax Zone at 4:30 pm Eastern Standard Time and 5:30 pm in the Eastern Caribbean, the panel will discuss which three of Australia’s Lillee, Pakistan’s Akram and Younis, the West Indies’ Garner and Holding, and New Zealand’s Hadlee will take the three fast-bowling spots up for grabs.

At this point, like Clarke, Fanalysts believe the panel to be spewing hogwash with at least two of their decisions.

For the Fanalysts, Wasim Akram, Curtly Ambrose, and Glenn McGrath are the three best ODI pace bowlers the world has ever seen.

Remember, you can vote on what you want your Ultimate XI to look like by going to SportsMax.tv and clicking on the banner or clicking on the link here.

The Fanalyst vote counts for 40% of overall votes, while the panel of experts and the SportsMax Zone have 30% each.

To date, the Zone and panel have picked the same ODI Ultimate XI line-up, with that list looking like Rohit Sharma and Sachin Tendulkar as the openers, AB de Villiers, Viv Richards and Virat Kohli as the middle order batsmen 3-5, Mahendra Singh Dhoni as the wicketkeeper, and Imran Khan as the all-rounder.

The Fanalysts have differed regarding the middle-order and the all-rounder, going for Brian Lara to join de Villiers and Kohli, and Jacques Kallis to do all things cricket.

Curtly Ambrose was fast and standing at 6 ft 8 ins, he created steep bounce from just back of a length. Nobody, but nobody found it easy to deal with the pacer, even when much of the pace had gone close to the end of a 12-year career with the West Indies.

The difficulty with negotiating Ambrose’s awkward bounce meant the ODI game was suited to him since batsmen had to go looking for quick runs but against Sir Curtly, that may be to your peril. But Curtly, who didn’t depend much on swing, also had cutters off the pitch, both inward and outward.

The angle he bowled from lent itself naturally to the ball darting in and then holding its line after pitching, bringing the outside edge of the bat into play. However, you would be wrong to think this was always going to happen, as Sir Curtly was also notorious for getting the ball to jag back prodigiously from outside off stump. That would create many instances of batsmen dragging on, or just getting bowled. Then there was his yorker. An expert at delivering it, the ball coming from 10 feet up was notoriously difficult to negotiate.

Sir Curtly was also very accurate, and so often, when he would take wickets, they would be taken in bunches because new batsmen got no wayward deliveries or warm-ups they could leave alone until they get their eye in. Sir Curtly was interested in getting you to play.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose

Born: September 21, 1963 (56), Swetes Village, Antigua

Major teams: West Indies, Leeward Islands, Northamptonshire, UWI Vice Chancellor's Celebrity XI, West Indies Masters

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm fast

 

ODI Career: West Indies (1988-2000)

Mat    Inns    Balls   Runs    Wkts   BBI     BBM     Ave     Econ    SR       4w     5w     10w

176      175    9353    5429     225    5/17    5/17     24.12   3.48     41.5       6        4        0

 

Career Highlights

  • Captured 225 wickets at 24.12
  • Took four 5-wicket hauls in ODIs
  • 2nd most wickets by a West Indian in ODIs

The Ultimate Test XI is done and the fans have made their votes count, overruling a panel of experts and the SportsMax Zone to pick two spinners in their line-up.

From jump street, the fans looked as if they would not be swayed by the opinions of the Zone and the panel, who had to get their ducks in a row if they wanted the final say on who makes SportsMax’s Ultimate XI.

Whereas all were agreed that India’s Sunil Gavaskar was probably the greatest opener the world has ever seen as was a shoo-in for the first opening spot on offer, the fans disagreed with the panel and the Zone on the other opener. Hands down, Fanalysts believed Gordon Greenidge, despite boasting a lower average than most in the Ultimate XI Test shortlist, was the man for the job.

The Fanalysts were outvoted as the Zone, who had 30% of all votes and the panel, who had another 30, believed Australia’s Matthew Hayden the man to walk to the crease in partnership with Gavaskar.

Then there were other differences of opinion. According to the panel, the greatest middle-order batsmen of all time, read Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, and Sir Vivian Richards.

The Zone team, despite being made up of solely Caribbean journalists, disagreed. Sir Viv, they said could not fill the third spot in that middle order ahead of an Australian, Sir Donald Bradman.

The Fanalysts agreed and put the weight of their 40% of the vote squarely behind the Australian great.

So now the fans missed out on one of their picks for opener and the panel missed out on one of their picks for a middle-order batsman.

At the allrounder position and the wicketkeeper position, there was unison as Fanalysts, Zone and panel believed Sir Garfield Sobers should fill the former position, while Australia’s Adam Gilchrist is the best the world has ever seen don gloves.

It is in the bowling category that the most controversy was expected and that’s where the most variance occurred.

