Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards was born on 7 March 1952 at St. John’s, Antigua. Considered to be one of the finest batsmen of all time, he was also a part time off break bowler. One of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, he was nominated Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1977.
Richards made his test debut at Bangalore against India in 1974-5 and his one-day international debut against Sri Lanka in the World Cup of 1975. His last test was against England at the Oval in 1991 and his last ODI was at Lord’s in the same series. Playing 121 tests, he scored 8,540 runs at an average of 50.23, with 24 hundreds and 291 as his highest score. He claimed 32 wickets and took 122 catches. In 187 ODIs, he scored 6,721 runs at an average of 47.00, with 11 hundreds and 189 n.o. as his highest score. He also claimed 118 wickets and took 100 catches.
For more than fifteen years, Richards dominated cricket – the traditional as well as the instant version – like nobody’s business. The very sight of him walking in with his famous swagger, chewing gum, his huge shoulders loosening up for action, sent shivers down the spines of international bowlers. He could play all the shots in the game, but his flicks to mid-wicket and the pull shots were absolutely breathtaking. He could easily dispatch a short of a good length ball to the cover boundary with a classical back foot drive, or just swish it through mid-wicket for four. Such was his genius. A brilliant cover fielder in his early days, he later took some outstanding catches in the slips.
One young – highly rated - England fast bowler once beat him with his first four deliveries in a side game. Cock-a-hoop at troubling the great man, the bowler said, “ Hey, Viv. It’s round and red in colour. Can you see it?” Richards did not say a word, but dispatched the next delivery right out of the ground, into the river across the road. While the groundsmen were looking for the ball, Richards walked down the pitch, tapping at imaginary bootmarks, and chewing his gum and drawled, “ You know how the ball looks like. Now, go get it!”
A genius and a gentleman! Modern cricket badly needs someone like him.