By Adam Burnett
“I WAS in the kind of mood that, I don’t think anyone on planet earth could have stopped me that day – everything just felt right.”
As brash a statement as it may be, it’s difficult to form an argument against Curtly Ambrose when it comes to discussing one of the finest fast-bowling spells in Test history.
Ambrose, the giant West Indian who was perhaps the most feared fast bowler of his era, was a handful on a bad day; when the planets aligned, he truly was unstoppable.
It happened on January 30, 1993 when Australia and West Indies met in Perth to decide who would come out on top of an epic five-match series.
“When we left the Caribbean, no-one gave us a chance,” Ambrose recalled for cricket.com.au in 2015.
“Australia were a powerful team, led by Allan Border. They had the Waugh brothers, (David) Boon, (Ian) Healy.
“They had all these fantastic players, Shane Warne came in … no-one gave us a chance.
“Because we’d lost Viv Richards the year before, Jeffrey Dujon, Malcolm Marshall, Gordon Greenidge – how can you replace those four legends, all at one time?
“We had an inexperienced team. Myself was there, Richie Richardson (had one Test as) captain, Desmond Haynes, Courtney Walsh … but most of the guys were rookies.”
The two teams had played out an all-time classic in Adelaide – won controversially by the West Indies by a single run – and four days later, when they convened at the WACA Ground in Perth, Ambrose sensed the opening play of the match would be pivotal.
“We looked at the pitch, and it looked ripe for fast bowling,” he said. “And I remember clearing saying to Richardson, our captain, ‘Skipper, if we win this toss, we win the Test match and the series’.
“When Richie came back he said, ‘Border won the toss’.
“I said, ‘Well, better bat well here boys’.
“To our surprise, ‘AB’ decided to bat first. We couldn’t understand it. And you know how the game went. So for me, I thought it was a mistake on the part of the great Allan Border.”
Australia crawled to 2-59 at lunch with David Boon and Mark Waugh at the crease. Ian Bishop had removed hometown youngster Justin Langer, as well as Steve Waugh, with Ambrose struggling to make an impact.
“My first spell in the morning was a waste,” he recalled. “I didn’t really get it right – I was all over the place.
“I was very upset with myself because I mark myself very hard, and so do my teammates. So I went into lunch very, very upset with the way I bowled on a good pitch, and I thought, ‘Man I gotta get back here and do something special’.
“And everything just fell into place. Mark Waugh was first, and then that was it – I was basically unstoppable.”
With a precise and devastating line and length, Ambrose found his groove, and repeatedly found the edges of bats.
In the blink of an eye, he had completed a truly stunning spell: seven wickets for one run in 32 balls.
Australia were routed for 119, West Indies won the Test by an innings, and retained their status as the world’s dominant Test force with a 2-1 series victory.
“When you’re in that kind of zone, you feel invincible,” Ambrose said. “And that was one of those periods where I felt I could do no wrong.”(Cricketcom.au)