On 21st July a fortnight ago we celebrated the 75th birthday of the South African batting superstar Barry Richards.I cant express the extent of my regret in forgetting his 75th birthday landmark.I am posting this tribute commemorating Barry's reaching 75.Really Sorry to miss out on the actual day. There could rarely have been a more gifted sportsman let alone cricketer than the immortal Barry Richards.I could not name a batsman more technically perfect who could blend technical skill attacking agression and creativity in more perfect proportion.He would often tear an attack apart with the ferocity of an army launching a combing operation but never at the expense of the technical skill of a surgeon or architect.Barry was simply perfection personified in batting posessing every ingredient of the complete batsman.In full flow he made the rest of the field often look as though it was just going through the motions ,like an Emperor leading his knights in a parade. Sadly he could only play 4 official tests with Apartheid policy of South Africa debarring him from playing test cricket after 1969-70.At international level he made a comeback in the Kerry Packer WSC supertests.Nevertheless he averaged 72.57 in his official tests and in unofficial supertests topped the batting averages at 79.He aggregated over 500 run sin the 1976-70 series agaisnt Australia and in the unofficial series in Australia in 1977-1978. At Kingsmead in the 2nd test of 1969-70 series against Australia Barry scored 140 in 164 balls Overall he aggregated 508 runs scoring another century and enabled South Africa to win the series. In Kerry Packer WSC games he scored 2 of the finest centuries,including a double hundred. He scored 207 against Australia representing World XI in 1977-78 and an unbeaten 125 in the Wsc final playing agaisnt Australia again in 1978.In his knock of 2017 in the 90 min she played with Viv,Barry scored 93 runs while his compatriot only 41.In his unbeaten 125 at SCG he steered his team home in the 4th innings chasing a victory target of 224 runs in adverse batting conditions taking the likes of Ray Bright,Gary Gilmour and Dennis Lilleee apart.Remarkably,both were executed in winning causes.It was a revelation for Australian fans who arguably never witnessed such majestic strokeplay since Bradman or perfection touching heights of the sublime.Above all he overshadowed greats like Viv Richards and the Chappell brothers. Don Bradman felt Barry was was the best batsman he saw and so did Ray Robinson .One was reminded of an emperor in full pop conquering territory after territory with Barry out there in the middle.Even the likes of Sobers,Kanhai,May ,Greg Chappell or Pollock did not display as clinical execution as Barry .Above all his game was not just that of a computerized machine and had its own kind of elegance or artistry.It would not be wring to say that Richards was like a Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar rolled into one.Similar to Sunny and Viv .he never wore a helmet. It was in first class Cricket that Barry displayed batting of metaphysical proportions.Statistically Geoff Boycott or earlier Jack Hobbs was better but is hard to envisage batting domination so consistently taken to such depths as Barry did.He conquered all the great bowlers be it spinners like Bishen Bedi or Derek Underwood or Jeff Thomson or Imran Khan at their quickest.Never on English soil were bowlers crucified with such correctness of Grammar as Barry.Often for spectators it was more of witnessing an exhibition.At stages Barry would even make the great Gordon Greenidge look pedestal.Barry in Englsih first class cricket scored 1000 runs 9 times and overall including South Africa and Australia 15.Unlike Boycott he carved out many a win for his county Hampshire,enabling them to capture the county championship title.Barry was also prolific in limited overs county cricket. In 1972 playing for Western Australia he aggregated 1583 international runs in the season at an average of 109.86.In a game against Western Australia he scored 356 including 325 runs in a single day.This was simply batting in Bradmanesque heights.In that match he faced bowlers of the calibre of Dennis Lillee ,Graham Mckenzie and Tony Lock.His batting revealed virtuousity in regions of divinty like a new monument being erected..What was remarkable was that he continuously accelerated his rate of accumulating runs ,resembling a passenger train or