Saturday, 21 March 2015



Curtly Elconn Lynwall Ambrose (born 21 September 1963) is a former cricketer from Antigua who played 98 Test matches for the West Indies. A fast bowler, he took 405 Test wickets at an average of 20.99 and topped the ICC Player Rankings for much of his career to be rated the best bowler in the world. His great height he is 6 feet 7 inches ''2.01 m'' tall allowed him to make the ball bounce unusually high after he delivered it; allied to his pace and accuracy, it made him a difficult bowler for batsmen to face. A man of few words during his career, he was notoriously reluctant to speak to journalists. He was chosen as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1992; after he retired he was entered into the International Cricket Council Hall of Fame and selected as one of West Indies all time XI by a panel of experts.
Born in SwetesAntigua, Curtly Ambrose came to cricket at a relatively late age, having preferred basketball in his youth, but quickly made an impression as a fast bowler. Progressing through regional and national teams, he was first chosen for the West Indies in 1988. He was almost immediately successful and remained in the team until his retirement in 2000. On many occasions, his bowling was responsible for the West Indies winning matches which seemed lost, particularly in association 
with Courtney Walsh. Against Australia in 1993, he took seven wickets while conceding a single run; in 1994 he was largely responsible for bowling England out for 46 runs, taking six for 24 ''six wickets for 24 runs''. Curtly Ambrose's bowling method relied on accuracy and conceding few runs; several of his best performances came when he took wickets in quick succession to devastate the opposition. He was particularly successful against leading batsmen. From 1995, Curtly Ambrose was increasingly affected by injury, and several times critics claimed that he was no longer effective. However, he continued to take wickets regularly up until his retirement, although he was sometimes less effective in the early matches of a series. In his final years, the West Indies team was in decline and often relied heavily on Curtly Ambrose and Walsh; both men often bowled with little support from the other bowlers. Following his retirement, Curtly Ambrose has pursued a career in music as the bass guitarist in a reggae band. He was knighted by the Antiguan government in 2014.


Curtly Ambrose was born in SwetesAntigua on 21 September 1963, the fourth of seven children. His father was a carpenter from the village. The family had no background in cricket, but his mother was a fan, and Curtly Ambrose played in his youth, primarily as a batsman. At school, he performed well academically, particularly in mathematics and French, and became an apprentice carpenter upon leaving at the age of 17. He briefly considered emigrating to America. At the time, his favourite sport was basketball, although he occasionally umpired cricket matches. Curtly Ambrose was not particularly tall until he reached his late teens, when he grew several inches to reach a height of 6 feet 7 inches ''2.01 m''. Around this time, his mother encouraged him to become more involved in cricket. Success as a fast bowler in a softball cricket match persuaded Curtly Ambrose to play in some club matches at the age of 20. He quickly attracted the attention of coaches and progressed to the St John's cricket team. Selected in the Leeward Islands competition, he took seven for 67 ''seven wickets for 67 runs'' for Antigua against St Kitts. He made his first class debut for the Leeward Islands in 1985-86 and took four wickets in the game, but failed to retain his place the following year. A Viv Richards scholarship provided funding for him to play club cricket in England for Chester Boughton Hall Cricket Club in the highly rated Liverpool Competition during 1986 where he took 84 wickets at an average of 9.80. The following year, he returned to England to play for Heywood Cricket Club in the Central Lancashire League, for whom he took 115 wickets in the season; these experiences helped to improve his bowling technique.
Upon his return to Antigua, Curtly Ambrose practised intensely, regained his place in the Leeward Islands team and, in the absence of leading bowlers Winston Benjamin and Eldine Baptiste with the West Indies team, became the main attacking bowler in the side. He was no balled for throwing in the first match, which Wisden Cricketers' Almanack later attributed to confusion caused by his attribute of flicking his wrist prior to releasing the ball to impart extra pace, and there were no subsequent doubts about the legality of his bowling action. Retaining his place when the international bowlers returned, he took 35 wickets including 12 in a match against Guyana, of which nine were bowled in five matches in the competition. Wisden's report on the West Indian season said his performance was "dominant", although few had heard of him previously. Identifying his yorker as his most effective delivery, it noted that he "never lost his pace, his accuracy, or his thirst for wickets".


