A genius called Sir Vivian Richards

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  1. Harsh Thakor
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    Harsh Thakor Youngsta Beauty

    May 5, 2011
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    For years Viv Richards ruled the cricket world like a Black emperor.He strode on a cricket field like a graeat emperor walking.No batsman ever could change the complexion of a match like Sir Viv.He reminded you of a bomber attacking an airbase .Viv rose to the occassion like no other batsman as though the whole purpose of his existence was to entertain spectators.His meer presence was like seeing thunder on a cricket field.

    In 1976 in England he looked like a re-incarnation of Bradman scoring 1710 runs at an verage of 118.42.I would sya arther than calling him a Black Bradman ,a different type of batting genius was born into the cricket world,with a flair of his very own.The batting may not have had the technical correctness of Len Hutton or Geoff Boycott,the grace of Frank Worrell or Greg Chappell,the prowess of Graeme Pollock or RohanKanhai or the machine-like scoring rate of Sir Don Bradman but no batsmen had ever been more punishing.Weekes and Kanhai may have resmbled the Don more but on this day Richards innovated a unique batting style of his own.

    Wisden Editor Norman Preston wrote,"Mere figures cannot convey hisperfect style and strokeplay.His cover driving was superb and with his feet always in the right position the way he flicked the ball on his leg-stump to square leg had to be seen to be believed!"Not since Walter Hammond was a cricket ball hit harder.That season a fallible genius was born who flirted with the record book and he retained his charasterictic batting style till the end of his career.


    .In the 1979-80 season in Australia,combating Lillee and Thomson he averaged 96.50 in the Frank Worrell trophy ,including a masterly 140 at Brisbane,96 at Melbourne and 76 and 74 compiled in classical style ona fast bouncy Adelaide track which Greg Chapppell rated one of the best Innings he ever saw.In the triangular one day serise he averaged over 85 runs giving the best ever performace by a btasmen in the triangular series in Australia.In England,the following year he averaged 63 in the tset serise where he again re-exhibited his graet batting prowss.scoring abrilliant 145 at Lords and 2 fine fifties. Icannot also forget his 53 runs scored out of 65 from Bob Willis. Later that year Viv averaged 70+in Pakistan in a 4 test series,including a superb hundred at Multan,on a deteriorating track.In ahome sersise agaisnt England he continued to torment the bowlers averaging 85,with 2 centuries including his first at his hometown Antigua.

    After 1981 when he averaged over 85 in a home series against England including a century at Antigua Viv's average progressively declinedViv had a relatively poor serise in Australai in 1981-82 asa result of an -eye operation.He bounced back in the eraly 1980's in some tset series scoring at ana verage of 48 runs in a home serise agaisnt India with a superb 100 at Georgetown and averaging 41 ina tset tour of India with a classic hundred at Mumbai.He scored 149 in a one day game where he tore the bowling to pieces.Againt Australia in 1984 at home in the 4th test he tore the Australain bolwing likea tiger crushing his prey,scoring 178.He was inconsistent for most of the serise averaging 56.On the 1984 tour of England he stated like an Emperor coming to conquer territory with his 189 at OLd Traffoed ina ony match and 117 at Edgbaston in the 1st tst.Then he lost his consistency,averaging under 45 overall.On the 1984-85 Austrlain tour he scored an all -time great double hundred-208 at Melbourne,but was agin inconsistent averaging 41 runs.

    .Often he threw his wicket in full flow and by the mid 1980's his reflexes appeared to have slowed down.Still he played some match-winning Knocks in series at home in 1986(56 ball hundred at Antigua)in India in 1987-88(match-winning hundred at Delhi) and in Australia in 1988-89.(averaged 55_with asuperb century at Brisbane)..He was second best average wise i the1983 world Cup and topped the averages in the1987 Reliance World Cup,including a then World Cup record score of 181against Sri Lanka.After a shaky start he reagained form in the 1983 World Cup making scores of 119,95 not out,80,not out before his premature wicket after scoring a quickfire 33,cost WEst Indies the 1983 World Cup!In 1991 he retired in fitting style after his last serise i England scoring 4 fifties at a50+average,before he retired after the sixth and final tsetin England.After he was dismissed for the last time it was one of Cricket's most emotional moments-Like Julius Caesar relinquishing his crown and bowing before his knights.

