Sunday, 16 September 2007

Greatest Test XI: Curtley Ambrose

To continue our Greatest Test XI of the last century we pick our number ten.

Curtley Ambrose arguably had the greatest propensity for cricketing annihilation of any quick in this list. Given a wearing wicket, his pace and steepling bounce, generated from a 6ft7in frame, assisted by a McGrath-esque ability to consistently hit back-of-a-length just outside off-stump, made him virtually unplayable.

Yet there was much more to Ambrose’s game; he had a beautifully grooved action and could generate enough movement off the seam to remain a huge threat even when his pace had deserted him while, unlike similarly tall men, he did not over-bowl the short ball, and used his yorker to devastating effect. Even in the least helpful conditions, Ambrose was very seldom dominated; he did well in Asia, while his economy rate of 2.30 shows he was exceptionally parsimonious.

A few of Ambrose’s spells must rank amongst the very finest in the history of the game, relentless in their hostility. Top of the list is his breathtaking spell of 7-1, from 32 balls, at Perth (a ground that could have been made for him) in 1992. Indeed, he was consistently outstanding against Australia, the best side he faced. An equally memorable spell was his 6-24 at Bridgetown in 1994. Given an hour to bat in the evening, England subsided to a fired-up Ambrose, and were bowled out for 46 the following morning.

The mere sight of Ambrose gliding up to the wicket, before exploding onto the wicket and catapulting the ball down from almost 10ft, was truly one to behold. With the qualities he had, mere survival required tremendous skill and physical courage.

The side so far: Sutcliffe, Hutton, Bradman, Hammond, Sobers, Imran (captain), Gilchrist (wicket-keeper), Marshall, Warne, Ambrose

We now only have one player left to select. Share your views on the side by leaving a comment below.

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