Pakistan toured the West Indies in 1988, Curtly Ambrose played in the One Day International ODI series, taking the place of the recently retired Joel Garner. He made his debut during the first match, on 12 March 1988 in Kingston, Jamaica, taking wickets with his third and ninth deliveries; he ended the innings with four for 39 from 10 overs. In the second match, he took four for 35 and followed with another two wickets in the third. West Indies won those first three matches to take the series, and Curtly Ambrose did not play in the fourth or fifth game. In the Test series which followed, Curtly Ambrose was less effective. In the first Test, he took two for 121 as West Indies lost at home for the first time in 10 years. Wisden noted that his debut was "unimpressive", but that he improved in the subsequent matches. He finished the series with seven wickets at an average of over 50 runs per wicket. Later that year, Curtly Ambrose was chosen to tour England. After appearing in early tour games, he was chosen for the first two ODIs, taking three wickets in total, but was omitted from the third. In the Test series, he played in all five matches to take 22 wickets at an average of 20.22, his best figures of four for 58 came in the fourth Test, in which he took seven wickets and was named man of the match. Writing in Wisden, commentator Tony Cozier described Curtly Ambrose as "a ready made replacement for Garner", the amount of bounce he generated after the ball pitched "made him a constant menace". In 1988-89, West Indies took part in an ODI tournament in Sharjah. Curtly Ambrose took 8 wickets, and was man of the match with four for 29 when West Indies defeated Pakistan in the final. From there, West Indies travelled to Australia for a series in which Curtly Ambrose was a dominant figure. The West Indies won the Test series 3-1, using controversial short pitched bowling tactics. Curtly Ambrose's height made him difficult to play as made the ball bounce more than other bowlers. Writing in Wisden, John Woodcock noted: "As in England, earlier in 1988, Curtly Ambrose's bowling was a telling factor. His advance compensated for something of a decline in 'Malcolm' Marshall's effectiveness". In the first Test, he took seven wickets, in the second, he took five wickets in a Test innings for the first time with five for 72, and finished with eight in the game and in the third, he took six wickets. His performances earned him man of the match award in the first and third games, and he ended the series with 26 wickets at an average of 21.46. He was West Indies leading wicket taker and headed the team bowling averages. In the ODI tournament that took place during the tour, West Indies defeated Australia in the final, Curtly Ambrose took 21 wickets in the series and twice took five wickets in an innings.
Suffering from fatigue and illness, Curtly Ambrose was less successful later in 1989 when India toured the West Indies he took just five wickets in the four Test series at an average of 54.60. West Indies toured Pakistan in late 1990, and Curtly Ambrose topped the team's bowling averages in a three match series which was drawn 1-1. He took 14 wickets at 17.07, but was overshadowed slightly by the performances of Ian Bishop. He played the first two ODIs, but missed the third after Pakistan had already won the series, and his best figures in the Tests came in the final match when he took five for 35. Then, when Australia toured West Indies from February 1991, Curtly Ambrose took 18 wickets in the five Tests at an average of 27.38. West Indies won the series 2-1, and Curtly Ambrose was fourth in the averages, but Tony Cozier observed in Wisden that the whole West Indies attack was dependable. Curtly Ambrose made an impression batting as part of a West Indian lower batting order which repeatedly added crucial runs during the series. He took part in two important partnerships to help his team recover from a difficult situation, and in the third match, he scored his only half century in Tests. He also took 20 first class wickets for Leeward Islands.
West Indies' next matches were in England. The Test series was drawn 2-2 and Curtly Ambrose was the team's leading wicket taker with 28 ''averaging 20.00'', he also came top of the bowling averages. He had a particular impact on Graeme Hick, who was appearing in Test cricket for the first time, dismissing him six times in seven innings with short pitched bowling. Accurate bowling was important in the series, played on a series of slow paced pitches, according to Scyld Berry, writing in Wisden, "Since the 1988 tour, Curtly Ambrose had improved his control to the point where a batsman had to play almost every ball and not with a scoring stroke, either". Berry suggests that West Indies may have won the series had Viv Richards used a different tactical approach with Curtly Ambrose's bowling. The bowler was not fully fit in the final Test, which may have affected the outcome. Berry describes "Curtly Ambrose's rise to the status of a giant with the mannerism of celebrating each wicket by whirling his arms upwards, like a flock of doves taking to the air." Curtly Ambrose twice took five wickets in an innings his best figures were six for 52 in the first Test, when he twice took wickets with consecutive deliveries. Curtly Ambrose was named man of the match in the third Test and adjudged West Indies man of the series. For his performances, Curtly Ambrose was named one of Wisden's Cricketers of the Year. The citation remarked on his consistency and stated: "Curtly Ambrose has the ability to exert a debilitating psychological influence which so often precipitates a cluster of wickets after the initial breach has been made Moreover, he was arguably the essential difference between the two sides in what proved to be a zestful series." The West Indies wicket keeperJeff Dujon, said, "He is mature beyond his years, has pace, accuracy, heart and determination, plus, importantly, real pride in economical figures.