    He was made capatain in 1985.He mantained an unbeaten record in a test series leading his team to 2 drawn rubbers against Pakistan,(1986 away and 1988 at home)a drawn series in England,(1991-his last series),a drawn series in New Zealand(1987)home series wins against India,(1990)New Zealand,(1985)England(1986 and 1990) and Australia(1991) and overseas test series wins in England(1988) and Australia.(1988-89).After 4 successive drawn rubbers his leaderhip was instrumental in WEst Indies retaining their world Championship status winning successive series 4-0 in England and 3-1 i Australia.He marshalled his new resources ,especially the fast men like Ambrose and Walsh.He was an astute leader who managed to keep the superiority of WEst Indian cricket intact.

    Viv Richards in 1981 becamethe 2nd overseas batsme to scre a hundred agaisnt every county.He often championed Somerset's cause like his match-winning 117 in the Gillette cup final in 1979 as well as hsi contributions to Somerst winning the John Plyer Leauge.Often in the count games his hitting reminded a an English fan ofWalter Hammond or Gilbert Jessop.

    .No batsmen ever had sharper reflexes.Viv initially moved straight on the front foot,giving the impression the batsmen had committed himself too early,but just when the bolwer thought he had got the better of him,the maestro would slip back and strike the ball to the fence.He was the greatest -ever exponent of the hook shot.Viv was a champion of the extra-cover drive ,and ruthlessly punished the ball of a full length palced leg-ward of the middle stump,for a bounday between square leg and mid-on.Viv went on to dominate champion bowlers like Dennis Lillee ,Imran Khan,Kapil Dev and Ian Botham.In Packer Cricket from 1977 he scored 862 runs in his first sason at an average of 86.2 (averaged 100 runs palying for Rest of the World side).He was instrumental in West Indies defeating a powerful Australian team led by Ian Chappel.(the then test world champions)Great batsmen and bowlers were made to look pedestal when Viv was in full flow.No bowler could surprise Viv with a bouncer on the fastest wickets.His 177,170 and 79(on a rained wicket)were classics.The way he dominated the greatest bowlers resemled a bomber destroying an enemy airbase. It was the equivalent in Cricket of all the best Hollywood stars playing a role in a film and a superstar standing out!Viv may have appeared technically deficient ,but his reflexes compensated for everything.

    .IViv played three of the greatset one day International innings ever seen.In the 1979 Word Cup final his 138 was scored out of 157 balls an innings which ended with a spectacular six of Mike Henderick where without any effort Viv helped a ball outside the leg stump to the backward square region.In 1984 at Old Trafford his then world Record 189 was scored with his team precariously placed at 183-9.Viv took charge like a military commander,hitting 5 sixes and taking the score to a match-winning total.I 1986 he smashed a 56 ball hundred scoring his 2nd 50 in 22 balls,with 7 sixes and and 7 fours.In 1979-80 at Melbourne he scored 153not out when Allan Border stated"Viv bludgeoned bolwing led by RodneyHogg,Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson and even when the field was spread out he struck the ball to the boundary"



    .No batsmen in the history of the game has been as destructive against hostile fast bowlingarguably the graetset ever batsmen of pure pace bwoling in Cricket history. One blot in Viv's book was that he was not a great player of spin bowling.I wish we had seen Viv bat for a weak team like George Headley or Brian Lara and face more crisis situations.I would have also liked to see him peform on wet pitches.Only then could Viv's postion be accurately judged amongst the all -time greats.(Viv batted for a champion team throughout unlike many great batsmen)It is significant that the advent of Viv left a serious void and was the start of the decline in West Indian Cricket.Imran Khan,Ian Botham, and Dennis Lillee consider him the greatest batsmen they have ever bowled to.Viv thoroughly deserved his place in Wisden's 5 top cricketers of all time behind Bradman and Sobers.Viv was a great slip fielder and also a competent off-spinner who provided many a breakthrough,particularly in the one day version.




    When I re-analyse great batsman overall Sir Vivian Richards is at the top of the tree,with the exception of Bradman and Hobbs.No batsman has ever been as destructive against great pace bowling in both test and one day Cricket or made a greater impact.In full flow Viv Richards treated the best fast bowlers like cattle walking to a slaughterhouse and when walking to the crease literally resembled emperor Alexander carrying a sword setting out to conquer every territory possible.

