Saturday, 1 April, 2023

‘You can’t be playing every day, partying every night’

‘You can’t be playing every day, partying every night’
Curtly Ambrose

Legendary West Indian bowler, Curtly Ambrose, is undoubtedly one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time; he totalled 405 Test wickets in 98 matches and 225 one-day international wickets in 176 matches. After his retirement in 2000 after a series against England, he was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame in 2011 for his outstanding career records. Ambrose has previously had spells as a bowling coach of West Indies - he was in the role when the team won the World T20 in 2016. In January 2022, he was appointed as the bowling coach of Jamaica Tallawahs for the CPL 2022 edition. The 59-year-old former right-arm fast bowler and the left-handed batsman is working with the ongoing Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) as a commentator. Ambrose recently talked to The Daily Sun regarding his enjoyment of coaching and cricket as well as commentary in Bangladesh.


Here are the excerpts from the interview:    


The Daily Sun: How are you enjoying your stint in Bangladesh?

Curtly Ambrose: When I arrived here a few weeks ago and I was asked if it was my first time in Bangladesh I did say yes because I thought it was until I was made to understand that I came way back in 1999 with the West Indies team. I totally forgot that. So far it has been good and no issues. I’m enjoying the cricket and enjoying the commentary and so it’s been very good so far.

The Daily Sun: How are you enjoying your commentary?

Curtly Ambrose: I love it. I do enjoy coaching and commentary, you know I mean coaching because I like to give back to cricket and it means a lot to me and commenting that you look at the game from different angles without being really involved and I have played before so I believe that I can analyse the game and give a fair assessment. I do enjoy coaching and commentating.

The Daily Sun: In the future, you will be doing both coaching and commentary?

Curtly Ambrose: Of course. I do enjoy both and whichever comes first and I have the time. I am mostly available to coach or commentate so whenever the opportunity presents itself I always jump and challenge because it’s something I do and enjoy a lot. If I don’t enjoy something I prefer not to do it so I do enjoy both.

The Daily Sun: Did you try any Bangladeshi cuisine?

Curtly Ambrose: I have tried and I don’t have much of a choice do I? Coming from Antigua and coming from the Caribbean there is a difference so I am gradually getting used to Bangladeshi cuisine and it’s been ok. It’s not that I like to be honest but I am surviving and I have no complaints and I am not a guy who normally complains. I try to go with whatever is available and try to adjust the best I can and I don’t have any complaints.

The Daily Sun: How would you rate Bangladeshi pacers like Taskin Ahmed, Mustafizur Rahman and Ebadot Hossain?

Curtly Ambrose: I had a word with Taskin not so long ago and I have seen some good bowlers I am sure but I don’t particularly call the names too much because from past experience some there I called names and guys there Curtly Ambrose said good or whatever and feel complacent and feel that they have arrived so trying not to call names openly. I will talk with them one on one or whatever but I have seen some good bowlers that are for sure.

The Daily Sun: When you met Taskin you mentioned you don’t need to be a bodybuilder to bowl fast. Can you explain that elaborately?

Curtly Ambrose: It’s very simple as far as fast bowlers you need to be flexible and you need to be subtle and you need your limbs to be loose and I don’t have any problem with guys going to the gym to get a bit stronger but I always cautioned them that you don’t need to be a bodybuilder or be bulky and lose your flexibility and your mobility. If you can’t bowl because you are not flexible and you don’t have mobility and agility what is the point? I still believe from my experience that the best way to go was to get in many shapes and much ready. You should do a lot of running and a lot of bowling. Why? Because that is what you’re gonna do on the field. Lots of running and a lot of bowling to get you much fit and your legs are so important because if your legs go then it’s all over for you. A lot of guys go to the gym and work on their upper body neglecting their legs and after four or five overs the legs are tired and they can’t bowl anymore. So I think a lot of running and a lot of bowling to get much fit.

The Daily Sun: There is lots of cricket going around. Is it a big challenge for pace bowlers?

Curtly Ambrose: It’s a challenge and when you are a top player and playing all three formats and with so many crickets being played these days you hardly find time to rest and recover and your body does need time to recover. It’s hard but if you can maintain good fitness and rest well whenever you can I believe you can survive in all three formats. You can’t be playing every day and partying every night because you won’t be lasting very long. You have to find time to rest and maintain fitness because fitness is the key. Apart from skills as a fast bowler, you have to be in good shape to play long in this game.

The Daily Sun: How is the standard of BPL?

Curtly Ambrose: As I said earlier it was my first time here and I saw some very good cricket. Even if there were some below-par scores like 130 or 140 you still see exciting cricket and that is what it is all about. You don’t always put 200 or 180. It’s exciting cricket and that’s what we like to see and the spectators like to see.

The Daily Sun: What about franchise-based cricket? Is it good for cricket?

Curtly Ambrose: I don’t have any problem with T20Is though some past cricketers don’t like T20s and I don’t have any problem with that. It’s an exciting game and it brings the crowd in and it’s good for the game and earlier it was ODIs and Tests and now once you do well in the T20s spectators want to see whether you can translate that into Tests and ODIs so you bring people. But for me, I think Test match cricket is the real cricket and the ultimate. In T20s, you can hit two sixes and the crowd loves it but that doesn’t really test your skill as a cricketer and to test your skill as a cricketer it has to be Test cricket for me and so I prefer Test cricket any day.

The Daily Sun: Do you miss T20 cricket?

Curtly Ambrose: No not at all. Why would I? Fast bowling is hard work and played for 12 and a half years constantly and I don’t miss it. You may miss dressing rooms sometimes being with the teammates and stuff like that but I don’t miss cricket because I gave what I had and I just retired quietly with no regrets whatsoever.

The Daily Sun: Do you think pace bowlers are reducing their pace due to so many crickets around as they have to manage their workload?

Curtly Ambrose: It depends on the situation and the condition because if you are playing in a slow track that is not conducive to fast bowlers you don’t try to bowl 150 every single delivery. With so much cricket played around you can’t go flat out every single delivery for any bowler no matter how much fit you are and you have to know when to pace yourself when to let it go and when to hold back a little bit and so 150 couple of deliveries and maybe a little bit slower and that will confuse the batsmen and it all comes with experience.

The Daily Sun: How do you see Mashrafe’s bowling at this age?

Curtly Ambrose: Some guys are passionate and love the game a lot and just keep going and I am the opposite and I never really liked cricket that much and it was all basketball and once I started playing cricket I stepped over that room and I am a very proud man and I want to be the best that I can be and once I retired it was a huge relief and no turning back. Some guys keep going and love it.

The Daily Sun: Do you think when you have an idol like Mashrafe that helps a generation to grow and take fast bowling?

Curtly Ambrose: Of course, you have got to have idols and it helps a lot because you want to be like them or better than them. So that is the inspiration right there like I want to be like him or want to be better than him.

The Daily Sun: You have seen wickets in BPL do you feel it is encouraging for fast bowlers?

Curtly Ambrose: They are very proper wickets. When I came here I didn’t know what to expect in this condition. In my mind, I was thinking Bangladesh may have a low and slow wicket but I am very impressed with the pitches here in Dhaka as well as in Sylhet and Chattogram. I am very impressed because it has something for the fast bowlers and it also something for the spinners and for me, all three venues have good cricket surfaces and are good for cricket. It will certainly help the fast bowlers because when fast bowlers have some bounce and pace that will encourage them. If it’s slow and low they are turned off and so I am quite impressed with the standard of pitches here and it’s only good for cricket.