The ninth instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media.
West Indies were once a force to be reckoned with, the Calypso batting swagger perfectly complementing a laconic yet menacing bowling unit. Today, we look back at an iconic pair who – one could say – were their last Mohicans.
Curtly Ambrose vs Courtney Walsh
A comparison of pace bowlers in Test cricket
|Number of Tests||98||132||Courtney Walsh (132)|
|Wickets Taken||405||519||Glenn McGrath (563)|
|Bowling Average||20.99||24.44||Malcolm Marshall (20.94)|
|Percentage of team wickets taken||26%||25%||Richard Hadlee (38.25)|
|Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests)||68||51||Craig McDermott|
|Impact Away (min. 20 Tests)||64||49||Dennis Lillee|
|Impact in Subcontinent (min. 10 Tests)||54||100||Courtney Walsh|
|Impact in Aus/SA (min. 10 Tests)||79||31||Alan Davidson|
|Impact in Eng/NZ (min. 10 Tests)||45||36||Dennis Lillee|
|Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests)||26%||22%||Joel Garner (12%)|
||3 (once every 33 Tests)||2 (once every 66 Tests)||Richard Hadlee and Dale Steyn (7)|
|Number of high impact performances||26 (once every 4 Tests)||17 (once every 8 Tests)||Glenn McGrath (32)|
|Most dominant period in career||June 1991 – April 1994||November 1998 – August 2000||n/a|
|Number of years as highest impact bowler||0||0||Richard Hadlee – 4
(1980, 1984, 1985, 1987)
|Highest impact bowler in a match||20||18||Glenn McGrath
(31 in 124 Tests)
|Highest impact bowler in a series||5 (in 25 Test series)||4 (in 35 Test series)||Richard Hadlee
(10 in 33 Test series)
1) All parameters from ‘
Example: Glenn McGrath has the highest
2) From ‘Bowling Average’ till ‘
3) Only pace bowlers have been considered for this comparison.
Curtly Ambrose trails Courtney Walsh by 114 wickets, and yet his impact is almost 23% higher. Ambrose remains the third-highest impact bowler in West Indies’ Test history (after Malcolm Marshall and Michael Holding; min. 50 Tests). Walsh comes in at number six.
While Ambrose is superior in almost all key parameters, his effectiveness in wins and in away Tests – especially those played in Australia and South Africa – stand out.
Ambrose was extremely restrictive too. As it turns out, he has the second-highest
Walsh, however, was more consistent and he had a much higher impact than Ambrose in the subcontinent. In fact, both his
Courtney Walsh finished his career with more wickets, but it was Curtly Ambrose who claimed more scalps when they were both part of the starting XI. Together, the pair featured in 95 Test matches and accounted for 762 victims – Ambrose alone dismissed 389. West Indies won 42 of those Tests and drew 28, and it was again that man Ambrose who took the greater share of spoils – 295 of the 550 dismissals. No wonder he was higher impact, while a ‘workhorse’ attitude became Walsh’s legacy.
Illustrations: Vasim Maner