Wellington: Legendary West Indies paceman Curtly Ambrose said on Thursday that one-day cricket’s rules favoured batsmen so much that teams might as well use bowling machines to send down deliveries.
With the quarter-finals barely begun, there have been 32 centuries at this year’s World Cup, compared to 24 for the entire tournament in 2011.
Ambrose, who took 225 ODI and 405 Test wickets for the West Indies, said the rules were undermining the contest between bat and ball that was fundamental to cricket’s DNA.
“It’s too one-sided an the powers-that-be need to look at this seriously and make it a little more even, because at the moment it’s all about batting,” he told reporters in Wellington ahead of Saturday’s New Zealand-West Indies quarter-final.
“The bowlers, they can’t play cricket. Soon they might have to get in bowling machines.”
He said a free hit when there was a no-ball and the batting powerplay meant bowlers could not build pressure to strangle an innings.
“Everything favours the batsman,” he said. “A bowler trains hard to do the best for his team, oversteps the front mark and there’s a free hit, the powerplays and all that stuff – I’m totally not for it.
“I believe as a bowler, if you bowl well enough, you can keep it real tight and they can’t score. (But now) all of sudden they’re taking the powerplay and the field moves around so they can score runs.”
Ambrose, who was part of the most intimidating pace attack in cricket history, also took aim at sledgers, saying verbally taunting opponents had no place in the game.
The Antiguan, who stands at two metres (six foot seven) and could silence most foes with a menacing glare, said he never found it necessary to sledge.
“I don’t believe in it, I don’t think that sledging is a part of the cricket,” he said.
“If you’re a good enough player, you should let the bat or the ball do the talking for you.”
Ambrose, who is serving as the West Indies bowling coach at this year’s tournament, conceded his side were underdogs against New Zealand but backed their chances of an upset.
“We’ve got some dangerous players as well, it just depends what happens on the day,” the 51-year old said.
“If we make a good start, blunt their attack early and play to our potential, I believe we have every chance of beating them.”
Ambrose said co-hosts New Zealand had to meet home fans’ expectations that they will take their excellent group stage form into the knockout rounds.
“That extra pressure could take a toll if they are not strong enough mentally,” he said.
“We’re not under pressure. According to cricket pundits we don’t stand a chance, so we’re going to go out there and enjoy our cricket and play to win.”