News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Mon. Aug. 19, 2019: As top English bowlers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad gear up to play in their last Ashes series, two West Indies legends are looking back on their success as a new-ball duo.
Of the three new-ball partnerships to take over 400 wickets, Windies bowling greats Courtney Walsh and Curtly Ambrose reached the milestone before Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis of Pakistan and England’s Anderson and Broad.
The two developed an on-field partnership after they were forced to room together. They credit their close friendship for their devastating bowling.
“There is no secret or magic to it,” said Ambrose. “If he [Walsh] was taking wickets, then my job was simply to make sure I kept the same pressure from the same end. If it was my day, he’d do the same.”
“We looked after each other,” added Walsh. “I would look to him from the boundary and tell him what I had seen or what I had noticed. And he would do the same for me. The best partnerships complement each other, but don’t compete against each other.”
Walsh and Ambrose played a combined 230 Test matches, with their individual wicket-taking tallies – 519 for Walsh and 405 for Ambrose – adding up to 924 overall.
They opened the bowling together in 52 Test matches, sending 412 batsmen back on their way. Only two new-ball partnerships have managed more scalps.
“I think we set the bar,” commented Walsh. “History will tell you that our records were broken, but it’s good to be able to say that.
Walsh can lay claim to the ultimate prize. He describes the moment when he became the first bowler to take 500 wickets in Test cricket as the highlight of his career.
Yet Ambrose emphatically won the pair’s daily competition when he took 7-1 in one spell against Australia in January 1993; “a really freakish moment – something that is unheard of.”
He notes that he choose to end with the breeze at my back, and bowl into the wind.
“One of the highlights of the West Indies team was that we cherished everybody’s company,” added Walsh. “It was a tremendous effort all round – every time you looked at that particular team you’d think, ‘Wow!’ What we did was what the team required first and foremost.”
Both players also revealed that they were never invested in their own egos or legacies but winning as a team.
“If I take 10 wickets in a Test match and we lose it’s a waste of time,” says Ambrose. “I love winning, winning is a nice feeling. I don’t take losing very well.”
As Anderson and Broad prepare for what will surely be their final Ashes series as a pair, the greatest fast bowling partnership of all time will be heavily debated. Walsh and Ambrose are paying homage to the two while looking to the future.
“What Jimmy [Anderson] and Stuey [Broad] have done for the game, for example, is tremendous,” says Walsh. “Hopefully another partnership will come along that will be even better.”
Between 1988 and 2000, only Australia have won more Test matches than the West Indies. Their win-loss ratio was also second-best until the end of 1995, when the standard of the team around them began to decline.
Some of the data was collected by Betway’s Sportsbook.