Today we send birthday greetings to one of Cricket World icons as we wish Sir Viv Richards a Happy 70th Birthday.
Richards was a very powerful right-handed batsman with an extremely attacking style, besides being an excellent fielder, and a handy off-spin bowler.
He represented Antigua and Barbuda at cricket and football, and later played first-class cricket for Leeward Islands and had a stellar career on the international stage.
However, Richards came from a very humble background and left school at a tender age of 18 and secured employment at D’Arcy’s Bar and Restaurant in St. John’s.
During his childhood Richards initially trained with his father and Pat Evanson, a neighbour and family friend, who had captained the Antigua cricket side.
He received further encouragement from his brothers, Mervyn and Donald, both of whom played for Antigua. The owner of the restaurant, D’Arcy Williams, provided Richards with new whites, gloves, pads and bat.
At the age of 22, after having played matches in the Antigua, Leeward Islands and Combined Islands tournaments, he was scouted by Len Creed, Vice Chairman of Somerset Cricket Club who was in Antigua at the time as part of a West Country touring side and was impressed by his hitting abilities.
Richards was then relocated to the United Kingdom where Len Creed arranged for him to play League cricket for Lansdown Cricket Club in Bath.
He finished his first season at Lansdown with top batting averages and shortly afterwards was offered a two year contract with county side Somerset which opened the floodgates of his career.
Richards made his Test match debut for the West Indian cricket team in 1974 against India in Bangalore. He made an unbeaten 192 in the second Test of the same series in New Delhi.
Richards was also instrumental in West Indies winning the inaugural World Cup of 1975 not only with his devastating batting but also with his fielding in the final against Australia.
He turned the contest in favour of the Caribbeans with his well-directed missiles to run out opener Alan Turner and the Chappell brothers, Ian and Greg.
The West Indies were again able to win the World Cup in 1979, due to a Richards century in the final at Lord’s. The World Cup win not only made West Indies invincible in the cricketing circuit but also helped West Indies unite as a nation despite internal divisions.
1976 was Richard’s watershed year where he scored 1710 runs, including a remarkable 829 runs in the series in England despite missing one test match after contracting glandular fever ,yet he returned to score his career-best 291 at the Oval later in the summer and trounced England 3-0.
This aggregate in a calendar year remained a record for 30 years till it was surpassed by Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan in 2006.
Richards took over the West Indies captaincy following Clive Lloyd’s retirement in 1985 and led them in 50 Tests, winning 27 and losing 15, but more importantly he didn’t lose a single series.
Sir Viv thrilled fans all over the world close to 20 years. He made his debut in 1974 in India and ended in 1991 as captain on the tour of England.
In Test cricket he scored 8,540 runs with 24 centuries – the highest of 291 against England on the 1976 tour which he dominated. In ODIs he had no equal as he amassed 6,721 runs with a top score of 189 against England in 1984. Overall, he made 36,212 first-class runs and was one of few players to score over 100 centuries.