Viv Richards did not walk when he was out early at Delhi in 1974
It did not help that when he was 12, Viv Richards was caught by Farokh Engineer behind the stumps off Venkat himself, but umpire M.V. Gothoskar turned down the appeal. Years later, the umpire would reflect in his autobiography, The Burning Finger, that it was an incorrect decision. In an interview many years later with the Times of India, Venkat would also reflect on that decision: ‘I don’t know what would have happened had he given Viv Richards out then. We might have won the test match.
My captaincy was also at stake.’ If they played cricket in the right spirit, the West Indies cricketers and fans expected nothing less in return. Malcom Marshall never forgave Dilip Vengsarkar for some gamesmanship that the latter had indulged in—this was way before I debuted for India—but on that tour, I got a first-hand experience of the righteous way they expected their opponents to play. Coming into Jamaica, Richards had surprisingly scored only 25 runs in three Tests, even as others plundered us.
In the final Test, though, he struck form and scored a masterful century. But the great champion that Viv Richards was, he was not satisfied with just a hundred; we could see he was determined to make this a big one. We heard two sounds. In domestic cricket, we used to appeal not only when we thought the batsman was out but also when we thought the umpire was likely to raise his finger. When we heard those two sounds, our cheeky wicketkeeper, Kiran More, went up in appeal. So did the rest of us, even though we knew no bat was involved. Some people call it cheating or gamesmanship, but we were about to learn it was simply not acceptable when playing in the West Indies.
The umpire raised the finger, and Viv Richards could not believe his reaction was like a child’s. He was not upset that the umpire had made a mistake; he just couldn’t believe someone had indeed appealed when there had been no bat involved. His problem was More, not the umpire, David Archer. He stood his ground for a while, stomped the surface, and then dragged himself off, all the while glaring at More.