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Sir Vivian Richards

Sir Vivian Richards

With just a cap on and cudding his gum, he would slowly walk into the crease accompanied by huge cheers from the crowd, who demanded nothing sort of entertainment from him. The man who gave “swagger” a new meaning in cricket, Sir Vivian Richards was the most destructive batsman of his era.

When he uses to bat in his full flow, the poor bowlers from across the globe were reduced to mere bowling machines. Aggressive batting was not very common in that era, but the term aggression is an understatement when it comes to describing Richards’ batting. Devastating would be a better term. Occasionally he was venerable early on if his desire to dominate overwhelmed him.

Born on March 7, 1952, to Malcolm and Gretel Richards in St. John’s, Antigua, Richards made his first-class debut in January 1972 when he was just 19. Richards made his Test match debut for the West Indies cricket team in 1974 against India in Bangalore, and scored an unbeaten 192 in his very second game.

In 1975 Richards played a key role and helped the West Indies to win the inaugural Cricket World Cup final, a feat he later described as the most memorable of his career. A year later, in 1976, he scored 1710 runs at an average of 90.00 with seven centuries from 11 Tests. It remained the world record for most Test runs by a batsman in a single calendar year for 30 years, until it was broken by Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan in 2006. Richards was also part of the World Cup winning West Indies side of 1979, and even scored a century in final to help his side to the title.

His strengths were on the front foot. Rocking back from his front-foot line from where he would flick bowlers relentlessly through midwicket, or he might send the similar ball skimming through extra cover. His power was awesome, he hooked devastatingly and never wore a helmet, and he is often regarded as the most physically devastating and exciting batsman that ever played the game by cricketers, journalists and fans.

Vivian Richards is often associated with his destructive batting style, but not many remember him as one of the best captains of West Indies. He captained the West Indies in 50 Test matches from 1984 to 1991. As a captain he won 27 of 50 Test matches and lost only 8. He is the only West Indies captain never to lose a Test Series.

In his Test career, he scored 8,540 runs in 121 Test matches at an average of 50.23, which includes 24 centuries and 45 half-centuries. He also scored 6,721 runs in One Day Internationals at a strike rate of 90+, which was not too easy in those days.

Richards had a long and successful career in the County Championship in England. He is one of the four non English batsmen to make 100 first class centuries.

Richards was chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for 1977. In 1994, Richards was appointed as Officer of the Order of the British Empire for his immense service to cricket. Richards was named as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century in 2000, by 100-member panel of experts.

Richards also played international football for Antigua, having represented them in the qualifying matches for the 1974 World Cup. He is a strong supporter of Liverpool FC in English Football’s Premier League.