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‘Sheer desperation’: Dean Jones reveals motivation behind ill-fated Ambrose wristband request

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

Dean Jones opened up on his thinking behind asking Curtly Ambrose to remove his white wristbands in a ’93 ODI at the Sydney Cricket Ground in an exclusive interview with Wisden Cricket Monthly.

The move backfired spectacularly as the fired-up West Indian tore through Australia. The incident occurred in the first of two finals to decide a tri-series, also involving Pakistan. Chasing 240 to win, Jones walked in at No.3 with Ambrose having taken the first wicket to fall, and soon sparked a furious reaction from the towering quick when he requested, via the umpire, that he remove his white wristbands while bowling with the white new ball.

Ambrose went on to claim 5-32 as West Indies claimed a 25-run win. “In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have told Curtly Ambrose to remove his white wristband,” said Jones in WCM’s regular feature ‘A Cricket Life’.

Jones was faced with the dual problems of battling injury and holding off competition for his place. He played despite having fractured a digit in the previous game of the series, and with an injection having made him lose feeling in his hand.

“Wasim Akram had broken my thumb four days earlier and I had to get it pinned,” he said. “Back then, if you were out with injury, you didn’t get paid for the matches that you missed and I also had Damien Martyn snapping at my heels to get into the team. So I couldn’t afford to miss the match and had an injection before the game, which I should never have done as I couldn’t feel my hand. I realised I was in a lot of trouble as soon as I had the injection, just before I went out to bat.”

Jones revealed that his motivation was to anger Ambrose, but hoped it would have the opposite effect, and prompt him to “lose control”. “I thought the only way I was going to get around it was to rile Curtly up, so he’d get a little too worked up and lose his control. I could use his pace to my advantage and cut and hook him and ramp him down to third man. Well, he didn’t lose control; instead he got five guys out, then 10 in the next Test at Adelaide and nine in the following match at the WACA.

“It was done through sheer desperation. I felt I had to do anything to keep my spot. It’s funny now but it wasn’t back then. I was trying to save my career and people forget that. I was thinking that if Damien Martyn comes into the team and makes 50 or so, then I’m never going to get picked again. Facing four of the fastest bowlers in history with a busted thumb that had been operated on just four days earlier was definitely not funny.”

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