March 7, 2012

You came, I saw, you conquered

Gum-chewing, ball-thwacking, awe-inspiring superstar Viv Richards is sixty today
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Sixty.

That would be around the time the opposition shook themselves out of their discombobulated stupor and contemplated the reality of their situation. Or the hopelessness. You blazed up to and past that number nonchalantly oh so often. You were never one for the numbers, were you?

Sixty today. In the theatre of life. Sixty candles to blow out. Hope you remember to lose the gum you've been chewing before you do. The gum that accompanied the swagger. The swagger that spooked out teams; that prefaced the gaze you trained on the bowler at the top of his run-up. Looking into his eyes as you patted down random spots on the pitch, having just taken guard. Sending chills down the spines of all who were watching. Starting with that day in Bangalore.

It wasn't just your debut, it was mine too. I had never watched a cricket match in the flesh till then. It would be the day scrambled myths in an impressionable mind met reality - the sea of faces, the green grass and the magical figures in whites. I still cannot believe my luck that you were one of the first cricketers I set eyes upon. On my very first day of watching cricket! Yes, we were veritably blessed in Bangalore. Also four years later, when I watched Macko bowl his first ball in Test cricket.

I grew up with you. Ventured forth into cricket with your shadow over me. "De cricket is dead man. Wake myself up when Smokey start to bat," was Big Bird's purported request in the pavilion before dozing off. You sure did wake me up to cricket, and for that I owe you. After Bangalore, you widened my eyes a week later in Delhi and then grabbed me around the shoulders and took me on the journey of my life.

I never dreamt of batting like you in street-side cricket matches, you know. Your feats seemed so out of reach. But I did try to chew gum like you. Even wanted to sweat like you. Beads of sweat that clung to the brow and forearms like drops of oil. Sweat that made those muscular shoulder blades sheen through your white shirt. Lillee had his one-finger windshield wiper to flick the sweat off his brow. You deployed your biceps and forearms. But you did flick Lillee right off your brow, into the stands, with your Slazenger. Thommo and Lenny too.

Ah, Lenny. Who once stopped inches from your face after sending one whizzing past the regal nose - and traced out a crucifix on your forehead. And you followed him all the way back to the top of his endless run-up. To brandish your fist in his face, glowering. Then walked briskly back to the crease to smash him straight for six the very next ball. "He destroyed you physically, mentally and emotionally," Lenny was to say later. You were all deeds; words and theatrics you dispensed with. "My bat is my sword," you said.

Antigua, I missed out on. And Old Trafford too. I went mad reading the match reports. It was agonising that I had not lived them as they occurred. I was intensely jealous of those who were fortunate to be there. I felt cheated. For I had a stake in you that entitled me, I thought. Proceeded to wear out a VHS tape of that innings - watching you plant your foot three feet outside the leg stump as you bludgeoned Willis and Beefy into the stands at cover. Lord's 1983; again the fates conspired. The TV signal blacked out nationwide during your manhandling of Madan Lal. But I do admit, that was probably the only time in my life I prayed that you failed miserably.

I never dreamt of batting like you in street-side cricket matches, you know. Your feats seemed so out of reach. But I did try to chew gum like you

You were to become the "you" in YouTube. I turned scavenger when it arrived. Was there a backlog or what. Endless nights spent searching for imagery to accompany your music in my head. You had unfurled mainly in crackly sound when it all happened. Television was non-existent in Bangalore then. It was the BBC, the ABC and good old All India Radio we had to cope with. Late nights, Cozier, Arlott, Johnston, Benaud and McGilvray.

"Huccha, huccha," ("Lunatic, lunatic" in Kannada) my grandfather would splutter as I sat grasping the antenna on that shortwave radio way past bedtime, cajoling out an audible signal. But he always sat down to listen, didn't he? Eyes closed. Awaiting.

To this day, I look for the scores of Somerset during the season. Still get a kick out of them beating up on any other county. You did that to me. Not Sunny. Beefy and you (and Big Bird too) together as teenagers there. Rabble rousers, the two of you, especially out in the middle. Ah, Beefy. The times he got into dust-ups in pubs, trying to take out everyone in sight after hearing a racial epithet hurled in your direction. Even tried to climb into the stands seething at a yobbo with a coloured mouth once.

