Is there anyone who doesn’t know Viv Richards? Are there any of our readers who never saw him bat?
If there are, you need to get this month’s issue of The Wisden Cricketer which has a special Viv Richards ‘Heroes of Cricket’ supplement with it. There is a profound gap in your cricketing knowledge. It is the shape of a gum-chewing burly West Indian in a cap.
We’ve grown used to aggressive batsmen cowing opposition bowlers in recent times, but there are some crucial reasons why Viv Richards did it better than Virender Sehwag, Matthew Hayden or anyone else.
Intimidating a bowler’s one thing, but try doing it in a maroon, woollen cap instead of a helmet. Actually, don’t. That maroon, woollen cap was King Viv’s crown and he earned it. You’d earn yourself a mouthful of teeth.
To swan up to a fast bowler and look him in the eye is one thing. To do it in the knowledge that all you have to protect you from bouncers is a beard is quite another. To make that bowler smear his undercrackers during his run-up is beyond belief.
Beasting the ball to all parts while giving off the air of a man doing nothing more strenuous than painting a fence was just the icing on the cake. Although it has to be said that it was a big cake and the icing was lethal to anyone who wasn’t West Indian.
Viv averaged 50 back when that meant something and he hit the fastest Test hundred of all time off 56 balls. The innings included a one-handed six and climaxed with boundaries at will, despite nine men on the boundary.