When Walsh and Ambrose shot out Scotland for 68

Curtly Ambrose (L) and Courtney Walsh bowled together, the most devastating spell of 15 overs in a limited-overs match in the ICC World Cup 1999 © Getty Images

On May 27, 1999, Scotland and West Indies played out one of the most one-sided matches in the history of the game during the 1999 World Cup in England when the Courtney Walsh & Curtly Ambrose show tormented the Scotsmen to bundle them out for just 68. Prakash Govindasreenivasan recounts the brutality faced by the World Cup debutants.

It was a match to forget for the George Salmond-led Scotland. Their first tryst with the cricket World Cup did not go well. It was only five years since they were elected to associate membership of the International Cricket Council (ICC) in 1994, having ended its ties with England a couple of years earlier. It was remarkable for them to make it to a major tournament. However, against the bigger sides they were often left battered and bruised. The game against the West Indies was one such event.

West Indies were the clear favourites but did not let complacency creep in. The scars of their shocking defeat to minnows Kenya in the 1996 edition of the tournament were still fresh. On this day, however, the duo of Curtly Ambrose and Courtney Walsh displayed their sheer brilliance with the ball to knock Scotland out of the fixture from the outset.

The Start

The only thing that went Scotland’s way on that day was the toss. Salmond won it and elected to bat first. Phil Simmons started the proceedings for the Windies. Simmons was a fan favourite at Grace Road in Leicester, where he put on a stellar all-round performance in 1996 to take Leicestershire to the County Championship.

The Scottish openers were having a rather nervy and cautious start and Simmons ended their misery in the sixth over when he removed Mike Smith who edged a straightforward delivery to Ridley Jacobs behind the stumps. Smith managed just one run from 23 deliveries. From six for one in six overs, Scotland limped to 18 in the 15th over when Ambrose bowled a delivery outside off-stump and Mike Allingham nicked it to Jacobs. The big West Indian wicketkeeper took his third catch of the game in the next over to give Walsh his first wicket. Scotland were struggling at 20 for three in the 16th over.

This was just the start.

The Walsh-Ambrose show

Just three deliveries after Walsh had sent back Ian Stanger, Ambrose came back for his second wicket. This time, the big wicket of the skipper Salmond who gave Jacobs his fourth catch of the game. The next five overs saw the minnows put everything on the line to not throw away a wicket. They picked up five runs in the process but Hendy Bryan got rid of debutant Greig Williamson to have half the Scotland side back in the hut with just 25 runs on the board. The very next over, Walsh struck twice in three deliveries to reduce the minnows to 29 for seven.

At this point, Scotland ran the risk of beating Canada for the lowest total in a World Cup — 45 against England in Manchester in the 1979 edition.

Gavin Hamilton, who had top-scored for Scotland in the previous three games found himself in a precarious position. He came in at the fall of the third wicket and was a part of a familiar script where he would run out of partners at the other end. He found a little support in footballer-turned-cricketer John Blain and the Lahore-born Asim Butt, adding 18 and 20 runs for the eighth and ninth wicket respectively.

However, Bryan picked up his second wicket of the match and Reon King wiped out the tail to skittle out Scotland for 68 in the 31st over, with Hamilton the only batsmen to reach double figures, unbeaten on 24. Ambrose finished with an astonishing economy rate of 0.80 after giving away just eight runs in his quota of 10 overs after picking up two wickets. Walsh, was slightly more ‘expensive’, giving seven runs from seven overs for his three wickets. That had to be the most devastating spell of 15 overs the world of cricket had ever seen.

The Scottish bowlers managed to pick two wickets, but Shivnarine Chanderpaul (30 not out) and Brian Lara (25 not out) took the team home in the 11th over.

It was a sound thrashing for the minnows from which they never quite recovered, as they finished the campaign without a victory.

Brief scores:

Scotland 68 in 30.1 overs (Gavin Hamilton 24*; Ambrose 2 for 8, Walsh 3 for 7) lost to West Indies 70 for 2 in 10.1 overs (Shivnarine Chanderpaul 30*, Brian Lara 25*) by 8 wickets.

(Prakash Govindasreenivasan is an Editorial consultant at CricketCountry and a sports fanatic, with a soft corner for cricket. After studying journalism for two years, came the first big high in his professional life – the opportunity to interview his hero Adam Gilchrist and talking about his magnificent 149 in the 2007 World Cup final. While not following cricket, he is busy rooting for Chelsea FC)