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ODI GOAT: Vaas v Ambrose

24 April 2016

Adam Burnett & Sam Ferris


Adam Burnett & Sam Ferris


A menacing West Indian and a super-reliable Sri Lankan clash in our round of 32

The #ODIGOAT is cricket.com.au's knockout competition to determine the greatest ODI player of all time. We started with our top 64 ODI players and now we're asking YOU to do the hard work – that is, narrow it down to one. Set up in much the same way as a tennis tournament, each day you'll see head-to-head match-ups, with the winner of those progressing to the next round to square off with their next challenger. From 64, we are now into the round of 32. Next it will be 16, 8, 4 and ultimately our final. So cast your VOTE and decide just who is the greatest ODI player in history!


CURTLY AMBROSE (WEST INDIES)

The numbers: Matches: 176 | Wickets: 225 | Average: 23.52 | SR: 41.5 | Economy: 3.48 | BB: 5-17 | 5fa's: 4

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#ODIGOAT Voting: Ambrose took on fellow firebrand Shane Bond and despite the Kiwi's stunning record and fearsome reputation, he was no match for the Antiguan. The Windies quick took 75 per cent of the vote and will be fancied to reach the round of 16. 

Why he makes the list: Few fast bowlers in world cricket have possessed the intimidation factor of Curtly Ambrose. Standing over his foes like an executioner ready to swing the axe, Ambrose was a terrifying prospect for batsman hoping to first survive then, if they could, dare to score. Delivering his thunderbolts from close to 10ft, it was not just the steepling bounce that made him such a difficult opponent, but the accuracy and dexterity to have the ball on a string. His first year, 1988, was his most lethal, taking 28 wickets in only 15 matches at 15. As the years went on the pace and nip slowly started to face, but when the mood struck, he could flick a switch and return to the brilliant best of his youth.

Performance we loved: It's best not to wake a sleeping lion, but that's what Dean Jones did when he asked Ambrose to take off his white wristbands at the SCG in 1993. Jones thought Ambrose was "trying some sort of camouflage". The six-foot-seven West Indian didn’t see it that way, and was outraged.  Ambrose roared to life, destroying the Australians with 5-32, and was particularly savage to Jones, going more after the batsman than his wicket. The towering failed to dismiss his man, but his ferocious spell inspired the Windies to a 25-run win. Nobody ever asked Ambrose to remove his wristbands again. 

CHAMINDA VAAS (SRI LANKA)

The numbers: Matches: 322 | Wickets: 400 | Average: 27.53 | SR: 39.4 | Economy: 4.18 | BB: 8-19 | 5w: 4

Chaminda Vaas took an astonishing 400 ODI wickets // Getty

#ODIGOAT Voting: Vaas squared off with compatriot and former teammate Lasith Malinga in his first-round challenge, emerging triumphant with 60 per cent of the vote. He'll have his work cut out to stop Ambrose reaching the round of 16. 

Why he makes the list: If Lasith Malinga was the fire for Sri Lanka, Chaminda Vaas was the ice. A left-arm swing and seam bowler who relied more on smarts than flat-out pace, Vaas spent 14 years on the ODI scene; only Wasim Akram has played more than his 322 matches among fast bowlers, while he is one of only four to have taken 400 wickets. In that time he became indisputably Sri Lanka's greatest fast bowler, capturing a World Cup title in '96 and appearing in another final in 2007. "We were a team highly dependent on Chaminda Vaas and Murali," Kumar Sangakkara told cricket.com.au recently. "'Vaasy' was so clinical in his execution – to have that amount of precision is unbelievable. Had he played for any other country, he would have reached just unbelievable levels, but on dead, dusty Sri Lankan tracks, for him to have had the career he had, it's phenomenal."

Performance we loved: On one amazing day in Colombo back in December 2001, Vaas had a field day running through a hapless Zimbabwe outfit. Controlling his swing beautifully, the left-armer took a wicket with his first ball, later claimed Sri Lanka's first ODI hat-trick, and went on to become the first bowler to take eight wickets in the format. He finished with 8-19 (Murali spoiled the party with the two final wickets) as Zimbabwe were skittled for 38. Given the calibre of the opposition, it probably wasn't Vaas' most rewarding spell, but statistically, it was unprecedented.  

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