HOBART, Australia (CMC):Fast-bowling legend Sir Curtly Ambrose is seeking to fire up underdogs West Indies who face top-ranked Australia in the first of three Test matches from this evening (Caribbean time).Ambrose, the bowling consultant, is insisting that the West Indies have the manpower to challenge the home side in the three-match rubber following their humiliating 10-wicket loss to an inexperienced Cricket Australia X1.Australia defeated West Indies 2-0 in their last series played in the Caribbean earlier this year.”Even though we lost 2-0, there were moments or periods when we had them on the back foot and had their backs against the wall. And we never really finished them off,” recalled Ambrose.”So we believe we can compete, and not only compete, but we believe we can beat them, and that’s our focus: to beat Australia. Not just to compete but to win and, being the underdogs, sometimes it’s good to be that way.”The Caribbean side was able to avoid an innings defeat against the young Cricket Australia’s X1 on the strength of a stubborn partnership between Jason Holder and Kemar Roach.But their defeat has forced former players and commentators to question their confidence going into the opening Test at Hobart.However, the former fast bowler is insisting that given the expectation of the Australian public, the home side is the one under pressure to perform.”We have nothing to lose. As far as we are concerned, Australia is the one under pressure. They have to beat us because Australians expect them to steamroll us. So they are the ones under pressure, not us,” he said.”We’re here to do a job and we’re going to make a good job of it. We’re not going to worry about what has been said about us not being a good team or not going to compete and games being over in three days and all that kind of stuff.”Jason Holder’s men arrived in Australia not having won an overseas tour of note in 20 years and are ranked above only Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.Ambrose has described in-form batsmen Steve Smith and David Warner as the main threat in the Australian batting line-up, but contends that their middle order is vulnerable.”They are in some good form at the moment, and there are two good batsmen and, yes, they will be key. If we can get them out early for not too many runs, I still believe that the middle order of Australia is not that solid at the moment,” Ambrose pointed out.”I think Warner and Smith will be key, and once we get them out early, that could give us some leeway to really test them.”Ambrose has identified the bowling attack as the Windies’ strength and expressed confidence in Jerome Taylor’s ability to lead an attack capable of taking 20 Australian wickets.”Since I joined the team, it took me a little while to get them to buy into my concept because they are accustomed to certain things and, of course, it would not change overnight,” said Ambrose, who took up his consultancy role in February 2014.The first Test will be played at the Blundstone Arena, from Thursday to Monday. First ball is 10:30 a.m. (Wednesday 6:30 p.m. Jamaica time).
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Hybrid vehicles and alternative fuels are all the rage, but it can be safely said that when it comes to energy fashion, oil is still the new black. Purveyors of this much sought-after couture largely assemble in the design house of OPEC. And they’re previewing next season’s collections at prices that should continue to bring in sweet crude revenues – June statistics from the Department of Energy predicted a $430 billion annual haul for the petroleum-exporting countries, a 27 percent hike from 2004. Unfortunately, our style is cramped by the “oil is evil” hue and cry, sung even as we all crank $50 worth of unleaded into our cars. We consume more than 20 million barrels per day, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. We produce about 7.7 million barrels per day. To bridge the gap, the top five we buy from are Canada, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Venezuela and Nigeria. Three are OPEC members. And Venezuela is under the iron grip of invasion-paranoid Hugo Chavez, who just pulled South America into an oil agreement intended to lock out the U.S.-backed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas. (As a matter of sheer principle, I’d rather push my car than pump at Venezuelan-owned Citgo.) Many politicians have cited disruption in the U.S. oil supply brought by hurricanes Katrina and Rita as reason to increase our reach into proven petroleum reserves, launch exploration in unproven reserves and build more refineries – or at least spread our oil industry beyond the storm-whipped Gulf of Mexico. We’ve had reason for years, though, to get our heads out of the well and kick-start a new era of petroleum independence. Legislation moving through Congress, brought by House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, would end the offshore drilling moratorium and shift control over drilling leases within 125 miles of shore from Congress to the states. According to Oil and Gas Journal, the United States’ 21.9 billion barrels of proved oil reserves put it at 11th highest in the world. California has the fourth-largest reserves in the nation, behind Texas, Louisiana and Alaska. And unproven reserves hold great potential. According to the Minerals Management Service of the Department of the Interior, the Pacific Outer Continental Shelf region’s unproved reserves have an estimated 1.3 billion barrels of oil in 25 fields. Pombo’s legislation is predictably decried by environmental groups and the NOMBs – Not Off My Beach. “Oil exploration threatens not only our environment, but also our coastal economy and multibillion dollar tourism industry,” Controller Steve Westly said in a June press release. Consider, though, the top producing oil fields in District No. 1 – encompassing most of Southern California – of the state’s Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources: Wilmington, Inglewood, Huntington Beach, Long Beach and Beverly Hills. A few tourist areas in the list that aren’t doing too shabby despite platforms and pumpjacks. Environmentalists have a knack for painting pro-drilling citizens and legislators as miscreants who would just as soon dump a quart of Penzoil on a shorebird’s head. Instead, it’s a reasoned cost-benefit analysis. Technological advancements make drilling safer, including directional drilling that can reach from shore to underwater. And more than 1,200 inspections were carried out on Pacific OCS facilities – with 23 oil and gas platforms in the region – by the Minerals Management Service in 2004, not to mention state inspections and constant regulation. Gray Davis in 2002 called offshore exploration “attempts to exploit California’s coastal resources.” Using our oil is not exploitation, but tapping the energy that Mother Nature has graciously socked away for us. Though billions have been spent thus far on alternative fuel research, nothing has been developed yet to replace petroleum. Experts predict it will be decades upon decades before we’re weaned off oil. And in that time, global demand is projected to skyrocket, fueled by growing economies in countries such as China and India. We continue to be held hostage by crunches that occur with every geopolitical hiccup from war to storms to Venezuela’s Hurricane Hugo and his $100-a-barrel threats. Enough. Let’s drill. Because when it comes to energy, I’ll take my basic black made in America. Bridget Johnson writes for the Daily News. E-mail her at [email protected]