A batsman like none other. A batting style so elegant, yet destructive. He single-handedly made bowlers across the world bow down at his feet. Yet, what he did was just remain calm, chewed his gum, and smashed the bowlers all over the park. The legend is none other than Sir Vivian Richards.
He is the reason why we are seeing 350+ scores in ODIs so frequently. He is the idol for players like Sehwag and Gilchrist, who tried to copy his batting style, and although managed to find a place in history, they couldn’t even come close to what he used to be.
People say that true legends are batsmen like Gavaskar, who remained true to the traditional form of the game, without being wavered by the then newly introduced shortest form of the game. However great he might be, no one can erase the embarrassment of scoring just 36 runs of 174 balls. Even he openly admitted to have taken that match as a practice match, considering the mammoth target as unachievable. But whatever his approach might have been, there was no blaming Gavaskar. His mentality was shared by more than 70% of the players during that time.
But at the same time, there was this batsman from West Indies who played his entire career without a helmet, but rather nearly terrified the bowlers into wearing one.
“Bowl a length ball, I will dispatch it to the boundary. Bowl a short ball, I will hook it over the ropes. Bowl a yorker, the result would be the same”.
Such was the attitude of the West Indian great while he used to bat. Yes, he was playing in the greatest cricket team ever. Yet his ability to demoralise the opposition team with destructive batting was unmatchable.
No one can forget his innings of 189 against England, wherein he single-handedly took his team to a very good score of 280 odd runs. Such was his match-winning impact .
He might be remembered as one of the greatest ODI batsmen, but no one can deny that he was a great Test batsman too. Scoring 8,540 runs, that too at a healthy average of 50, is no mean achievement. Obviously, thanks to his destructive batting style, he holds the record of scoring the fastest Test century ever, which he achieved while facing only 56 balls. Only Gilchrist managed to even come close to breaking the record. Such was the impact of one player in the era of so many defensive players that the way batsman batted thereafter changed forever. Even Sachin Tendulkar is said to have modelled his batting on the the legend’s technique.
An aggressive captain, he never lost a Test series under his captaincy. Another feather in his cap.
For a batsman who dominated bowlers like none other, his career came to a tame end, thanks to a string of bad performances. Many cited that his ageing body was unable to handle his aggressive style of play. But by the time of his retirement, his name was already in the book of legends.
Sir Vivian Richards – 17 years, close to 15,000 runs, 150 wickets. Legend.