Gleanings GleaningsRSS FeedFeeds
Cricketers reflect on their lives and times

Richie Richardson

'It's about how you score, not how many'

However much you do on the field, if the fans aren't happy, it's all futile

Interview by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

Text size: A | A

'I have never been afraid of anything in life' Getty Images

It wasn't easy for small island cricketers. Everyone wanted to play for West Indies. It became easier after Andy Roberts, and later Viv Richards, made it, and then a number of others followed. When the South Africa rebel series came, I told myself that I must grab the opportunity. I got a century for Leeward Islands and made it into the West Indies side.

Once, when I was young, West Indies were playing Australia and everyone on the street was listening to commentary. People were sitting on the trees, watching the game. Nobody was working. Everyone was so excited, calling out names like Sobers and Hall and Griffith, and I thought, "These guys must be great. I want to become like them." I thought I would play for West Indies one day. Went to secondary school and played with the hard ball for the first time.

Viv Richards was like an icon for me - a real inspiration. When I joined the team, he was somebody who was there to make sure I found my way.

I only got exposed to helmets when I played for West Indies. I tried wearing them, but I was very uncomfortable. It was like trying to fight against someone without room to manoeuvre. It made me vulnerable. I would always advise youngsters to wear a helmet, but I wasn't too comfortable with it.

A fast bowler's biggest weapon is the short ball. They may want to hit you or they may want to get you out, but I told myself that they wanted to kill me, and took them on. I have never been afraid of anything in life.

I don't know how I got to the wicket in my debut innings in Bombay. I guess I just floated there. I was so happy just to be there. I couldn't believe the names I was playing with - it was like a galaxy of stars. In the first innings, I made nought, and was given lbw after the ball hit the face of the bat. So I said "Welcome to Test cricket, I'm going to be here for a very long time."

Courtney [Walsh] is the first person I'll take with me to war. A real soldier. Even with a broken leg, he's not going to say he won't play. He'll never ever let you down. Curtly [Ambrose], to me, was a more accomplished bowler. He didn't love the game all that much but, apart from once, I can't recall him ever having a bad spell. He had such brilliant control. Curtly was one of the greatest fast bowlers I have seen.

I tried wearing helmets, but I was very uncomfortable. It was like trying to fight against someone without room to manoeuvre
I started taking cricket seriously when I realised how much it meant to my people. Cricket was very much part of our lives. We played it morning, noon and night.

When I was in school, I rarely played the hook shot. One afternoon at practice, I was batting on a pitch with a lot of bounce, and tried to evade a few short balls. I was very uncomfortable. My coach Guy Yearwood told all the fast bowlers to not pitch anything up while bowling to me. The only way to survive was to hook. There were a lot of trees on the western part of the ground, and I ended up breaking several branches hooking that day.

The difficult part about being a captain is to keep your players motivated all the time, to want to go out there and give their best. Players can get sidetracked very easily; they need to be focused all the time.

Any sport I played, I wanted to do everything, always be involved. As a kid I would bat and bowl. When I was in the school team, I used to open the bowling and bat at No. 3 or 4. I soon realised there were too many top bowlers around, and concentrated on batting. For Antigua and Leeward Islands, I was an opener. When I made it to the West Indies side, I was never going to replace Gordon Greenidge or Desmond Haynes. So Viv Richards moved down to No. 4, and I was allowed to bat at No. 3.

It's not only about how much you score, but how you score. However much ability you have, and however much you do, if the fans aren't happy, it's all futile. I was very conscious of that. I wanted to do well in front of full stadiums, wanted to entertain.

Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo. This interview was first published in Cricinfo Magazine in 2006

RSS Feeds: Siddhartha Vaidyanathan

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print
Siddhartha VaidyanathanClose
Related Links
Players/Officials: Sir Richie Richardson
Teams: West Indies

    Trading places

All Out Cricket: In a world where £50m can be staked on a single IPL game, armies of professional cricket traders work the betting markets. But who are these people?

The set-up

The Cricket Monthly: When Tony Greig was outwitted by Ashley Mallett
Download the app: for iPad | for Android tablet

    Automaton, man, inspiration

Twenty years on, Shivnarine Chanderpaul continues to be understated. And that doesn't bother him. What's not to like? By Brydon Coverdale

    85 Tests, 70 defeats

Numbers Game: Bangladesh's stats are easily the worst among all teams when they'd played as many Tests

The case against revoking ODI status

Tim Wigmore: The ICC's decision to restrict the number of ODI teams deprives Associates of the ability to generate enough funds to survive, and to gain new fans

News | Features Last 7 days

Champions League T20 still battling for meaning

The thrills are rather low-octane, the skills are a bit lightweight, and the tournament overly India-centric

From Constantine to Chanderpaul

As West Indies play their 500th Test, here's an interactive journey through their Test history

Busy keepers, and Waqar's bowleds

Also, high scores and low averages, most ducks in international cricket, and the 12-year-old Test player

'My kind of bowling style is gone now'

Former New Zealand seamer Gavin Larsen talks about wobbly seam-up bowling, the 1992 World Cup, and his role in the next tournament

Automaton, man, inspiration

Twenty years on, Shivnarine Chanderpaul continues to be understated, underestimated. And that doesn't bother him. What's not to like?

News | Features Last 7 days