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Ambrose, Curtly – Time to Talk

Autobiography of the great West Indian express bowler



Autobiography of the West Indian expressman, who is here this summer with the WI team. Forewords by Richie Benaud and Steve Waugh, hardback

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1 review for Ambrose, Curtly – Time to Talk

  1. Ken Piesse

    REVIEW of Curtly Ambrose’s new book Time to Talk by Ken Piesse:

    No-one had as intimidating a game face, or stare, as Curtly Ambrose, the West Indies’ silent assassin.
    Ambrose’s ability to make good length balls leap at the breast bone on even the flattest of wickets kept the Windies competitive and for 15 years they didn’t lose even one Test series.
    In his foreword to Ambrose’s intriguing autobiography Time to Talk, Steve Waugh said the ever-so-tall speedster was the best bowler he faced with his relentless off stump line and length.
    Many who witnessed his stunning post-lunch spell of seven for 1 against the 1992-93 Australians in Perth regard it as the finest ever spell of bowling.
    The grubber which castled Greg Blewett was as unplayable a delivery as I’ve seen.
    Yet Ambrose rates three of his performances as superior – especially his eight for 45 to demolish England at Kensington Oval in 1990.
    For a player who consistently shunned interviews during his headlining career, he explains his about-face ‘in going public’ simply. ‘The time feels right,’ he says.
    One of seven children raised and supported by his cricket-loving mother in the tiny village of Swetes in Antigua, Ambrose’s sporting ambitions pointed firmly towards the States and NBA basketball. His boyhood buddy Winston Benjamin says Ambrose ‘wouldn’t have killed an ant’ with the pace he was bowling at in his early teens.
    It wasn’t until he was 20 that he became serious about cricket but even then he wasn’t sure if he liked it that much.
    He was working changing tyres in a garage in Swetes when he first learnt of his 11th hour selection with Leeward Islands. But because he hadn’t been selected in the original team, he had to be talked into playing by his boss.
    After some initial success locally, he’d worn out his only pair of bowling boots and fully intended not playing a second season in 1985 as he preferred to spend any spare monies on going to the local cinema and watching old westerns.
    But the manager of the Swetes’ XI stepped in and bought him a pair, beginning a fast tracking which was soon to take him into the national team.
    In time Ambrose became only the fifth bowler to 400 Test wickets and along with his close friend and pace partner Courtney Walsh, he extended the West Indies world dominance just when it seemed to be fracturing with the retirements of some of its biggest names.
    The Windies did not lose a series for 15 years and even in the 1995 showdown with Australian, Ambrose is sure the Windies would have maintained their unbeaten series record had veteran opener Desmond Haynes not fallen victim of selection politics.
    It was during this combative series, at Queen’s Park, that an enraged Ambrose threatened to flatten Steve Waugh in mid-pitch before being hauled away by his captain Richie Richardson.
    ‘I asked him if he had sworn at me and he said, “I can say what I wanna say.”
    Ambrose exploded, saying: ‘Man don’t you effing swear at me again.’
    ‘I got seriously heated. I lost it and told Waugh: “Man I will knock you out – here and now. I don’t care if I have no career left.”
    ‘I wanted to get physical. I was going to beat him. I was that mad. I certainly was not worried about any ban or anything like that at the time. Beating him would have given me some satisfaction… he needed to be shown that you don’t speak to Curtly Ambrose like that…’
    Waugh never did back down and in the next Test, the decider, his double century lifted Australia to the unofficial world championship.
    Ambrose says it was one which got away but remains proud that in six series against Australia, the Windies won three with one drawn (in 1999).
    Of his famous WACA blitz, which saw him named the International Cricketer of the Summer, Ambrose said ‘none in world cricket could have subdued me’ that day, ‘not even Sir Donald Bradman in his pomp, Sir Vivian Richards or Sir Garry Sobers. I was unstoppable.’
    Knighted in 2014, alongside fellow Antiguans Richardson and Andy Roberts, Ambrose was given an acre of land by the Antiguan government for his contributions to the game.
    Now working in the mainstream again as the Windies’ fast bowling coach, Ambrose says it might take the West Indies 15 years to be No. 1 again. The key, he says, is uncovering the fast bowlers, three and four at a time. Then the West Indies will again reign supreme, like in the 80s and ‘90s.

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