Curtly Ambrose’s Demonic Spell in Perth (WACA) ’92/93

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People who have read and heard about the 1960 series of Australia vs West Indies will know how high voltage and high octane contest it was. You may sip your beer and eat chips over it for one moment and the other moment you may spit out the beer or may bite your finger because of the scenes you witness on the ground. The 1993 tour of West Indies to Australia was one such contest where the crowd gathered in large numbers to see all the 5 test matches only to witness the most dramatic series with one of the most demonic spells in cricket history after 1960.

It brought back the loving memories of the 1960 series of WI vs AUS, as Curtly Ambrose demolished the mighty Aussies in their own den. Australia had last won the series against the Caribbean giants in 1975/76 and in all those 15 years, West Indies had trounced Australia in six of the series’ and had drawn the series only once. This article is about one such demonic spell bowled by one of the most fearsome bowlers of the ’90s.

Lara the Great

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1993 tour awaited a series win for Australia and they already had drawn the Brisbane test and held the fort of Gabba where Windies had beaten them in 1988 and then won The Boxing Day Test at Melbourne comfortably by 139 runs. Centuries by Mark Waugh and Allan Border in the first innings and 7 for by the leggie Shane Warne sailed them home. The third Test at Sydney unfolded the class of the future great southpaw, Brian Lara, who thundered at SCG with a classic double century, his first ton taking Windies to a mammoth total of over 600 before falling on 277, eventually resulted in a draw.

The Walsh Express

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But Windies bounced back in Adelaide showing the world why they ruled the Cricket arena for nearly 17 years and won the Adelaide Test in an exhilarating manner with a narrow margin of just 1 run with the help of the bowling attack of then pace quartet of Ambrose, Walsh, Bishop, and Benjamin and squared the series 1-1. Perth, the fastest pitch in the world, was going to be a decider. For years, Alan Border had groomed the team and led them to the top. Australia under him was not going to give in so easily. Western Australia had always brought the cricket world all the adventure on the field by inducing fire in the deliveries. WACA was the fastest pitch globally, and both teams had an equal advantage over such pitches. Australia won the toss and elected to bat first, everything seemed fine with Aussies with such a balanced team and on the other hand, the Windies were without the services of Carl Hopper.

The Demonic Spell

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Ambrose, standing 6ft 7 inches was the tallest figure in the West Indian team who hitherto had bowled agonizingly well to bring back his team in the contest. Ian Bishop got Justin Langer and Steve Waugh cheaply and Australia was 58-2, but looking at the depth of batting that the Australian team carried, the Windies pacers knew it was a far more difficult job to halt them easily at a small score. Everything seemed in control for Australia until 85 for 2. The Aussies tickled the scorers slowly by taking singles but WACA then unleashed its true colors and woke the demon in Curtly Ambrose who bowled the most demonic spell of cricket history.

Mark Waugh was caught behind by Murray after that delivery from Ambrose came at a lightning speed. Boon, who hung at another end till now, edged one to Richardson who cupped that red cherry at gully. Alan Border nicked behind on the very first ball off a delivery who rose out of nowhere. The captain departed for naught. Ian Healy edged to Lara at first slip for naught too, Hughes tried to go over covers only to hit it in the air and was caught by Arthurton, Damien Martyn edged at second slip to Simmons, and lastly, Jo Angle edged it behind to Murray. Ambrose broke hell on Aussies and demolished the world’s most balanced batting attack in just 32 balls. Big bird conceded just 1 run and scalped 7 wickets. Australia was decimated from 85-2 to 119 all out. Windies managed to reach a respectable total with the help of gritty half-centuries by Simmons and Arthurton taking the lead of over 200 runs. In the second innings, Ian Bishop ran through the Aussies, taking 6 wickets and the Windies sailed home by innings and 25 runs. 

The Invincible Windies

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Australia lost the series 2-1 after winning the second Test and then losing narrowly in Adelaide. Ambrose took mammoth 33 wickets in 5 matches and won the well-deserved Man of the Match and Man of the Series. He rode his 11 team members in the Nissan Jeep on WACA, and Perth witnessed yet another scintillating win by the Windies. `

Australia after 17 years failed to defeat the might Windies team but had to wait just for another 18 months or so. In 1995, Australia won the series in Windies after 19 years and it’s been 27 years since then, West Indies have never won a series against Australia.

In 1979, Sarfaraz Nawaz performed the feats for the first time when Australia was cruising towards victory and was on driver’s sear at 305-2 chasing 382 and went on to collapse on 310 all out. Nawaz scalped 7 wickets off 33 deliveries giving away just one run but Ambrose’s spell made it into the top 100 spells ever bowled in the cricket history as this spell pulled the series victory for West Indies.

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