By Neto Baptiste
Iconic former fast bowler Sir Curtly Ambrose said that playing against South Africa on that country’s return to International cricket in 1992, was one of his greatest moments as a West Indies player.
Speaking on the Good Morning Jojo Sports Show, Sir Curtly, who had overall figures of eight for 81 in the Test — as West Indies beat what was considered a rookie South Africa squad by 52 runs — said the performance was special because of the position from which they had to bowl the Caribbean team to victory.
“I would rate that as a special moment because South Africa came back into International cricket after 20 plus years and they had a bunch of rookies and all 10 of them out of 11 were making their debut. The only one that would have played Test before was Kepler Wessels, who was the captain, and they almost beat us, and for myself and Courtney Walsh to drag West Indies to victory then, was a special moment because it would have reflected real badly to see a rookie team beating the number one team in the world,” he said.
Sir Curtly had help from fellow pacer Courtney Walsh who, after a poor showing in the first innings of none for 71 in 27 overs, returned to claim four for 31 in 22 overs.
The ICC reinstated South Africa as a Test nation in 1991 after the deconstruction of apartheid, and the team played its first sanctioned match since 1970 (and its first ever One-Day International) against India in Calcutta on 10 November 1991.
In April of 1992, South Africa played their first Test on their return to international cricket in Barbados against the West Indies.
Asked of his spell of seven wickets for just one run against Australia at Perth in 1993, Sir Curtly said that although the performance was one for the record books, the game situation was not as dire as that in the Test against South Africa.
“A lot of people talk about that spell right and yes, to take seven wickets for one run in a spell of about five overs or so is unheard of, so it was a special moment, but at the same time I was never really under any pressure. It was the first morning of the game, the pitch was conducive for fast bowling and everything was just right for me, so most of the times when I talk about that I don’t put it as number one because everything was in my favour. Yes, seven for one sounds special and it is special but there were other games we played where our backs were against the wall and we pulled through and those are more important to me because of the situation of the game,” he said.
Sir Curtly celebrated his 57th birthday on Monday.