    The best innings I have seen of Viv was his 291 at the Oval.The batting was sheer sublime with Viv reminding you of a great emperor like Alexander conquering territory after territory.In the one day version his best effort was his 153 not out at Melbourne against Australia in 1979-80 where he literally treated the bowlers ;like cattle walking to a slaughterhouse.In that same yaer he scored a majestic 140 at Brisbane exuding his great prowess and also scored two superb 70+ Scores on a difficult Adelaide track.In Packer cricket he scored a chanceless 79 on a wet pitch,one of the finest displays in International Cricket.I also can never forget his 145 at Lords which contained some of the most imperious strokes and his 189 not out in 1984 at OLd Trafford where he literally saved a sinking ship and tore the bolwing like a tiger tearing it's prey.Watching Viv take apart Dennis Lillee was one of cricket's greatest sights.Richards was the best ever exponent of the hook shot.

    Sadly his Packer stats have not been counted,where he scored 1281 runs at a 55 run average per innings.From 1976-81 Richards dominated pace bowling more than Bradman ,and since the Don no batsman was as merciless .In his first season in 1977-78 in World Series Cricket he scored 862 runs at 86.2 including averaging 100 runs agaisnt the World 11.In England in 1976 his batting reached Bradmanesque proportions scoring 829 runs at 118.42 average.He may not have posessed the grace of Worrel or the technique of Sobers but no batsman equalled him for sheer ferocity.Lara or Tendulkar have never equalled Viv’s performances in the 1976 English season and his first year in Packer Cricket in Australia.

    In 1979-80 in Austrlia he butchered the likes of Lillee in a one-day game at Melbourne scoring 153 not out treating the bowling like an executioner beheading a convict.In 1979-80 season in Australia Viv Dominated both the test and one day arena like no batsman ever averaging 96.5 in the tests and 85 in the one-day games.

    Viv played for a champion team but remember he combated the likes of Imran,Lillee,and Hadlee like a champion ,with greater authority than Lara or Tendulakr played the likes of Glen Mcgrath or Wasim Akram,in recent times.Viv may not have posessed the creative genius and mammoth run scoring of Brian Lara ,or the technical excellence and consistency of Sachin Tendulkar ,but in full flow would have outplayed both of them.Imagine Viv batting on the placid pitches of today ,where the bolwing atacks are weaker.Since 2000 many more batsmen have averaged over 50 runs,than in previous periods as the pitches have become slower.True Tendulkar and Lara faced greater pressure,but remember they wore helmets and played in an era where there was a restriction of 2 bouncers per over.In the modern era Richards would have played many more games and had opportunities agaisnt Zimbabwe and Bangladesh.From 1976-1988 Viv average 55 runs ,which wasabove the likes of great players like Greg Chappell,Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad.In his era the number of batsman who averaged above 50 were three times less than today,or in the last decade.

    Richardsbest years were between 1976 and 1988. In 92 Tests during this period he scored 22 hundreds and was the only batsman to average more than 55 (among those who scored more than 4000). That was an era when several all-time greats were around – Greg Chappell, Allan Border, Sunil Gavaskar and Javed Miandad – but Richards’ average was marginally higher than theirs (though he obviously didn’t have to face his own bowlers, who were easily the most fearsome attack during that period). He averaged more than 50 in 13 out of the 23 series he played during this period.
    Of the 29 series he played, 14 times he averaged more than 50, and less than 30 on just seven occasions, most of them coming either during the early years or at the end.However stats could never do true justice to this maestro who in term sof domination of bowling had no true competitor.

    After 1982 his batting marginally declined and the old reflexes had slowed down.However he still played some memorable knocks like his 189 at Old Trafford in 1984,208 at Melbourne in 1984-85,a record 56 ball century at Antigua in 1986 ,2 well compiled centuries in England in 1984 and 1988 anhd amajestic unbeaten match-winnin g hundred at DElhi in 1988.In that last knock Richards displyed his true merit on difficult wickets in a run chase.His Old Trafford classic dipslayed his qualities in carrying the burden of his team's batting when the chips were down and when batting reminded you of agreat militray commander turning a lost battle into a winning one.He also topped the averages in the 1987 Reliancene World Cup and in the 1983 prudential World Cup played some of the finest knocks of his career to average over 73 in the tournament.

