Torn between two countries

Curtly Ambrose was a tough cricketer. The legendary fast bowler was as mean as they come when it meant dismissing and dismantling opposition batsmen for the West Indies cricket team.

However, the Stanford 20/20 Cricket Tournament has brought out a softer, gentler side in the giant fast bowler. You see Ambrose is the Stanford 20/20 legend assigned to the neighbouring isles of Nevis and St. Kitts, who ironically enough, will face each other on Friday, 14 July in the preliminary rounds of what is to be the world’s most lucrative tournament in the entire history of the game.

Ambrose is torn between the two sides, and he doesn’t know which one to root for. He admits that he had hopes for his teams to have met in the grand final on 13 August, but this cannot happen.

‘Ah boy, I never thought this would have happened, but this is just the way it was meant to be. Who would have ever thought they would be going head to head so soon? One will have to go home after the first round and for me that’s a bit sad,’ said Ambrose. ‘However, I can tell you that the match between Nevis and St. Kitts will be a grand showdown. That will be a final before the final!’

Standing at 6’8′, Ambrose was a principal of the West Indies team in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s. In his illustrious cricket career he took 405 wickets in 98 test matches, with a best performance of 8 for 45 against England to win the 1990 Test match in Barbados. He was a mean customer in limited-overs cricket too. In his heyday he was seen as the most difficult bowler in the world to negotiate and this brought him 225 wickets in 176 one-day internationals with a miserly economy rate of 3.48 runs per over. Nowadays, he’s a 42-year-old bass player in a band called Dread and the Baldhead band!

Ambi is looking forward to this summer’s Stanford 20/20 Tournament.

‘My two teams will be going at it. One has to lose, but what I am confident about is that either team that wins the match will go close to winning the title and that purse,’ he declared with confidence.

The prize for the winning team is a whopping US$1 million, and the Man of the Match in the final game will pocket US$100,000.

‘I hope that whichever of the two teams that makes it through will go all the way. I have visited both islands and I know the players are very excited about playing in the tournament. Everywhere – in the streets, on the fields, in the communities – people on both islands are talking about the Stanford 20/20 and that’s good for West Indies cricket. It’s back on the map and on everyone’s lips. This tournament is going to be huge!’

Ambrose says that the framework for the tournament has been put in place in both St. Kitts and Nevis and he was impressed with what the cricket boards of both countries were doing with the US$280,000 that was given to them by Antiguan financier Allen Stanford. S$100,000 of this money has gone directly to the development of infrastructure and the remaining funds will go toward the financial support of the coaches and players and maintenance of equipment and facilities, as mandated by Stanford and his board of directors.

‘Nevis, as you know, is the smaller of the two islands and it has fewer grounds, but there is enormous potential there. As you know, they have produced five West Indies players and St. Kitts hasn’t produced one yet, so the Nevisians are ahead in that regard,’ Ambrose noted. ‘Nevis has also put the systems in place to make even more moves forward. They have done a tremendous job, and despite being small, their plans are big and their initiatives are very well thought out.’

Ambi had equally positive things to say about St. Kitts.

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