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Cricketers on their idols

Collis King on Viv Richards

Not a man to be bowling at

You thanked the stars that you were playing on the same team

Mark Pennell

January 26, 2010

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Viv Richards ploughes on and on ... finishing with 291, England v West Indies,  The Oval, August 1976
Richards: you stray, you pay © The Cricketer International
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I didn't really have a cricketing hero growing up in Christ Church, Barbados. I watched guys like Rohan Kanhai and Garry Sobers when I was a kid, but I never really tried to emulate any of them. I just wanted to be my own person and to make my own mark. But when I started to play the game at a professional level, I couldn't help but admire the great players, and from my generation, Vivian Richards clearly took some beating.

Whenever I played for Barbados against Viv, turning out for Leeward Island or the Combined Islands, I just set out to try and bowl a consistent line and length to him. You knew anything going down leg side would go for four and anything short would receive the same treatment. Your only hope was to stick to good line and length and hope the ball did something for you. If it didn't, you were in trouble. You'd be put away.

You had to keep telling yourself, "it only needs one good ball to get the man out", but most of the time you knew he was going to score runs. It can sometimes happen that you get so wound up trying to bowl dot balls that you forget you're actually trying to get him out. If that did happen, then your last hope was that a bit of greed just might take over - if he had hit you for two fours in an over already, he might just get himself in going for a third. He was such a hard man to bowl at.

My best memory of Viv was his 291 against England at The Oval in 1976, against an attack that included Bob Willis, Derek Underwood and Tony Greig. It was the best innings I've ever seen. His power was immense. I thought I was playing the same game, but Viv took batting to another level that day [King scored 63 in his only innings of the match]. He was awesome. On those occasions you just thanked the stars that you were playing on the same team as him because sure as hell you didn't want to bowl at that guy too often when he was in that sort of destructive form.

As told to Mark Pennell, managing director of freelance reporting and public relations agency Kent & Sussex Sport

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