Nelson, New Zealand: Nearly 15 years after hanging up his boots, fast bowling icon Curtly Ambrose is back in West Indies colours and is a man on a mission.
The Windies legend will not be suiting up in the maroon gear to send down his thunderbolts but he is a key figure behind the scenes, making sure the Caribbean side are in tip-top shape to challenge for the game’s biggest prize, reported CMC.
Standing six feet and nine inches tall, Ambrose was a menace to batsmen. But despite a glittering career, he never managed to win the World Cup. He played in the 1992 edition in Australia and New Zealand, 1996 in Asia and 1999 in England but the trophy eluded him. He is now hoping to make amends in 2015.
“I was fortunate to participate in three World Cups, but winning is the one thing in my career that is missing. The only regret, really, is that I never managed to win the World Cup with the West Indies. We won it back in 1975 and 1979 with the great teams under Clive Lloyd but when I came along we never quite won it," Ambrose said.
“This time I hope to be on the winning team. It would be a great delight for me to add the World Cup, not just for me but for this team and the many fans we have all over the world. For me it would be a good icing on the cake.”
Based on current form, the West Indies are not among the favourites. They were thrashed 1-4 in South Africa in a recent One-Day International (ODI) series, lost their warm-up match by nine wickets to England earlier this week, before narrowly beating Scotland by three runs four days later.
Ambrose, known for his intensity and desire to win during his playing days, said the West Indies would not be fazed by pundits' predictions.
“Not many people have given us a chance but for me that’s OK. What I told the team is that we have to prepare well and go out and give it all we have. We must show good aggression and play to our strength," he said.
"We must demonstrate that passion and that West Indian flair and play with confidence. We have our plans and I promise you we will do well.”
The 51-year-old Antiguan joined the Windies coaching staff in June last year and is with the team in New Zealand as they prepare for their opening World Cup match against Ireland at the Saxton Oval here Monday. It will be the first World Cup match at the small, quaint ground and all tickets were sold out more than three days before the game.
“When you look at our line-up, I believe we have a good team of players to do well in this tournament and beat the top teams. It will take a unified team effort for us to do well and I know we are capable of winning," Ambrose said.
"Everyone understands the importance of the World Cup and what is required out here. To win the World Cup would do a lot for our game and our people.”
Ambrose is rated as one of the greatest fast bowlers in the game’s history. He took 405 wickets in 98 Test matches at an amazing average of 20.99. He also played 179 ODIs and took 225 wickets at an astonishing economy rate of 3.48 runs per over.