The world’s most creative cricket duo Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad are soon playing their last Ashes series. Ahead of the game, two West Indies legends talk about what it takes to build a successful bowling partnership.
While some people may have seen their partnership as chance relationship, West Indies legends Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh recently revealed to Betway Cricket that their sense of brotherhood went beyond the boundaries of the pitch.
The bowling partnership between Walsh and Ambrose was famous for belligerence and intimidation. However, in a recent conversation with Sportsbook Betway, the duo is quite relaxed on how the world remembers them. Ambrose revealed his utmost passion for present-day bowlers.
“As part of the fast bowling fraternity, and very passionate about it, I love to see fast bowlers doing well,” Ambrose said, adding that he’s happy to see current bowlers more successful than former champions.
Jimmy and Stuey Doing Great
Walsh believes that both Anderson and Broad are doing great in the pitch. Personal egos aside, the two legends recounted how they employed synergy in the pitch to ensure that they achieved overall satisfaction.
Walsh and Ambrose underscored the tremendous work done by Jimmy and Stuart, putting Australia in the limelight as a winner of the 2019 Ashes. In recent years, only Australia triumphed over the West Indies, having won more Test matches from 1988 to 2000. Besides, the win-loss ratio between the two countries was the second-best up to 1995.
In a combined 230 Test matches, the West Indies legends Walsh and Ambrose garnered 924 wicket-taking tallies—405 for Ambrose and 519 for Walsh.
Setting the Bar
Walsh believes that they set the bar, as far as bowling is concerned. Starting together in 52 Test matches, they sent back 412 batsmen, making them one of the bowling partnerships that have dealt with more scalps.
“I think we set the bar...History will tell you that our records were broken, but it’s good to be able to say that,” Walsh says.
The bowling pair that met through twists of fate grew to be a force to reckon with in the cricket pitch. Ambrose remembers that at a young age, while he used to bowl with senior guys, he wasn’t much into cricket. He always loved basketball and football. Cricket became a distant third.
Fortunately, the former cricket champion says that his mother—a cricket fanatic, was the driving force for getting him into the game. Similarly, Walsh almost took a different path altogether. He originally started as a spinner and gave it his best.
Walsh remembers the place where it all began.
“But there was this concrete strip at Melbourne Cricket Club in Jamaica, where Michael Holding used to play, and I used to run in and bowl fast on that. That’s where it all started,” Walsh says.
Joining the West Indies Team
In 1984, Walsh first joined the West Indies team as a fast bowler. Four years later, Ambrose joined him.
Originally, the two had little to share. However, the on-field chemistry between them blossomed when they had to spend more time together outside the field. Ambrose reveals that their partnership did not start when he joined the team but rather when they had time together as roommates.
“In 1990, we became roommates, and that’s when we learnt a lot about each other and our friendship really started.”
As roommates, they had more time together, dined together, chatted, and discussed issues beyond cricket. This helped them to know and understand each other, including their perspectives about different things.
In their first game against two other new-ball partnerships to take up 400 wickets, the pair (Ambrose and Walsh) triumphed over the others to reach the goal Anderson and Broad of England and Akram and Younis of Pakistan.
The pair believes that it was important for them to complement each other instead of competing against each other. According to Ambrose, “there is no secret or magic to it.”
He reveals that when it was Walsh’s turn to take the wickets, Ambrose would make sure he kept the same pressure from the same end. And when it Ambrose’s turn, Walsh would simply do the same.
A Brother’s Keeper
Importantly, Walsh they “looked after each other.” He would look for Ambrose from the boundary, telling him what he had seen or noticed. Ambrose would do just the same for him. The pair believes that the bowling partnerships should complement each other.
“The best partnerships complement each other, but don’t compete against each other,” Walsh says.
All the same, occasionally they had their competitive juices flowing. That means each of them was free to exercise his individual potential, but working for the overall good of their partnership. They found it jovial. For example, Curtly loved doing things first, while Courtney was keen on the ultimate prize. Walsh remembers the time when, as a first bowler, he took 500 wickets in a Test match. On the other hand, in January 1993, Ambrose ardently emerged the winner with a 7-1 in one spell in their daily competition against Australia.
In 1994, the partnership was tested when Walsh took over as the West Indies captain, replacing Richie Richardson. This added a discomfited dynamic to the partnership.
At that point, Ambrose “still had choice of ends.” Therefore, he went for the end with the breeze at his back on condition that Walsh had to “bowl into the wind.”
Walsh thought he was joking, considering he (Walsh) was the captain. However, it was no big deal. It’s easy to notice that the pair worked together for the overall good of their team, and that extinguished any personal tension what could arise.
Cherish each other’s company
Walsh says that one of the motivators of the West Indies team was their ability to accommodate each other’s company.
“It was a tremendous effort all round – every time you looked at that particular team you’d think, ‘Wow’. What we did was what the team required first and foremost.”
Anderson and Broad can spice up their bowling partnership with the advice put forth by Walsh and Ambrose. As the final leg of the Ashes series draws near, the pair stands out as the greatest fast bowling partnership of all time.