During the 1991-92 season, West Indies played mainly one day cricket, taking part in tournaments in Sharjah where Curtly Ambrose took seven wickets, including an analysis of five for 53 and Australia, and took part in the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. In this tournament, Curtly Ambrose took seven wickets in seven games at an average of 33.57 and was the seventh most economical bowler among those who played more than one game. West Indies finished sixth in the qualifying table and failed to reach the semi finals. Curtly Ambrose returned home to play twice for the Leeward Islands in January 1992. In April 1992, South Africa toured West Indies for the first time, and played their first Test match for 22 years. Curtly Ambrose played in all three ODIs, all of which were won by West Indies. The Test match was the first time West Indies bowled under a new playing regulation which permitted only one bouncer per over; this seemed to affect the home bowlers, but Curtly Ambrose took two for 47 from 36 overs. South Africa began the final day of the match requiring 79 runs to win with just two batsmen out, but Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh took the last eight wickets for 26 runs to bowl West Indies to a 52 run win. On a difficult pitch for batting, the ball bounced unevenly, and both bowlers concentrated on accuracy. Curtly Ambrose took six for 34 in the second innings, and was named joint man of the match, in just over 60 overs, he took eight for 81 in the match. Returning to play for Northamptonshire, he was less effective. Hampered by a knee injury, which necessitated surgery after the English season, and suffering from many dropped catches, he took 50 first class wickets at an average of 26.14, but his performance compared unfavourably with other bowlers on the team. He was more effective in the Nat West Trophy, a one day competition that Northamptonshire won that season, in which he conceded fewer than two runs per over across five games. The West Indies toured Australia in 1992-93, recovering from losing the second Test to win the final two matches and take the series 2-1. The team also won the annual World Series Cup. In the first three Tests, Curtly Ambrose was hampered by pitches which did not suit his bowling and, according to Tony Cozier writing in Wisden, was often unlucky when he bowled, although he took five for 66 in the first Test. In the final two Tests, he took 19 wickets. In the fourth he took ten wickets, including six for 74 in the first innings; in the second innings, he took three wickets in 19 deliveries and the West Indies won the match by one run. According to Cozier, the captains of both teams, Richie Richardson and Allan Border, "paid tribute to the man who made the result possible, Curtly Ambrose consolidated his reputation as the world's leading bowler". On the first day of the decisive final Test, Curtly Ambrose took seven wickets at the cost of one run from 32 deliveries and finished with figures of seven for 25. Cozier described it as "one of Test cricket's most devastating spells". West Indies won by an innings and Curtly Ambrose was named man of the series, having taken 33 wickets to equal the record in an Australia West Indies Test series. He topped the West Indian bowling averages with an average of 16.42. Cozier described Curtly Ambrose's performance as "instrumental in winning 'the series' " and his bowling as 'flawless'. In the one day tournament, Curtly Ambrose took 18 wickets at 13.38. He took eight wickets in the two match final both games were won by the West Indies. In the first final, he took five for 32, driven to bowl with more hostility when the Australian batsman Dean Jones asked him to remove his white wristbands while bowling. He followed up with three for 26 in the second match to be named player of the finals. After a one day tournament in South Africa, West Indies returned home for Test and ODI series against Pakistan. The ODI series was drawn, but the West Indies defeated Pakistan 2-0 in the Tests. Curtly Ambrose took nine wickets at 23.11 to be fifth in the team bowling averages. The Wisden report suggested that he was suffering from fatigue after his team's busy schedule, but although not at his best, he continued to take important wickets. For North amptonshire in 1993, Curtly Ambrose was second in the team first class bowling averages with 59 wickets at 20.45. Having developed a slower ball,and using 
the yorker more sparingly, Curtly Ambrose took five wickets in three games as West Indies won an ODI tournament in Sharjah in late October and November 1993. The team competed in another tournament, this time in India, later that November. They finished as runners up, and Curtly Ambrose took four wickets in five matches. Immediately following this, West Indies toured Sri Lanka to play three ODIs and a Test, a rain ruined match in which Curtly Ambrose took three wickets.
