After the heart-stopping one-run victory in Adelaide, the touring West Indians moved to Perth to play the fifth and the final test match of a riveting series. Australia and West Indies have played many memorable series, nothing more than the famed 1960-61 series in Australia which saw test cricket’s first tied match.
This 1993 series was almost at par with the intensity and quality of cricket. Allan Border was developing an Australian test unit that would become the best in the generation in a few years to come and West Indies was trying to hold to their past glory without key players like Viv Richards, Malcolm Marshall, and Gordon Greenidge. With the series stood at 1-1, everything was at stake in this fifth test in WACA.
Perth is considered to be one of the fastest pitches in the world and in those days it was considered to be even quicker. Still, on 30th January 1993, Border showed trust on his batsmen and elected to bat after winning the toss to take the early initiatives.
The Australian batting till lunch somewhat justified his choice. For Australia experienced David Boon opened with the young Justin Langer. Ian Bishop provided the early damage and got hold of young Langer and number three Steve Waugh. However Boon was solid in the other end and Australia went to lunch at 85 for 2 with the match evenly balanced.
The magic started after lunch, the magic of Curtly Ambrose. In a Perth pitch with very good bounce and carry he became lethal in his spell after lunch. One perfect delivery to Mark Waugh just outside his off stump induced the edge for Ambrose’ first wicket. Boon who reached to 44 was next to go. The ball bounced from a good length and took the shoulder of the bat; a very good catch was taken by West Indian captain Richie Richardson. The border was the next man in, who got a nasty delivery first up and had no other option than nicking it to the wicketkeeper Junior Murray for a first-ball duck.
Australians were suddenly 90 for 5 losing 3 wickets for five runs post lunch. The next man was Ian Healy who bagged a pair in the last test in Adelaide. Although he saved the hat trick but was gone in Ambrose’ next over with his third consecutive duck when he pushed at a delivery just outside off to give a simple catch to Brian Lara in the slips. The big Merv Hughes was the next man in and although he was expected to provide support to Damien Martyn in the other end he instead tried to play a big shot and was duly caught by Keith Arthurton of Ambrose. This was Ambrose’ fifth wicket of the innings and Australia were 102 for 7. Even Australia’s final hopes were gone when Martyn pushed to another fastball in the channel just outside off stump to Phil Simmons. For the debutant Jo Angel, this was something out of his league and in the fourth ball he faced, he hung his bat away to give a catch to the keeper. This was Ambrose’ 7th wicket in that spell in 32 balls costing only 1 run. This 7 for 1 is considered to be one of the greatest examples of fast bowling and displayed all the skill, accuracy and venom for Ambrose.
Australia could only reach 119 and the result of the match and series was pretty much sealed. West Indies replied with 322 driven by a couple of the fifties from Simmons and Arthurton. Australia did not perform much better in the second innings either. Only Boon held his fort and scored 52. Border got another duck to register his first pair in his 138th test match. This time, Bishop was the destroyer in chief as he picked up 6 wickets for 60 runs. Ambrose took two more and the match was over five minutes before the lunch on day three to give West Indies a test win by innings and 25 runs and along with that, the series win by the 2-1 scoreline.
WACA in Perth has seen many great fast bowling performances, especially being the home ground for Australian legend Dennis Lillee but that display of pace and accuracy from Ambrose on that day was in a different plane and remained one of the most memorable in the history of the game.