Lambert eyes American dream
March 4, 2004
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Clayton Lambert is uncompromising as he sets out the targets for the US side in the ICC Six Nations Challenge.
"We're here to win," he says.
"If we want cricket to develop in the US the biggest jump-start we can get is putting in a good performance in this competition.
"We've been privileged to be in the six playing here and we need to make the best use of that."
Targeted as a development area, and with World Cup games on the horizon in 2007, the US received a special invitation to the tournament in the United Arab Emirates for sides a step below Test level.
Former West Indies batsman Lambert, now 42, is a wise head in a young American side with high hopes.
I'm just another guy in the street in Atlanta and it's nice to live a quiet life
On offer to the winner of this tournament is a place with the big boys in next September's ICC Champions Trophy in England.
The US made a strong start to the tournament, beating Namibia by five wickets on Saturday.
But poor bowling was to blame for a five-wicket reverse at the hands of United Arab Emirates the following day.
Lambert was to the fore with half-centuries in both.
"We have a lot of flamboyant players, a lot of stroke-makers. If we struggle a bit it might be in the bowling department," he told BBC Sport.
With TV coverage in the States limited, Lambert has seen little of his opponents before.
But he has his eye on Scotland, who have drafted in two county veterans in Gavin Hamilton and Dougie Brown.
"Along the way in this competition it's the experience that will count," he explains.
"There are a lot of part-time cricketers and people can do foolish things along the way so if you have a bit of experience that's going to work."
Lambert built his own experience as a Test player in two spells in the 1990s.
England fans will remember his two career highlights: a Test century in Antigua in 1998 that set up a 3-1 series victory and a rapid 119 in the one-day series that followed.
"I thought I batted better in the one-day game but there's nothing to match a Test match hundred," he says.
The Guyanese is unimpressed by the suggestion he was too aggressive as a batsman, arguing instead that his best years came while West Indies were still strong.
When it came time to rebuild in the early 1990s he was seen as part of the old guard.
"They felt they wanted to go for young blood so I suffered," he explains.
"Even though I was 29 at the time I was around long enough for people to think of me as old."
Medium-pacer Lambert's only Test wicket was a young Mark Ramprakash in the Oval Test of 1991, with the scores level.
New batsman Ian Botham hit him for four next ball to clinch a five-wicket win that tied the series.
His last appearance for West Indies came on a controversy-riddled tour of South Africa in 1998/99 but by then he was already a US resident.
As the Caribbean selectors stopped calling he settled in Atlanta, where he has built a career as an interior designer, in between weekend cricket.
"I'm just another guy in the street in Atlanta and it's nice to live a quiet life," he says.
However, he clearly hopes cricket will offer him a future again, perhaps as a coach as the game develops in the US.
"Cricket is very young in America and this is a stepping stone," he says.
"I'm hoping that even if I don't perform as well as I would like to my contribution will be trying to help to bring the guys along.
"That would give me more pleasure than going out and getting a hundred." (BBC)