Richards disagreed with those who say ODIs should be trimmed further ‘Ludicrous!’

The West Indies legend says the 2023 ODI World Cup has been a great advert for the format to stay.

‘Ludicrous!’ Viv Richards dismissed suggestions that ODI cricket’s time is up. The West Indies batting legend still swears by the format he once ruled, helping the Caribbeans to be crowned champions in the first two World Cups.

For those young and who thought the adrenaline rush provided by Glenn Maxwell’s Mumbai madness was a first, Richards once lifted West Indies from 102/7 and 166/9 to 272/9 in 55 overs, finishing with world record 189* in a 1984 ODI against England.

He speaks reverentially of Maxwell’s counter-attacking brilliance against Afghanistan when he smashed a match-winning, unbeaten 201*.

“Where on earth would you have heard a guy scoring 200, especially in circumstances, from 90 for 7 (91/7)?” he asked. “This particular World Cup has been a great advert, why this tournament should stay.”

Richards, 71 and wearing an oversized shirt, still walks with the old swagger that used to leave bowlers shaking in their boots. He mingled with cricketers, including his contemporaries, at the ICC Hall of Fame event in Mumbai.

“This is the next important format after Test cricket. It gives the batters an opportunity to get your innings in. 50 overs is just enough time to accomplish an innings. You have the de Kocks, Markrams, the Kohlis…it’s the best format. What we have seen from some of the World Cup scores, the number of hundreds scored, a double hundred, it’s been highly impressive.”

There may be commercial challenges to keep ODI cricket running outside World Cups. But the former Windies skipper pointed out that the format is a bridge between 450 overs of Test cricket and 40 overs of T20 action.

“I don’t think we want individuals to go from Test cricket to T20. Some are not wanting to play Tests. That also justifies why 50 overs should remain.”

Richards sees no reason why three formats cannot continue to co-exist. “It’s like in golf where we have the various formats which are allowed to be played out at some point,” he says. “If you ask people who appreciate the game and I am hoping that they will give an honest answer, 50 overs are the next best thing to the greatest format which is Test cricket.”

The first three ODI World Cups of 1975 and 1979 were played over 60 overs an innings. It was then cut down to 50 overs each. Richards disagreed with those who say ODIs should be trimmed further. “Listen, all I know, when we tweak too many things, we upset the applecart.”

It’s not that he dislikes T20s. He’s played a mentoring role in many T20 leagues. “For those who want to play, Test cricket is the foundation. Once you have accomplished what you have in 50 overs cricket, you can have the fun. professional fun in T20s. I think that’s the right perspective,” he said.

What about players who want to give up ODIs for T20 leagues? “They are lazy like that,” he said. “Even before you would have heard that comment, they would have given up on 50 overs cricket. I am hoping that common sense prevails with the administrators. What I am putting forth is the format that I wanted to be in. There must be a governing body that suggests that this is how it should be.”

Richards feels the pulse of the country as he sees Indian fans rooting for their team to end their losing streak at knock-out rounds in ICC events.

“It’s great to be where they are. It’s a record to win 9 out of 9 (in a single league phase). Sometimes the record doesn’t have to stay there. They must ask, why don’t we win the 10th (India beat New Zealand by 70 runs in the semis), why don’t we win the 11th? They have a great opportunity to prove all the pundits wrong. Whether or not they are going to have a bad time in the finals? If you are that confident, go all out” he said.

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