According to the Zone, Malcolm Marshall, Curtly Ambrose, Wasim Akram and Muttiah Muralitharan would provide the greatest bowling attack the world has ever seen.

The panel disagreed.

The panel, believed Marshall a shoo-in, New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee could not be left out, and South Africa’s Dale Steyn was the final pacer to make up a bowling attack that had one spinner in Muttiah Muralitharan.

Hadlee never stood a chance for the Fanalysts, and neither did Steyn for that matter.

For the Fanalysts, a choice between Muralitharan and Warne, the two bowlers with the most wickets in the history of Test cricket, was too difficult to make and they picked both.

That left space for just two pacers and the all-West-Indian pairing of Marshall and Ambrose was the obvious choice.

With 30 per cent of the vote going to Hadlee, and another 30 per cent going to Steyn, Warne easily made his way into the Ultimate XI with the Fanalysts offering him up with their 40.

Based on all the Ultimate XI profiles have told you about these players, tell us who was right.

Were the fans who got their way with Bradman and the two spinners right? Or is there something to be said for the experts who went with Hadlee and Steyn, or even the Zone, who decided on Akram?

Were the Fanalysts accurate in going against the grain with picking Greenidge ahead of Hayden, or were the Zone and the panel correct in overruling them?  

Crazy or not, we are trusting the Fanalysts again with our Ultimate XI ODI team. 

Check out the shortlist below, tell me who you would pick in the comments section on Facebook and Twitter then go and vote after we tell you how wrong you are. Voting begins later today after the SportsMax Zone on SportsMax.tv.

 

Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose was typically content to let the ball do the talking but recently recalled an occasion when he was tempted to let his fists answer a few questions of their own.

In 1993 the West Indies went into the fifth and final Test of a series against Australia at Perth tied at 1-1 and a number of brilliant performances made the game a one-sided affair, giving the visitors a not-so-close 2-1 victory.

“I like that about him,” Sir Curtly Ambrose had said about young West Indies pacer Alzarri Joseph. Sir Curtly was speaking about the fact that Joseph never seemed to smile and was most displeased when one of his deliveries got treated poorly. Sir Curtly saw in young Alzarri, some of what was very present when he bowled for the West Indies. An unyielding tenacity was present. He never liked to get hit and he certainly never liked to be bowling to one person for too long. He had to get you out and on 405 occasions, he did.

Sir Curtly’s tools were his height and his accuracy. From around 10 feet up, he would spare deliveries onto a length just outside offstump, aptly called the ‘corridor of uncertainty.’ Ambrose’s height meant he extracted steep bounce which could undo a batsman if he attempted to play forward to a delivery maybe nine times out of 10, he should have. But you wouldn’t have time to go back either because the ball was too full, leaving batsmen with no option but to abandon their footwork and use just their hands and eyes. Now movement became important because playing from your crease meant you had no time to react if the ball moved. Entering the fray are now caught behind, in the slip, at bat pad or short, extra cover, forward short leg, or even the deathly sound of a drag on. Sometimes a batsman may just end up going bowled.

That nagging line and length also meant Ambrose was ridiculously difficult to score off and has the best economy of any bowler with more than 400 wickets.

Sir Curtly’s best came against Australia in 1992-93 at the WACA where he decimated the opposition with 7-1, and again against England when he had 6-24 the following year at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago. Those spells are, to this day, considered among the most legendary, not just in the West Indies, but anywhere.

 

Career Statistics

Full name: Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose

Born: September 21, 1963, Swetes Village, Antigua

Major teams: West Indies, Leeward Islands, Northamptonshire, UWI Vice Chancellor's Celebrity XI, West Indies Masters

Playing role: Bowler

Batting style: Left-hand bat

Bowling style: Right-arm fast

 

Test Career:   West Indies (1988-2000)

Mat    Inns    Balls     Runs     Wkts   BBI       BBM     Ave      Econ     SR        4w    5w   10w

98       179     22103   8501      405     8/45      11/84   20.99     2.30      54.5      21     22      3

 

Career Highlights

  • Took 405 wickets at an average of 20.99
  • Best average for bowlers over 400 wickets
  • Best economy rate for bowlers over 400 wickets
  • Best figures in an innings 8 for 45

Here’s how it’s going to go.

With the Coronavirus killing sports, everybody has been in a nostalgic mood. We remember fondly, the greatest sporting moments in our rich Caribbean history and sometimes turn our eyes to the rest of the world for that instance when we felt unbridled jubilation or shock and awe at a performance.

Here at SportsMax it has been no different and after the early end to the West Indies Championship, we had vigorous debates about which region had, collectively, produced the best cricket team.

Out of that ‘conversation’, if you can indeed call it that, we wondered if you selected the best playing XI of all time from each regional team, who would win.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking to build a BestXI from each regional team. At the end of coming to a consensus about what those BestXIs would like, we will pit them against each other, just for laughs.

