NELSON, New Zealand, CMC – Nearly 15 years after hanging up his boots, fast bowling icon Sir Curtly Ambrose is back in West Indies colours and is a man on a mission.
The Windies legend will not be suiting up in the maroon gear to send down his thunderbolts but he is a key figure behind the scenes making sure the Caribbean side are in tip-top shape to challenge for the game’s biggest prize.
Standing six feet, nine inches tall, Ambrose was a menace to batsmen all over the world. But despite a glittering career, he never managed to win the World Cup. He played in the 1992 edition in Australia, 1996 in Asia and 1999 in England but the trophy eluded him on every occasion. He is now hoping to make amends in 2015.
“I was fortunate to participate in three World Cups, but it (winning) is the one thing in my career that is missing. The only regret, really, is that I never managed to win the World Cup with the West Indies,” Sir Curtly told CMC Sports. “We won it back in 1975 and 1979 with the great teams under Clive Lloyd, but when I came along we never quite won it. “This time I hope to be on the winning team. It would be a great delight for me to add the World Cup … not just for me but for this team and the many fans we have all over the world. For me it would be a good icing on the cake.”
Based on current form, West Indies are not among the favourites. They were thrashed 4-1 in South Africa in a recent ODI series there, lost their opening official warm-up match by nine wickets to England earlier in the week, before narrowly beating Scotland by three runs four days later.
Sir Curtly, known for his intensity and desire to win during his playing days, said West Indies would not be fazed by pundits predictions. “Not many people have given us a chance, but for me that’s OK. What I told the team is that we have to prepare well and go out and give it all we have,” he said.
“We must show good aggression and play to our strength. We must demonstrate that passion and that West Indian flair and play with confidence. We have our plans and I promise you we will do well.”
The 51-year-old Antiguan joined the Windies coaching staff in June last year and is with the team in New Zealand as they prepare for their opening World Cup match against Ireland at the Saxton Oval here.
It will be the first Cricket World Cup match at the small, quaint ground and all tickets were sold out more than three days before the game. The match will be played on Sunday evening (Caribbean Time).
“When you look at our line-up I believe we have a good team of players to do well in this tournament and beat the top teams,” Sir Curtly contended.
“It will take a unified team effort for us to do well and I know we are capable of winning. Everyone understands the importance of the World Cup and what is required out here. To win the World Cup would do a lot for our game and our people.”
Sir Curtly, who was knighted by the Antigua government last year, is rated as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the game’s history.
He took 405 wickets in 98 Test matches at an amazing average of 20.99. He also played 179 One-Day Internationals and took 225 wickets at an astonishing economy rate of 3.48 runs per over.