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'We felt we could defend any total'

1979, part two: Viv Richards talks about the West Indies pace attack, the prospect of playing against the old enemy, and his cricket philosophy (00:00)

January 31, 2011

Transcript

'We felt we could defend any total'

January 31, 2011

Andy Roberts bowls, England v West Indies, fourth Test, Headingley, 23 July, 1976
Having played county cricket, like Andy Roberts did for Hampshire, meant the West Indies bowlers knew how to bowl in English conditions Bob Thomas / © Getty Images

The Indians were always a tough proposition. Gundappa Viswanath was just a class act, you know. He wasn't the tallest player, but a wristy player. Whenever he had the bat in his hand, he looked like the conductor of the biggest symphony in the world, that's how he used the bat. He was pretty clever with his play.

Most of our bowlers had experiences playing in England, playing county cricket, and that was enormous. Andy Roberts was playing for Hampshire then, and having these guys with vast amounts of experience and the quality of the bowlers we had, it did help. They knew how to bowl in those conditions. Edgbaston, at that time, I felt was a little seaming and a little bouncing track, which would have helped our pace attack. We had a class attack with Roberts, Michael Holding and others. Maybe that's why I felt after we played against India, or bowled against them in that particular innings, it created an avenue because the bowlers did so well. Gordon Greenidge, as professional as he is, went out and played magnificently well and gave us an opportunity to go through to next round.

Those were the rules then. I felt that maybe it helped the administration also to get down to some nitty-gritty in terms of the thinking process. I don't know if it would have helped in the way it is done at present. The Duckworth-Lewis system when it gets down to the run rate. This could have been the introduction of those individuals. But for the matches that were rained off, it was just unfortunate, and you were unlucky when you did have foul weather.

New Zealanders weren't the most attractive team but they were pretty disciplined. And when you have a bunch of guys with not many big names as such, where cricket is concerned … the Hadlees, the Martin Crowes and people like that. But they had guys who were very efficient, knew exactly what they were capable of. Stuck to what they were good at. Sometimes people looked at New Zealand as team that grinded out, but they were a tenacious team. They were strong about making decisions collectively. That's where they were strong, one of the better team units with the lack of personalities. But they always got results and always could be spoilers at some point, when given a chance.

Well I think then with the guys we had, throwing down the missiles for us, we always felt that, and that was their thinking also, regardless of whatever the opposition got they felt they were good enough to get them out. Who would doubt them? I wouldn't. And it was proven. We would have loved to get more runs. We collectively believed that if it was difficult for us while batting then it's got to be difficult for them when New Zealand came out to bat. So I guess it was proven that you do not bet against these bowlers when they are in that mood.

England is the old enemy where we are concerned, the Caribbean folks. As West Indians, maybe that's our little Ashes series. We didn't want to give an inch when competing against them, and it came from both sides. So we didn't mind. One way you have to look at it is that when you reach that stage you have to play well. So you cannot ignore and draw preferences as to who you would like to play in the final. It is about: you have to, you must regardless of whoever it is. That's the psyche of you knowing that "I am here and I don't want to be one of those individuals that also ran all the way". My father left me with a great saying you know: '"He or she who knows the way, leads the way, goes all the way". That was my little philosophy when I was playing. And this is what collective team spirit is all about, that some point it may not be you but you still have to be a part of that because you may be of enormous help to what everyone is trying to achieve.


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