You even made me a fan of Jeffrey Archer. Not for his books, just for siring a son who would make a memorable observation about you during the Brixton race riots. Much later I would read Lester Bird, your prime minister, say, "Richards represented that touchstone: he was the embodiment of an opportunity for a whole nation to be galvanised for a single purposeā€¦ he personified what we perceived ourselves to be: young dynamic and talented, but yet unrecognised in the world."

I would read Michael Manley too. And Hilary Beckles. Lap up Bunny Wailer's tales. Bristle and sneer at David Frith for haranguing on about your Rastafari wrist-band. The one Bob Marley gave you. And oh, Bob! You were intertwined in his music irretrievably for me. You were Burnin'. Your every rumble was a Rastaman Vibration. You even shot the sheriff, and his deputies, in 1976.

I spot you now and then these days behind the glass in some pavilion out yonder - hands clasped behind back, the same smouldering eyes - watching your team impassively. Legacy is an oft-misused word in sport. But what you left behind and is being tarnished now is much more than a legacy. If only they would take an iota of it to heart, wonders could ensue.

Enough of that. This is a special day.

It may be mighty presumptuous of me as I say these words. But I still do feel like I am entitled, can still claim to have a stake in you. That first ball you faced in Bangalore under my gaze validates my right to say this. Sixties are nothing to you, Viv. A number you never really cared for. You just go on, you emperor.

Shine on.

Sriram Dayanand is a writer based in Canada

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY vivek464 on | March 9, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    My West Indian Coaches here in the states always tell me, Viv Richards. Great Maan. Their list of batsmen is always: 1. Gavaskar 2. Richards 3. Tendulkar/Lara (Some reason, many don't like Lara). ANywasy, Happy B'Day Viv. Long Live the KIng

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    one of my favourite . many happy returns of the day viv!! no modern batsman can even hold a candle to u!!

  • POSTED BY mamboman on | March 8, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Incomparable. Utterly incomparable. he was mighty in his pomp and he was terrifying in his pomp. Whats often forgotten about him as the spell he had at Queensland in 1976 - flogging a sixer out of the old Gabba onto the roof of the tyre depository across the road. This guy was the real deal and then some, not one of the media confections that pass as great batsmen today.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 8, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    Only Sehwag: NEVER ever compare Sehwag to the Great King..This is highly disrespectful. Sehwag has been dropped out of Indian team- There was Only one real King....The one who conquered all and won over hearts. King Richards did not play for himself but he played for his peaople..He was humble and gracious even in defeats. Sehwag is an over rated flat track, flat footed bully who will be forgotten by 2014.

  • POSTED BY timmyw on | March 8, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    I just commented on an article that was arguing about who was the best modern great. In my opinion, none of them hold a candle to this man. I agree, second to Bradman! Happy birthday Viv, one day I will get your autograph!

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    Remember the times when we'd pray that Kapil Dev did not pick up Haynes' or Greenidge's wicket by fluke so that we'd not have Viv to smash the ball everywhere? I miss those times.

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Evocative! Full of yearning...keep them coming

  • POSTED BY Cool_Jeeves on | March 8, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    Alexander the Conqueror. Nay, Alexander the Emperor. Issac Vivian Alexander Richards.

  • POSTED BY only_sehwag on | March 8, 2012, 1:53 GMT

    only sehwag can come close to Sir Richards !!!

  • POSTED BY rett on | March 8, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    Happy birthday Champ! One aspect of Viv that is rarely noted is his generosity off the field. At an extremely crowded book signing in Sydney he spotted my grandmother waiting in the very long queue. He called her to the front of the line and spent several minutes chatting to her. The Viv poster on her wall assumed an even greater importance after that day.

  • POSTED BY vivek464 on | March 9, 2012, 2:46 GMT

    My West Indian Coaches here in the states always tell me, Viv Richards. Great Maan. Their list of batsmen is always: 1. Gavaskar 2. Richards 3. Tendulkar/Lara (Some reason, many don't like Lara). ANywasy, Happy B'Day Viv. Long Live the KIng

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 16:53 GMT

    one of my favourite . many happy returns of the day viv!! no modern batsman can even hold a candle to u!!

  • POSTED BY mamboman on | March 8, 2012, 10:54 GMT

    Incomparable. Utterly incomparable. he was mighty in his pomp and he was terrifying in his pomp. Whats often forgotten about him as the spell he had at Queensland in 1976 - flogging a sixer out of the old Gabba onto the roof of the tyre depository across the road. This guy was the real deal and then some, not one of the media confections that pass as great batsmen today.

