Thursday, May 18, 2006
If you ask any cricket enthusiast nowadays "Who was the greatest fast bowler of the 90s?", they will hem and they will haw and will say "mm..Glenn McGrath..or Wasim or was it Courtney Walsh or may be Waqar..". Some people will even hazard "Vaas or maybe... Srinath". I throw up my hands in exasperation. Maybe this is another classic example of the myopic nature of the memory of the Indian Public...or maybe it is because the great man has been retired for some time now, but no one seems to remember the man in the picture above.
When I was a kid..and just getting introduced the world of cricket.. Curtly Ambrose was my unqualified hero. OK, Wasim may have had more craftiness up his sleeve and Waqars may have broken many a toe during his prime ...but to see Curtly Ambrose bound in towards the pitch with the crowd behind him..will remain, for me, the ultimate sight in Fast Bowling. Adding to this already awe inspiring sight of a 7 foot + giant bounding in towards the crease...was the fact that Ambrose was infallible. I have no recollection of him getting smashed over the park by a batsman in the first 15 overs of a one dayer. His economy rate in one dayers is an awesome 3.49..so I can sefely conclude that this is not a case of selective memory on my part.
His last test was against England. He took 4 wickets for 42 runs in the last innings that he bowled in. If great cricketers have a fault in common, it is to continue playing when they are clearly past their prime, hoping to capture shards of their past glory. Even the incomparable Sachin Tendulker has reduced himself to pedestrian. Curtly was the rare exception who knew it was time to go before he was asked to do so. Being asked repeatedly by all and sundry to reconsider his decision he replied "Yes, it still stands. I have my own mind, of course some people are trying to talk me out of it, but I have my own mind and I am sticking by that.'' And there was to be no second retirement. The curtain over one of the greatest acts of Fast Bowling had been closed for good.
Here's to "The King"!!!
Posted by Blackbird at Thursday, May 18, 2006