Writers on the best day, session or passage of play they've seen live

West Indies v England, 5th Test, Antigua, 1986

Caesar returns triumphant

The greatest cricketer of his generation, and the moment of his fulfillment

Scyld Berry

January 31, 2010

Text size: A | A

Viv Richards bats
Richards: 56 balls of pure class Adrian Murrell / © Getty Images
Related Links
Players/Officials: Sir Viv Richards
Series/Tournaments: The Wisden Trophy
Teams: West Indies

It was not a great innings. England's bowling consisted of honest seam, on a pitch at the Antigua Recreation Ground which offered not the slightest seam movement, and orthodox finger-spin. But the fastest Test hundred ever recorded in terms of balls received was an historic occasion - because it was the moment that saw the fulfillment of the greatest cricketer of his generation, Viv Richards.

Everything was set up for him. West Indies had a large first-innings lead on which they wanted to build. England were already 0-4 down in the series and mentally pummelled from pillar to post by the great West Indian fast bowlers. Richards strolled out, had a couple of sighters, then drove, flicked and whipped the ball as he pleased. If there was any element of doubt in his innings, it was whether he would hit a four or a six. In 56 balls he had his hundred.

The extraordinary, and forever memorable, feature of his innings was the way he walked off at the end. It was Caesar returning to Rome after his greatest triumph. Nobody rolled a red carpet out on to the field, but it would have been superfluous. All eyes were on Richards as he returned to the pavilion, and he paused - and batsmen don't normally stop on their way back to the pavilion - and he looked, and he took in the whole scene. For he had created so much of what he then saw.

Richards put Antigua on the map. He brought Test cricket to the island in 1981 - an island of 80,000 inhabitants. Long after Stanford has come and gone, Antigua will be associated with Sir Vivian Richards. A measure of what he achieved is the decline of cricket in Antigua and the West Indies since he ceased to play. The fastest hundred, on his own home ground, was the moment of his fulfillment.

Scyld Berry is the editor of the Wisden Almanack

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Email Feedback Print

    An all-round ODI giant

Numbers Game: Few players can boast the sort of numbers that Jacques Kallis achieved in ODIs

    Is being bowled out by Moeen embarrassing?

Polite Enquiries: Is Rahane India's Misbah? Should Rohit be dropped? Jarrod Kimber and George Dobell discuss

    'We were determined to prove we were not an average team'

Former South Africa wicketkeeper Dave Richardson remembers his favourite moment from the Lord's win in 1994

    'A test of Kohli's mental strength'

Bowl at Boycs: Geoffrey Boycott on Kohli's recent form, and Cook's captaincy

How does one 'lead by example'?

Alex Bowden: A captain needs to do enough as an individual to retain respect and control, but exceptional performances may not result in even greater influence

News | Features Last 7 days

The woeful world of Pankaj Singh

Pankaj Singh greeted his most expensive analysis in Test history with the words 'That is cricket'. It was admirable acceptance from an impressive man of a record he did not deserve

Bhuvneshwar on course for super series

Only 15 times in Test history has a player achieved the double of 300 runs and 20 wickets in a Test series. Going on current form, Bhuvneshwar could well be the 16th

Ugly runs but still they swoon

Alastair Cook did not bat like a leading man but the crowd applauded him for simply not failing

Boycott floored by an Indian trundler

When Eknath Solkar got under the skin of Geoff Boycott, leading to a three-year self-imposed exile from Test cricket

Worst keepers, and honours at Lord's

Also, most keeping dismissals on debut, seven-for at HQ, and youngest ODI centurions

News | Features Last 7 days
Sponsored Links

Why not you? Read and learn how!