When he returned to the West Indies, Curtly Ambrose took 19 first class wickets for the Leeward Islands at an average of 11.68, in his first appearances for the islands in two years, but as England arrived to tour West Indies, he complained of fatigue and there were rumours he planned to retire. He played in three times in the five match ODI series, taking two wickets, and took a further two wickets in the first Test, which West Indies won. In Wisden, Alan Lee described his performances at this time as "lethargic", and in the Guardian, Paul Allott wrote that he bowled 'like a shadow' owing to the effects of continuous cricket. Curtly Ambrose was ineffective at the start of the second Test, but recovered, ending the match with eight wickets, according to Lee, he "struck the critical blows of the match" in the first innings. In the third Test, played in Trinidad, he took five for 60 in England's first innings, but after the visiting team built a substantial lead, West Indies were bowled out to leave England needing 194 to win and an hour to bat on the fourth evening. Curtly Ambrose took six wickets to leave England 40 for eight at the close of play; the next morning, they were bowled out for 46 and Curtly Ambrose had figures of six for 24 in the innings and match figures of 11 for 84, he was named man of the match. Lee described the collapse as "staggering", and judged Curtly Ambrose bowling to be "of the highest calibre". He continued. "He delivered one of the most devastating spells of even his career." Allott called it "the definitive spell of fast bowling". Curtly Ambrose took four wickets in the fourth Test, but West Indies lost the match, their first defeat in Barbados for 59 years, and Curtly Ambrose was fined £1,000 by the match referee for knocking down his stumps in frustration when he was the last man out. He took one more wicket in the drawn final Test to finish the series with 26 wickets and top the West Indian bowling averages. Writing in Wisden, Lee summarised  Curtly Ambrose's performances. 'Curtly Ambrose was magnificent. He was deservedly named man of the series, not only for taking 26 wickets at an average of 19.96 apiece and winning the Trinidad Test single handed, but for the more profound truth that West Indies now look to him whenever they need wickets. He carried the attack alone'.Curtly Ambrose returned to play for North amptonshire in 1994, but arrived later than scheduled. Claiming to need a rest, he missed his scheduled flight and arrived four days late. His absence may have contributed to North amptonshire's elimination in the preliminary stages of the Benson and Hedges Cup. At the time, members of the county were unhappy with Curtly Ambrose's performances for the team, the committee fined him, and he expressed contrition. During the remainder of the season, he bowled extremely effectively to take 77 first class wickets, the most for the club in 18 years, at an average of 14.45 to top the national bowling averages.

Injury (shoulder):

Curtly Ambrose's shoulder injury, caused by his bowling workload, caused him to miss the West Indies' tour of India in the last three months of 1994. Although he returned to join the tour of New Zealand in early 1995, he did not reach his full bowling pace, he took one wicket in the ODI series and five in the two Test matches. He remained in the team when Australia toured the Caribbean later in 1995, the West Indies lost the Test series 2-1, their first defeat in a Test series since 1980. After taking two wickets in four ODIs, Curtly Ambrose took 13 wickets at 19.84 in the four Test series to lead the West Indian averages. He took nine of these wickets in Trinidad during the third Test, when West Indies levelled the series having lost the first Test ''the second was drawn''. Bowling on a pitch that was extremely difficult for batting, and which both teams considered to be unsatisfactory, Curtly Ambrose took nine for 65 in the match and was named man of the match. During the game, Curtly Ambrose had to be pulled away from a verbal confrontation with Steve Waugh by the captain, Richardson. But outside of this match, the Australian team judged his bowling to have declined in pace following his shoulder injury, and that he lacked the variety to adapt to a different role. The West Indies' cricket manager, former Test bowler Andy Roberts, publicly claimed during the series that several of his team possessed 'attitude problems', and complained that the fast bowlers would not follow his advice.
During the tour of England which followed, Curtly Ambrose did not take a wicket in the three match ODI series, according to journalist Simon Barnes, both Curtly Ambrose and the team lacked confidence following their defeat by Australia, he lacked rhythm and displayed signs of frustration and unhappiness. He was more effective in the Test series, and according to Tony Cozier in Wisden, "was always captable of a spell of incisive, quality bowling". But he was affected by injury throughout the six match series; he withdrew injured from the third Test having bowled fewer than eight overs and missed the fifth Test completely. Other bowlers in the team overshadowed Curtly Ambrose, and it was not until the final Test that he reached his most effective form in taking five for 96 in the first innings and seven wickets in the match. Waving to the crowd as he left the field on the final day with an injury, Curtly Ambrose seemed to indicate that he would not tour England again. He ended the series third in the bowling averages with 21 wickets at 24.09. But according to Cozier, the senior players in the team caused problems for the management, and when the players returned home, Curtly Ambrose and three other members of the team were fined 10 per cent of their tour fee in Curtly Ambrose's case, the fine was for "general failings of behaviour and attitude", and setting a bad example to younger team mates.

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