Sir Viv Richards – The Most Fearsome Master Blaster
West Indies Sir Viv Richards fell into the same category as Chappell another player who has always wanted to be the master of bowlers. I don’t think lies are as technically sound as Chappell was, but there’s not a bowler in the world who can quell Richards when he’s on fire at the crease. He doesn’t just try to dominate the bowler in the obvious way of putting the ball away to the boundary. He also intimidates them with the way he carries himself physically, using body language to show that’s in charge.
He’ll eyeball bowlers arrogantly, often looking disdainfully down his nose at his opponents. He’s like a fighter waiting for the next round of a bout. He might pummel the top of his bat handle or adjust his ever-present maroon West Indian cap, all little signs he is today and itching to demonstrate his talents. A player of enormous confidence, he never wears a helmet; perhaps he wants to accept the challenges of the short-pitched ball from the fast bowler! That’s his style.
Even early in his innings, he likes charging fast bowlers, looking to hit them back over their heads for four or six, or he’ll innovate by backing away to square leg and positively smashing the ball through the off side. Sir Viv Richards wonderful player off his legs, he effortlessly puts quick bowlers away to the fence or over it anywhere between backward square and mid-wicket, relying greatly on his wonderful eye.
His weakness is the ball marginally outside off stump and nipping away; he still looks to hit those deliveries through the on-side, wandering across his stumps and maybe nicking to the ‘keeper or slips. But it can be so humiliating bowling to him when he’s in the mood to rip an attack apart in an hour or even less. He’s done it so many times, you lose count. There was his astounding 189 not out in a one-day international against England in 1984, or his 56-ball hundred against England on his home ground in Antigua in 1986, the fastest in test history.
Of course, he was a significant absentee when we beat the West Indies in 1979-80 but he profited against us in the West Indies in 1984-85. He wasn’t anywhere near as successful in New Zealand in 1986-87, becoming yet another of the world’s great batsmen who have failed on our pitches (Gary Sobers, Zaheer Abbas, and Sunil Gavaskar among those who have struggled in New Zealand).
In fact, Sir Viv Richards scored only 77 runs at 19.20 in four test innings; after opening the tour with a 28-ball 54 not out in a one-dayer against Auckland he had test scores of 24 (28 balls), 14 (10 balls) and one going into his last knock of the series. Again there was no semblance of patience or any intention to build innings, even though the team was in dreadful shape. He simply took to me, carving boundaries out until I vi as taken out of the attack — but he eventually self-destructed for 38 off 37 balls (and West Indies was decisively beaten).
That was a cameo of Viv Richards display exemplifying his approach when confronted by a bowler who represented a threat. Sir Viv Richards batting against Richard Hadlee those were the sort of confrontations he enjoyed. The same thing happened in a Sunday, league match in Bath in 1986.
Somerset was coasting along with Richards on about 30 when Clive Rice brought me back on to try and take a wicket, or to slow down the run rate. I achieved neither in the first over as Richards played some big shots to take 12 runs, but I soon bowled him. Somerset lost its last five wickets cheaply and Nottinghamshire won the match. Sir Viv Richards hadn’t shown responsibility and it was that kind of performance that highlighted Somerset’s decision to sack him and Joel Garner after the 1986 season.
There’s no question about his entertainment value, though, or his ability to murder sides on his day. Take the one-day international in Dunedin in 1986-87 when he hit 119 off 113 balls and then did us with the ball as well, taking five wickets. There isn’t a more dangerous or destructive batsman in world cricket.
David Lloyd, the former England batsman, tells a story about Richards playing against Glamorgan and having some trouble getting the bat on the ball to fast bowler Greg Thomas. He kept playing and missing and Thomas said: “Viv, it’s red, and it’s round.” That tickled Richards up just a little, so he thumped Thomas’s next delivery back over his head and into a pond for six. Richards told Thomas: “You know what it looks like, man, you go fetch it.”
What Sir Viv Richards has more than any other of his adversaries is the ability to excite, entertain and still be prolific I mean, the man has topped 7000 test runs at an impressive average well above 50.00 after more than 100 tests And he has also scored more than 6000 runs at 50-plus in one-day internationals. Therefore, all of this is simply staggering. People will travel almost anywhere to watch the ‘Master Blaster‘ just to see him bat, and that alone is value for money.