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 8, 2012, 8:38 GMT

    Only Sehwag: NEVER ever compare Sehwag to the Great King..This is highly disrespectful. Sehwag has been dropped out of Indian team- There was Only one real King....The one who conquered all and won over hearts. King Richards did not play for himself but he played for his peaople..He was humble and gracious even in defeats. Sehwag is an over rated flat track, flat footed bully who will be forgotten by 2014.

  • POSTED BY timmyw on | March 8, 2012, 4:59 GMT

    I just commented on an article that was arguing about who was the best modern great. In my opinion, none of them hold a candle to this man. I agree, second to Bradman! Happy birthday Viv, one day I will get your autograph!

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 4:24 GMT

    Remember the times when we'd pray that Kapil Dev did not pick up Haynes' or Greenidge's wicket by fluke so that we'd not have Viv to smash the ball everywhere? I miss those times.

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Evocative! Full of yearning...keep them coming

  • POSTED BY Cool_Jeeves on | March 8, 2012, 2:06 GMT

    Alexander the Conqueror. Nay, Alexander the Emperor. Issac Vivian Alexander Richards.

  • POSTED BY only_sehwag on | March 8, 2012, 1:53 GMT

    only sehwag can come close to Sir Richards !!!

  • POSTED BY rett on | March 8, 2012, 0:27 GMT

    Happy birthday Champ! One aspect of Viv that is rarely noted is his generosity off the field. At an extremely crowded book signing in Sydney he spotted my grandmother waiting in the very long queue. He called her to the front of the line and spent several minutes chatting to her. The Viv poster on her wall assumed an even greater importance after that day.

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2012, 0:09 GMT

    My favorite cricketer of all time. Never post on fb, but will post one for the king. Happy 60 Viv.

  • POSTED BY SagirParkar on | March 7, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    wonderful wonderful piece of writing.. Richards was truly indeed the king.. and best batsman after Bradman.. i agree with Al_Bundy on the point he makes (even though i am a fan of Dravid)...

  • POSTED BY MaruthuDelft on | March 7, 2012, 23:50 GMT

    To put it into context who started watching cricket of late Viv is 2 times better than Tendulkar and Lara and 3 times better than Ponting.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 23:17 GMT

    Viv, you are the one cricketer born on the exact day my Guru left his body AND the nearest cricketer to myself in day of birth. I have always rejoiced that these facts attach to someone so unique and special whose name will be five stars as long as top class cricket is played. And a gentleman too, by all accounts, not a Stanford.

  • POSTED BY Hesh78 on | March 7, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    Great article! Beautifully written. Viv Richards along with Ian Botham embodied the beautiful game.

  • POSTED BY GoldenAsif on | March 7, 2012, 22:50 GMT

    Famous Quotes by Famous Cricketers:

    Imran Khan: 'The genius of my time'

    Colin Croft: 'The 'Muhammad Ali' of cricket'

    Ian Botham: 'I find it very hard to believe that there has ever been a better batsman than Viv'

  • POSTED BY aus_trad on | March 7, 2012, 22:33 GMT

    Viv Richards..where to begin? Firstly something which is probably heresy at the moment: I still rate him the greatest batsman I have seen - yes, greater than Tendulkar. There was something about the way he simply imposed himself on a game, dominated the bowling, that no one else I have seen has done in quite the same way. It's one of thoses cases where the simple statistics (hugely impressive though they are) don't tell the full story. My first memory of Viv was in 1975-56 here in Australia. We won the series 5-1, but a couple of fast bowlers (Roberts and Holding) stood out, and a young batsman who scored a 90-odd and a century in the last 2 tests (Viv, of course). After that, he was always the man to dismiss, even in that star-studded batting lineup. When he was on song (which was most of the time), he just did what he liked with the bowling. I can still see him standing at the crease - erect, scornful, helmetless(!) - dispatching the ball to all parts of the ground. Simply the best!

  • POSTED BY MaruthuDelft on | March 7, 2012, 21:52 GMT

    As a batsman Viv is not the greatest. First Don Bradman or Victor Trumper then Viv. As a cricketer he might be pushed to 5th by Gary Sobers and Dennis Lilly but not by Warne. Sure Lilly is a bowler who would have had endless chances even if you hit him from London to Melbourne but what Lilly brought to cricket the manly confidence is similar to Viv but Lilly has top stats. Viv climbed down from the top gear after 1976-81. Garry Sobers is lesser than Viv as a batsman but still he was a world class batsman and a world class bowler. Others; Jack Hobbs was not explosive enough. Tendulkar is poor and unstylish on the onside. Lara could be destroyed. Warne is just a spinner; spinning cannot be compared with batting. It is difficult to bring Pollock and Barry Richards in here; they didn't play enough; however Victor is exception; from the literature it seams he is so so so special.