Let’s begin with the Leeward Islands, a region known for producing tremendous cricketers, who have made themselves an integral cog in the West Indies machinery. We figured that for each region, we would pick six batsmen, a wicketkeeper and four bowlers.

 

Leeward Islands BestXI

 

Stuart Williams (St Kitts & Nevis)

Stuart Williams was the heir apparent to Desmond Haynes in the West Indies setup but his cavalier way of batting proved his undoing at the highest level. But in first-class cricket, his strokeplay and appetite for runs made him dangerous. He would end his career with 26 first-class centuries and 36 half-centuries to his name from his 151 matches for the Leeward Islands.

 

Kieran Powell (St Kitts & Nevis)

Kieran Powell is a tall elegant left-hander, who now captains the Leeward Islands. He is graceful timer of the ball but you have to watch out for the power that underlines that grace. His 31 average is lower than his talent suggests but his seven centuries and 37 half-centuries mean you never know when he will come off and opposing bowlers will be in trouble.

Richie Richardson (Antigua)

Richie Richardson captained the West Indies as replacement for Viv Richardson, guiding a new set of stars. He did the same for the Leeward Islands, leading from the front just as Viv did before him. Richardson would play 234 first-class matches in which he scored 14,618 runs. Those runs included 37 centuries, 68 half-centuries at an average of 40.71.

Viv Richards (Antigua)

Sir Vivian Richards achievements on the international stage have been given their due and he is undoubtedly the best player to ever come from the Leeward Islands. The Antigua native captained the West Indies with the same confidence and swagger with which he led the Leeward Islands. During his first-class career, Sir Viv was a beast, scoring a mammoth 36 thousand plus runs inclusive of 114 centuries and 162 half-centuries. His average of 49.40 when you consider he played 507 first-class matches is nothing to scoff at either. Interestingly, he also took 223 first-class wickets.

Keith Arthurton (St Kitts & Nevis)

Keith Arthurton was a stylish left-hander whose flair made even the smallest total an attractive thing to watch him compile. His talent did not manifest itself at the Test level but as a first-class batsman he was devastating. Averaging 45.29, his 129 matches cost his opponents 7,926 runs, inclusive of 19 centuries and 47 half-centuries.

Runako Morton (St Kitts & Nevis)

Runako Morton died in a car crash at just 33 years old. By that time, his relationship with the West Indies side had spanned eight years even though he never did command a consistent place in the regional unit. Still, he was a mainstay for the Leeward Islands, playing 95 matches and accumulating 5,980 runs along the way. He scored 14 centuries and 37 half-centuries.

Ridley Jacobs (Antigua)

Ridley Jacobs was an unorthodox wicketkeeper but there weren’t many who were safer. He was also an obstinate batsman, who made sure every innings at whatever level he played, would be prolonged for that much longer. On the way to ensuring he does that, Ridley managed to score 7,518 runs in the 157 first-class matches he played. Included in those runs were 17 centuries and 40 half-centuries at an average of 38.75. Ridley was the man you wanted in your corner in a dogfight and according to his results, he usually won.

 

Andy Roberts (Antigua)

Andy Roberts needs no introduction to this list and, like Viv Richards is an automatic pic after his exploits with the West Indies put him in the category as one of the greatest fastbowlers of all time. Roberts, ended his first-class career after 228 matches, taking an incredible 889 wickets at an average of 21.01.

Eldine Baptiste (Antigua)

From a region of incredible fast bowlers, Eldine Baptiste is perhaps unlucky not to have played more Test cricket but he was a giant of first-class cricket in the region, taking 723 wickets in 245 matches at an average of 24.65. His best bowling figures of 8-76, while special, shows the consistency of effort from a man who has taken five wickets or more in an innings on 32 occasions. He has also taken 10 wickets in a match four times.

Kenny Benjamin (Antigua)

Antiguan-born Kenny Benjamin formed an important partnership with Winston Benjamin in the early 1990s for the West Indies. The two served as backups to Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose and helped to keep the legend of dangerous four-pronged pace attacks from the region alive until the West Indies were overtaken as kings of cricket in 1995 by Australia. Benjamin got his chance with the West Indies because he was impressive for the Leewards, even more so than his impressive namesake, Winston. In just 108 matches, Benjamin took 403 wickets at an average of 23.71, grabbing five-wicket hauls in an innings on 18 occasions. He also grabbed 10 in a game twice.

Curtly Ambrose (Antigua)

Curtly Ambrose is arguably the greatest first-class bowler the West Indies region has ever seen. His well-known accomplishments at the Test level aside, Ambrose was a giant. In just 239 first-class matches the Antiguan bagged 941 wickets, taking five-wicket hauls on 50 occasions and 10-wicket hauls in a match on eight.

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