thoroughbred racehorse going faster and faster until reaching full gear. In that season he also scored a double century facing John Snow playing against an MCC team.Facing Jeff Thomson at his fastest he scored a century against the touring Australian sin 1975,which speaks for itself.I n English county cricket he scored centuries in all types of of conditions be it flat wickets,turning tracks,bouncy surfaces or even wet sticklers.In 1973 playing against Warwickshire Barry singlehandedly salvaged his team's cause playing role of a lone crusader scoring 240 when the 2nd highest score was not more than 56.Other incredible feats were scoring 189 out of a total of 289-6 against MCC at Lords and a double century verus Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge when no one scored more than 30. Overall in first class cricket Barry scored 34,843 runs with 80 centuries at an an average of 54.74. Certain cricketing greats like Gary Sobers feel that Barry was a true great but cannot be classed with the likes of Gavaskar,Viv,Lara or Tendulkar because he never proved himself in formal test cricket.This is why many past cricketers excluded Barry from their all time test world XI.In Contrast the immortal Don Bradman,Opener Graham Gooch ,Kim Hughes ,Derek Underwood and umpire Dicky Bird rate Barry at the top of the tree,even ahead of Viv,Tendulkar and Gavaskar.Fascinatingly most West Indians chose Greenidge or Gavaskar instead of Barry in their all -time test XI.Both batsman overall fetched more votes than Barry.In the middle are the views of greats like Lillee,Imran ,Mike Brearley,Chappell brothers or Clive Lloyd who eulogize barry but still rank Viv Richards ahead of Barry,as the best batsman of his time. I would select Barry in my all-time XI as he was the ultimate match-winner and turn more games than Hobbs,Gavaskar or Hutton.Arguably to bat for your life I may prefer Sunny or Hutton or on bad wickets Hobbs or Trumper.Taking into regard aesthetics and impact in first class cricket overall .It must be stated that when playing in official tests he did not face the greatest bowlers and basically missed the challenge or pressures of official cricket. How would Barry compare with Pollock, Viv or Gavaskar?Unlike Gavaskar.Gooch or Chappell brothers he did not face the fiercest Carrribean pace quartet.It is also noteworthy that the likes of Lillee or Imran found it a more daunting proposition to bowl to Viv.West Indian speedsters feel Gavaskar or Boycott were harder to dislodge.Gary Sobers overall rates Gavaskar ahead while players of later generations generally rate Viv as the best they ever saw.Some may disagree with me but for sheer genius Viv or Lara may just edge Barry buy a whisker in my view.I doubt Barry would slaughter opponents in equal degree to Viv .In Barry's favour are that he mesmerised the world's best bowlers in country cricket while Viv never had to take on his team's great pace quartet .Never forget Viv was not at his best in first class cricket when encountering the great Malcolm Marshall in the Carribean.Barry was more technicallly organized and correct than Pollock and at his best in a more competitive era.Pollock was however more proven scoring over 22oo runs and 7 centuries in official test cricket. To me amongst batsmen overall Barry would rank behind Bradman,Hobbs,Tendulkar,,Viv Lara ,Sobers and Hammond.Respecting cricketing aesthetics I would place Barry a whisker above Gavaskar and Hutton or even above Graeme Pollck and Greg Chappell.Amongst cricketers overall Barry would comprise my top 15,just nosed by Wasim,Kallis and Lara.It maybe my very personal view that had Barry had a proper international career he would have been the best international batsman of all time,combining tests and ODI's,In sole tset cricket 2nd to only Bradman.I can't express the extent of loss to the cricket world of Barry being debarred,like destroying a comet or star from being born in the galaxy.A genius of geniuses was literally stopped in his tracks. Quoting Jack Fingleton "Once in two or three generations there comes a virtuoso batsman who beguiles even his opponents."In the view of Henry Blofeld "I have never seen anyone make the art of batting simpler than Barry Richards." Quoting Dicky Bird "I go for Barry Richards as the best batsman I have ever seen.Even if people may argue you cannot judge a man on the basis of only playing four tests there is no doubt in my mind that he was the best."