  • POSTED BY smudgeon on | March 7, 2012, 21:39 GMT

    My favourite bit in Fire In Babylon is the part which I think which sums up Viv for me: when there's talk about batsmen starting to wear helmets in the 70s, he pretty much says he didn't believe it was necessary - that's why you have a bat. Fearless.

  • POSTED BY Fifthman on | March 7, 2012, 21:36 GMT

    Happy Birthday, Sir Viv. I'm sure you have another century in you...

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 21:34 GMT

    Simply the best, I saw Old Trafford, I saw Trent Bridge there has never been a better batsman....statistics can RIP, VIV was the God of batsman, Happy 60th Birthday.

  • POSTED BY GoldenAsif on | March 7, 2012, 21:28 GMT

    Viv Richards is head and shoulders the greatest batsman of the modern era esp. when it comes to playing and dominating pace bowlers. No one can thrash or intimidate fast bowers like him and we are talking of an era in which there was no restriction on bouncers per batsman per over and no neutral umpires. Gilchrist is the closest to him in that regard. Viv had brilliant reflexes and supreme confidence as exemplified by the fact that he never wore a helmet. I don't need to look at stats to know how great Viv was. To me greatness is about quality not quantity. Having said that Viv probably was n't the best player of spin (Miandad and Lara better than him). And there were/are other batsmen (such as Gavaskar, Miandad, Inzi, Steve Waugh, Kallis) who're probably better players than Viv in pressure situations

  • POSTED BY Beazle on | March 7, 2012, 21:16 GMT

    Yes- the great man is second only to Bradman. Viv terrified all bowlers and was a real matchwinner. I once saw Thomson at his fastest bowling to Viv in early 1976 - wow- that was a clash of the titans !

  • POSTED BY StopSmoking on | March 7, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    Beautiful write up! Long live the King!

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 19:50 GMT

    brilliant... thats the only word i can think of after reading this

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 19:43 GMT

    Sir Viv was indeed a truly, great and charasmatic crickter.

  • POSTED BY KDoc on | March 7, 2012, 19:40 GMT

    Happy Birthday Viv!! You made us West Indians proud !

  • POSTED BY moBlue on | March 7, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    beautiful, sriram! it is a coincidence that - also being from bangalore - i too idolized king richards in the 70s and 80s! his (ghost-written?) autobiography is the only one of a cricketer's that i ever read in those days!!! possibly soon after listening on the BBC radio - we did not have TV in bangalore then - to his mauling of bob willis in the last over of the 1979 world cup en route to snatching the title of "king" from none other than (collis) king on that mindblowing day! ...and yes, i remember being terrified - on that glorious summer day in 1983 - when he went after madan lal and balwinder sandhu dismissively in their paltry chase just before, of all ignominious things, power went out and all of bangalore went dark! by the time the telecast resumed, and we anxiously checked the score to see if viv had finished the game off, IND were about to make history! like you said, aptly, probably the only time in *my* life too that i was happy that the king had sent back to the pavilion!

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 18:17 GMT

    I have not seen Don Bradman bat. But I consider myself extremely lucky to have watched and admired the mighty King Richards. That swagger when he took to the crease chewing his gum is truly 'one and only'. His 56 ball century against England dwarfs any of the fastest centuries that contemporary batsmen have scored. What a treat to watch? Long live the King.

  • POSTED BY Al_Bundy1 on | March 7, 2012, 17:56 GMT

    Can't agree more with @KiwiRocker - Viv Richards was the one and only King of Cricket. Compared to him, Tendulya is a flat track bully who knows only to score against weak opponents, and Dravid is a nightwatchman who will bore you to death with his batting.

  • POSTED BY RohanBhalerao on | March 7, 2012, 16:56 GMT

    Oh....Oh.... Ohhhhh...!

    Once Robin Jackman had this to say to a backfoot punch by Tendulkar in the 2003 World Cup match v/s Pakistan. This is all I have to say after reading this article.

