ST JOHN’S, Antigua- The studio at Observer Radio was transformed into something that resembled a cricket-meets-party type atmosphere Friday as a number of former West Indies legends gathered at the company’s Coolidge location where they celebrated, in advance, the fiftieth birthday of former pacer Curtly Ambrose.
Former captain Sir Vivian Richards, former pacers Courtney Walsh, Kenneth “Flipper” Benjamin and Winston Benjamin all appeared on the Good Morning JoJo Sports Show alongside Ambrose, as they spoke of the player’s cricketing achievements while congratulating him on reaching this milestone.
Sir Viv, who captained Ambrose from 1988 to 1991, said the determined bowler put a lot of work into his game, calling him a “dream to captain.”
“He is one of those individuals who spent time on the field. You look at modern day fast bowlers, they play two matches and miss six, and things like that cannot keep a steady routine,” he said.
“But this guy is strong regardless of this boney frame, seriously strong, and that is why he was able to accomplish what he did in terms of the wickets he got in Test match cricket. Spending time on the field, you could never, ever do so off it and I guess he is a complement and he was a dream to captain, a real soldier.”
Walsh, who doubled with Ambrose to become the most dangerous pair in both Test and One Day Internationals between 1988 and 2000, said they created a bond that even today, remains unbroken.
“I say it without fear anywhere I go: Ambrose is like my brother. I played more against Winston, and Kenny in County cricket because ‘Ambi’ came on the scene late in terms of that and didn’t like much of it and we have always been friends; but Ambrose and I have built up a certain bond and if it wasn’t for cricket and the things we did on the field probably that bond would not be there,” the Jamaican said.
“And we don’t wait to get in touch; we are always in touch and it is something I cherish and will always cherish because he’s the brother that I probably didn’t have and we have bonded so well together and that is why we bonded so well as fast bowlers. We didn’t compete against each other. We complemented each other.”
“Ambi”, as he is affectionately known to his former team-mates, thanked those gathered for believing in him and his ability to do well, saying it was a joy stepping onto the pitch and representing his country.
“I know about reaching 50 because I have raised my bat a few times in First Class cricket and once in Test cricket so I know about reaching 50; but I want to say thanks to the guys very much and I really appreciate it,” he said.
“When I started, because of my frame, a lot of people figured I wouldn’t last more than a year or two in international cricket. But I come from country and I know I used to run cattle and sheep and goats and things, so I am strong; and I knocked down mangoes and coconuts and so off trees so I knew I was strong but I had a wonderful career.
“I was surrounded by some wonderful players as well which made it a lot easier so I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It was a pleasure for me to represent my country with distinction,” Ambrose added.
The cake, which was produced by Island Heartstrings, a home-based cake-making business, depicted a field with a cricket pitch in the middle. The creation also included a ball that had knocked over the stumps. Champagne and wines were donated by Kennedy’s Club Ltd.
Ambrose celebrates his fiftieth birthday on Saturday.