Two for the show
Viv Richards gained recognition in my mind instantly when he came along with the great West Indies team and handed a mauling to Tony Greig's England in 1976. I was about seven years old and had just to play cricket with my brothers in the back garden. Richards plundered a record number of Test runs that year, till Mohammad Yousuf did better.
Till then I had only seen my dad play on the village greens, but when I saw Richards and then Botham on television, they became instant heroes. I would use the same Duncan Fearnley bats both used.
There was not much distinction between the two. As I grew older I realised what attracted me to both these guys was, they were both entertainers. As simple as that. They could both change a game. From there onwards my dream was to play my hand, even if in one game for England, to change the course of the game.
They had an impact on me and gave me a real understanding of what doing well actually meant for your team. I was lucky enough to bowl to Viv in a game against Glamorgan. He was very much at the back end of his career and the game was moving towards a draw. Waqar Younis was at Surrey at the time and bowling at his quickest. I said to Waqar, "Come on, mate, let 'im have one". He said "Nah." Richards was the sort of player - even a young man like Waqar knew who he was. He was like the Don.
I was lucky enough to have met Richards on a few occasions and he was very humble. Similarly with Botham, with whom I did television commentary and had lots of after-match talking sessions over the years, it was the same feeling - you give respect, you get respect.
As told to Nagraj Gollapudi