    Mr Sriram Dayanand, you are a GEM, as good as in your craft as Sir Viv was in his..! Need I say more?

  • POSTED BY kentjones on | March 7, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    Happy birthday Vivian Richards the Master Blaster, you will always be remembered and loved.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 16:12 GMT

    @harshthakor: "Viv was not truly tested as he played for arguably the greatest team ever".

    Have you seen who he played against? Great Indian spinners, some fine Aussie pacemen, all-rounders like Imran, Hadlee, Dev, and Botham, and other fine players. He played in an era of longer boundaries and harder pitches to bat on, using bats that didn't have the weight to power balance of today's willow, and still hammered sixes. In my lifetime, he is the undoubted top man with the bat. King Viv, long live the king.

  • POSTED BY naga25french on | March 7, 2012, 15:55 GMT

    One cricketer whom i respect the most ! happy Bday Viv !

  • POSTED BY Vuhb on | March 7, 2012, 15:50 GMT

    Sir Viv Richards, the ultimate cricketer, whose fielding abilities were overshadowed by his batting. Watch Richards hit Imran Khan across the line for a six over midwicket (at Sharjah) and Imran's reaction. And those magnificent sixes over long-off off Geoff Lawson in those big grounds in Australia (when the fence was the boundary not like today). He made me a WI follower even against my home country (India). Viv Richards made me happy!

  • POSTED BY crktcrzy on | March 7, 2012, 15:44 GMT

    I remember watching Richards in an ODI in 1985 in Pakistan. The game was even, the home crowd was jubilant at the fall of a wicket, fancying their chances- until Viv arrived. He made 80 off 40 balls, out of about 115 required to win, and the game was over in a blink. But the figures don't even give a hint of his dominance- he was playing the likes of Imran, Sarfraz, Qadir, Tauseef etc as if ridiculing them-like they were some eager little teens, thinking they could bowl to the most authoritative batsman of all times. Hats off to my all time favorite. We love you Viv. If we could get someone half of your status, cricket would still be the greatest of all games.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 14:49 GMT

    I never saw the great man bat, but he has left an impact even on those who haven't. He was THE BATSMAN.

  • POSTED BY smalishah84 on | March 7, 2012, 14:26 GMT

    One of the greatest cricketing presence of all time. Happy Birthday Viv

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 14:18 GMT

    Happy Birthday to the Master Blaster. You made life bearable for many people with the way you represented yourself and us for that matter to everyone who ever sneered at the colour of our skin. Your legacy lives on to the millions of people you made happy and PROUD.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 14:08 GMT

    I forgot to add, this is probably the best article I have ever read! Great work..

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 14:02 GMT

    Happy birthday to the greatest Cricketer, ever!

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 13:50 GMT

    Happy Earthday Sir Viv. You have done your part and made an outstanding contribution by impacting positively on the consciousness of Caribbean people and black people all over the world, through your brand of cricket and leadership. Blessings!!!

  • POSTED BY jonesy2 on | March 7, 2012, 13:04 GMT

    overrated. warner is better. haha nah viv is a legend, no point comparing eras. happy birthday big mon

  • POSTED BY sandy_bangalore on | March 7, 2012, 12:41 GMT

    Greatest batsman ever. Period! Some of the so called strike bowlers of today(ishant,anderson,cheema,nehra..etc)must thank their stars at not having to bowl to him.

  • POSTED BY SeanoN on | March 7, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    An amazingly stunning piece... well done Sriram... Happy bday Viv...

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    The real god of cricket.Still waiting for the next one to arrive.

  • POSTED BY nawwabsahab on | March 7, 2012, 8:59 GMT

    the real king....the one and only...im privileged to see him bat and field and ball....was a batsman he was...

  • POSTED BY KiwiRocker- on | March 7, 2012, 8:52 GMT

    Happy B'day to King. Please hail the king. There have been walls and self proclaimed Gods but there was only one Sir Viv Richards. I have vivid memories of King merely putting his front foot accross to hit massive sixes to all the big name fast bowlers he faced...It saddens me that beautiful game of cricket has become a joke because of commercial circus like IPL. Pathetic technique players like Suresh Raina, Yuvraj and Sehwag have become the paper lions and kings...All this media hype has devalued cricket. No one can ever be compared to Sir Viv Richards because King had the swagger.I do not care about Tendulya's worthless 17K runs..I do not care about those ODI double centuries on flat Indian tracks with dodgy boundary sizes...My favourite will always be King's 189 in Old Traffor..and that superb 291 in Oval. What made King so special was his grace and sportsman ship! A lasting image in my mind is Wasim Akram hitting King Viv for a Six in final to win and King Richard clapped! Amazing!

