The first day of the fourth Test between England and the West Indies recently was made memorable by the fact that Curtly Ambrose reached the landmark of 400 wickets in Test cricket. Sir Richard Hadlee, Kapil Dev, Courtney Walsh and Wasim Akram are also in the club.
Ambrose, quiet and unassuming, rarely gives vent to his emotions, but he did when he had Mike Atherton caught in the slips by Brian Lara to reach the milestone. He danced and waved and embraced his teammates in jubilation as the crowd got up on its feet and gave him a standing ovation. Later, he answered questions as well with a smile. Here are excerpts from an interview:
Many congratulations, you must have been thrilled with the speed with which you took those two wickets.
It is always a nice feeling to take wickets in Test cricket, whether it is the first one or the 400th. I am just happy that it is all over and done with.
Were you specially fired up when you came out with only two wickets to go for the landmark?
No, not really, not any different from any other game. You have a job to do and you go in and try to do it to the best of your ability. Of course, it is nice to get 400 wickets. I was not more fired up than at any other time.
How is the realisation that you have joined an elite band of bowlers?
It is a nice feeling to get there. Not too many bowlers have done it in world cricket. I am the fifth, and it is a nice feeling for any bowler to join an elite band of people who have done it. At that moment I was happy, but that is all gone now.
You don’t feel elated in any way?
No. I don’t take my job home. I leave it right here on the cricket field. I enjoy all the glitter and glamour that happens here. When I leave, I leave it right here.
When you are bowling this well, are you having second thoughts about retiring?
No, not really. Nothing to do with me bowling well and not bowling well. I am still holding my own, but there has come a time when I have to leave. That is just it.
Were you gratified by the reception when you took 400 wickets and the crowd stood on its feet to applaud you?
Well, it was a nice feeling. I think over the years, I hope I have provided joy to spectators. I was very pleased to see the spectators acknowledge my 400 wickets.
Were your wife and daughters here to see your achievement?
No, I leave my family out of this. I think I should stick to my cricket and leave my family out of this.
You had some back spasms before the game...
While training, I felt a little pain in the back, so as a precautionary measure I decided not to continue. As an experienced player, one should know when to stop and when to continue.
Do you consider this as your greatest moment in cricket?
I wouldn’t say one of the greatest. It is a nice feeling to get 400 wickets. There were moments over the years when I was part of West Indies victories in Tests, which to me is the most satisfying.
You have taken 159 Test wickets against England. You really enjoy bowling to the Englishmen, don’t you?
I don't know if it is the right word – enjoy. The game is so tough, you get enjoyment some times, but looking back over the year, I think I have done well against England. It is one of those things that just happens. I have also done well against Australia and against other teams.
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