Ambrose seeking to fire-up underdogs WI
HOBART, Australia (CMC):
Fast-bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose is seeking to fire up underdogs West Indies who face top-ranked Australia in the first of three Test matches from this evening (Caribbean time).
Ambrose, the bowling consultant, is insisting that the West Indies have the manpower to challenge the home side in the three-match rubber following their humiliating 10-wicket loss to an inexperienced Cricket Australia X1.
Australia defeated West Indies 2-0 in their last series played in the Caribbean earlier this year.
"Even though we lost 2-0, there were moments or periods when we had them on the back foot and had their backs against the wall. And we never really finished them off," recalled Ambrose.
"So we believe we can compete, and not only compete, but we believe we can beat them, and that's our focus: to beat Australia. Not just to compete but to win and, being the underdogs, sometimes it's good to be that way."
The Caribbean side was able to avoid an innings defeat against the young Cricket Australia's X1 on the strength of a stubborn partnership between Jason Holder and Kemar Roach.
But their defeat has forced former players and commentators to question their confidence going into the opening Test at Hobart.
However, the former fast bowler is insisting that given the expectation of the Australian public, the home side is the one under pressure to perform.
"We have nothing to lose. As far as we are concerned, Australia is the one under pressure. They have to beat us because Australians expect them to steamroll us. So they are the ones under pressure, not us," he said.
"We're here to do a job and we're going to make a good job of it. We're not going to worry about what has been said about us not being a good team or not going to compete and games being over in three days and all that kind of stuff."
Jason Holder's men arrived in Australia not having won an overseas tour of note in 20 years and are ranked above only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.
Ambrose has described in-form batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner as the main threat in the Australian batting line-up, but contends that their middle order is vulnerable.
"They are in some good form at the moment, and there are two good batsmen and, yes, they will be key. If we can get them out early for not too many runs, I still believe that the middle order of Australia is not that solid at the moment," Ambrose pointed out.
"I think Warner and Smith will be key, and once we get them out early, that could give us some leeway to really test them."
Ambrose has identified the bowling attack as the Windies' strength and expressed confidence in Jerome Taylor's ability to lead an attack capable of taking 20 Australian wickets.
"Since I joined the team, it took me a little while to get them to buy into my concept because they are accustomed to certain things and, of course, it would not change overnight," said Ambrose, who took up his consultancy role in February 2014.
The first Test will be played at the Blundstone Arena, from Thursday to Monday. First ball is 10:30 a.m. (Wednesday 6:30 p.m. Jamaica time).