Curtly upbeat for Aussie visit

CMC Legendary West Indies fast bowler Curtly Ambrose said he has seen some improvements by the West Indies during the recent Test and One-Day International home series against Sri Lanka in the Caribbean.

Sri Lanka won the first Test by 121 runs in Guyana and the West Indies bounced back to win the second Test by six wickets to square the two-match series 1-1.

The regional side also won the ensuing three-match One-Day International series 2-0 with the final game being washed out in St. Lucia.

Although reluctant to make a final verdict after one series, Ambrose, who played 98 Tests for the regional side between 1988 and 2000, admitted the team did show some improvement and appear to be gelling nicely under new skipper Chris Gayle.

‘I am one of those guys who don’t like to really say things after just one series.

“What I will, however, say is that I have seen some improvements. You can see that they are playing together as a team, which is very important,’ Ambrose said.

‘I think they still need to be a little bit more consistent so we have to see what happens when Australia comes.

“Australia is the best team in the world and so it will be a different challenge, but I must say that against Sri Lanka they seemed to be together and they are playing as a team.’

The West Indies will be facing world champions Australia in another three-Test and five One-Day International home series in the Caribbean next month.

Australia will begin their Caribbean tour on 12 May with the first Test against the West Indies at Sabina Park in Jamaica from 22 to 26 May.

The second Test is at the Sir Vivian Richards Cricket Ground in Antigua from 30 May to 3 June and Barbados will host the third Test from 12-16 June at the Kensington Oval.

Ambrose, who claimed 405 Test wickets during his career, said he is optimistic the West Indies will at least be competitive against the Australians.

The tall, Antiguan fast bowler said he will not be shocked if the West Indies spring a few surprises against the Australians.

‘Of course, I believe they will be competitive against Australia,’ Ambrose said.

“We all know that it will not be an easy series, but if our guys go out there and compete that is all we are asking for.

“We want them to compete to the best of their abilities.

‘I believe that there might just be a few surprises by the West Indies against Australia. Just don’t take anything for granted.’

They will play a Twenty20 game in Barbados on 20 June before moving on to Arnos Vale in St. Vincent for the first One-Day International on 24 June.

The two sides will also clash in ODIs at the National Stadium in Grenada on 27 and 29 June and will complete the series with the last two one-day matches at Warner Park in St. Kitts on 4 and 6 July.

Regional cricket fans will have the opportunity to see Ambrose don flannels again from Friday.

The lanky 44-year-old Antiguan has been included in the West Indies Players Association Masters team for the WIPA Twenty20 Club championships at Guaracara Park in Marabella, Trinidad.

Ambrose, who is currently playing basketball in the national domestic programme for Division One club side ABDF Warriors, said he is looking forward to reunite with some players whom he rubbed shoulders during his successful international career.

‘Yes I am looking forward to this tournament mainly to have some fun and interact with some of my colleagues during my playing days.

‘I haven’t seen some of these guys for a few years and I believe it will be nice to catch up with these guys and reminisce about old times. That’s what I am looking forward to mostly, not so much the cricket.

‘I am not in good shape for cricket right now, I am in basketball shape, but I believe the little experience will come into play. Playing 20 overs I believe I can handle that.’

The WIPA Masters team is a strong unit and will be captained by Jamaican Jimmy Adams.

The WIPA masters will join 11 other teams vying for the first prize of US$150,000 in the inaugural tournament. Also included in the WIPA team is another former great fast bowler Colin Croft.

President and CEO of WIPA, Dinanath Ramnarine is also on the team, as well as former T&T and West Indies leg-spinner Rajindra Dhanraj.

There are three Barbadians on the team, opener Sherwin Campbell, all-rounder and current coach of the Barbados team Vasbert Drakes, and medium pacer Corey Collymore.

Apart from ex-West Indies captain Adams, there are four Jamaicans on the squad – Wavell Hinds, Leon Garrick, former Jamaica youth player Denville McKenzie and player/coach Robert Haynes.

Current coach of the West Indies Under-15 team Keith Arthurton is also included on the team.

WIPA Masters will play the first game against UWI, Barbados at 2.30pm on Friday.

Ambrose has seen improvements Photo: AP