    In one day Cricket Viv posessed a phenomenal strike rate and great batting average,and in full flow he literally set thunder on the cricket field.His vaege of 47 runs paeks for itself as well as the impact of his 50”s and centuries.Viv Topped the averages in 2 World Cups in 1979 and 1987 and was very close to the top in 1983.

    In the cricinfo anlaysis Viv is rated 7th and adding Packers stats he edged out Jacques Kallis,taking into account Kallis”s stats upto June 2009.However I still don”t rate Tendulkar,Lara or Ponting better.It becomes a difficult equation.True it would have been easier for Lara to play for Clive Lloyd”s team or Tendulkar playing for a top team of the 1970”s ,but would they have combated the best pace bolwing without ahelmet,like Sir Viv Richards.I doubt it.Yes,agaisnt great spinbolwing they would have outscored Viv .Vice-versa had Viv Played for the recent West Indian team he wouldhave faced much more pressure but it may have made him deploy his talents further.Playing for a champion team is sometimes a disdavantage.No stats analysis can do justice for Viv Richards.In a stats analyis analysing all factors Sachin would definitely win scoring 51 test Centuries and almost 100 International Centuries.Morally,inspite of Tendulkar’s recent herculean efforts I rate Viv Richards ahead,who resembled a gladiator walking to a stadium.Tenatatively only Sobers,Bradman,Grace and Hobbs may rate above Viv in the all-time great list.Arguably he is the best match-winning batsman of all.

    Below I wish to reproduce some stats of Alticain,a blogger from cricweb

    ” I can’t recall a single full Test series of Sachin where his performance was similar to Richard\’s performance against Imran Khan & co. in Pakistan in 1980-81 (Windies batting total never crossed 300 in the entire series and Richards scored 350 runs at an average of 70 , more than twice the average (and runs) of the next best batsman, no other top-order West Indian batsman averaged above 30 in that series! The team\’s batting hung almost entirely on Richard\’s shoulders). And yet Sachin is hyped to have had no batting support whatsoever for a major part of his career, while Richards succeeded only because of the support of Haynes and Greenidge. What an irony.

    Contrastingly, Richards averages a healthy 47.61 in Tests against Dennis Lillee and Imran Khan (so much for Lillee-Imran effect on him). If you include Hadlee too, Richards averages a very decent 46.8. Interestingly Richards has scored more runs, at a better average against these bowlers (Imran,Lillee,Hadlee) than Gavaskar. Here is the link to the stats:
    Batsmen stats against Lillee, Imran and Hadlee

    Richards, at least, had a couple of towering away” series against both Imran (at his peak in 1980-81) and Lillee (in 1978-79). Even his performances against peak Lillee Thommo in 75-76 after he was asked to open the batting in Test match cricket (elevated from batting position 5 or 6) facing the fast bowlers when they were at their freshest and fastest, and the ball was its most new, were very good. He has had at least one high scoring series (300 runs) with a 50 average against each of Imran, Lillee and Hadlee.

    In stats analyis Viv is rated below Lara and Tendulkar but remember Viv was rarely tested in a crisis and playing for a champion team meant it was difficult for him to have a higher average percentage score of the team's total than Lara.In match performances Viv is superior to Tendulkar in stats analysis of Ananth Narayana .Here the quality of opposition and nature of the pitch are taken into consideration and the comparison of the performance of peer players.In one day Internationals Viv was greater match-winner than Sachin and a better player than Lara.Viv never played for records and if he wished to could have broken almost all of them.

    Personally,I rate Viv Richards only behind,Bradman Sobers,Warne and Hobbs as a cricketer overall.In his day no cricketer could affect the course of a game more than Viv.He was also a fine captain never losing a test series and mantaining the supremacy of West Indian Cricket.Above all he radiated more joy than any cricketer in his time.Above all he was a very affable and sporting human being.He took great pride in being a member of the black race and was a champion the Afro-American black liberation cause.His Cricket represented the black spirit and he was follower of Black leader Gail Selasie.Antiguan youth still idolise him like a demi-god.
     
  2. Markhor
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    Markhor Talented

    May 9, 2010
    2,701
    Great write-up.The term 'the next Viv Richards' is used way too loosely nowadays.When we see a young,aggressive,hard-hitting batsman,the usual connotations are of the great Viv.Unfortunately,players like him are a rarity.
     

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