A riot broke out in 1969 after a 16-year-old Antigua lad declined to walk off the field after being dismissed for a duck. Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, despite a two-year suspension from first-class cricket, made sure he would take up the willow to engrave his greatness in cricket.
Richards started playing club cricket for the Leeward Islands in 1972. However, in his first international match against Jamaica, he scored the most runs for Leeward and Windward Islands in the second innings.
Richards’ consistent success for St. John’s Cricket Club and the Antiguan Cricket team was rewarded when Len Creed, a Somerset committee member, assisted him in playing for Lansdown Cricket Club while still working as a groundsman to help defray his costs.
Viv Richards led his club’s batting average list in the summer of 1973-74, and his destructive batting drew the attention of Somerset coach Tom Cartwright in a benefit match.
Career In International
After a shaky test debut in India in 1974, he bounced back with an undefeated 192 in the following series. Richards had an outstanding 1976 season, scoring 1710 runs (including seven tonnes) and averaging 90.
He counter-attacked Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson with zeal during the 1975-76 Australia tour. Later, he thrashed the English in four tests, scoring an incredible 829 runs (two double tons).
Viv’s favourite prey had always been England. In 50 innings against England, he has scored 2869 runs at an average of 62.36.
Richards had the most success from 1976 to 1988, crushing 22 tonnes in 92 experiments at a phenomenal rate of 55+.
In the last three years, his performance has deteriorated dramatically, with his career average down from 52.88 to 50.23. In 1991, the illustrious batsman retired from test cricket after scoring 8540 runs (24 tonnes) in 121 matches.
In 50 tests, he led WI to victory, and in 15 episodes, he was undefeated.
With a comprehensive repertoire of strokes, Viv Richards’ devastating batting was tailor-made for ODI. He scored 6721 runs in 187 innings, with a strike rate of 90.20 and an average of 47.
Richards scored his first century against England in the seventh match since making his debut against Sri Lanka.
His best innings came against England in 1984, when he batted undefeated for 189 runs. Until 2017, the innings held the record for the highest percentage of a team’s total (69.48%).
Richards’ demeanour aided him in achieving success in major matches as well. One of the best examples were that he almost single-handedly lifted the 1979 World Cup by smashing an undefeated 138 against England at Lord’s.
Richards has also made a major contribution to cricket, with 99 wickets to his credit.
Richards made history in 1987 by becoming the first player to score a century and take four wickets in an ODI. He is the first player in history to win the Man of the Match award 31 times.
The gladiator annihilated batsmen at a time when lethal fast bowling was intimidating them. Richards wore his zeal and defiance on his sleeves to the point that he never wore cricket armour. By playing around the line shots, aggressive innings, and sharpened fielding, the maestro revolutionised cricket.