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | March 7, 2012, 8:10 GMT

    In full flow Viv' batting resembled a bomber destroying an airbase but it also posessed a unique grace of it's own.Viv was not truly tested as he played for arguably the greatest team ever but I am certain that he would have flourished in any era and performed even better when tested in relatively weaker team like Lara.Overall to me only behind Bradman,Grace Hobbs and Warne as a cricketer and as a batsman overall behind only Bradman and Hobbs.In pure test cricket arguably edged very marginally by Lara and Sobers or even Tendulkar.If he wished Viv could have broken all the modern batting records.From 1976-81,certainly the best after Bradman.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | March 7, 2012, 7:57 GMT

    Arguably Viv Richards was the greatest cricketer of modern times.No batsman ever handled pace bowling better than Viv Richards who displayed the ferocity of a tiger against the likes of Lillee and Imran.Imagine in the Packer era he was in a league even ahead of Barry Richards or Greg Chappell.Viv is the best one day batsmen ever,the best match-winning batsmen of all and overall the best ever West Indian batsmen.No great batsmen could change the complexion of a game to a greater extent.Rather than being termed a' Black Bradman' Viv was an entity by itself.Resembled an emperor when walking to the crease.

    His best efforts were his 189 not out at Old Trafford in 1984 ,153 not out at Melbourne in 1979-80 ,his 170 in 1977 against Australia in World Series Cricket and his 291 at the Oval in 1976.

    Also a great captain who never lost a series.One of the most affable characters to have played the game.

  • POSTED BY ImpartialObserver on | March 7, 2012, 7:52 GMT

    Wonderful piece Sriram. And being a Bangalorean, I too feel terribly proud that Viv MADE HIS DEBUT IN BANGALORE! It's almost as if Bangalore gave the world Viv and not West Indies! At least in that sense, I fully agree with your stake-holding. But you have stiff competition there, maan. And sure enough, I tried to play like Viv, planting the front foot across (albeit, in the nearby Park and with a tennis ball! Not facing up to bowling, but to throwing, as is the case in local cricket in Bangalore) But what can one say of Viv! Plant the front foot forward and across and dare the bowler! Let the ball come anywhere. Off side: cover drive, Straight: cover drive, straight drive, on drive, drive through mid-wicket, or even a glance! Short: go back and square cut or punch, or pull. Bouncer: Hook it off the eyelid! Man! Whaddaplaya! Whaddaplaya! I started liking Sachin just because I felt he used to play like Viv! Even he used to plant his front foot forward and then adjust his shots.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 7:38 GMT

    Undoubtedly the ORIGINAL MASTER BLASTER with flamboyant strokes was really a bowler's night mare throughout his career.

  • POSTED BY doubtingthomas on | March 7, 2012, 7:12 GMT

    Brilliant piece. Hail the one and only one King! You turned the cricket field into a battle ground, and fought with more than just the bat as your sword. Your attitude was the key. Cricket for you was not just a game, but a lot more. And generations of cricketers and cricket fans would remember you for that unmatched display of audacity.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 7:08 GMT

    Nice piece. it really conjured images of the king. What a player and what an advertisement for the game.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 6:33 GMT

    Outstanding cricketer...I dont know anyone who knows cricket and says "I dont like Richards"...

  • POSTED BY unregisteredalien on | March 7, 2012, 5:38 GMT

    Happy birthday Viv!

  • POSTED BY Agnihothra on | March 7, 2012, 5:24 GMT

    WOW Sriram... thats all I can say!!!!

  • POSTED BY SouthPaw on | March 7, 2012, 5:19 GMT

    Super duper accolade to a super duper cricketer! One who *always* dominated the bowling and the opponents. And, before anyone jumps to a conclusion that he was a marauder, no! He was an artist.

    Long live the Emperor!

  • POSTED BY DaisonGarvasis on | March 7, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    Haaaaaa, that is a nice birthday present to the King. Yeah, we all tried to chew gum like him. And whenever he came out to bat against India, we prayed and prayed he didnt do what he normally do. Damn, he sure sent chill through your spine the moment he showed up to take guard - Even before he faced his first ball. Damn.

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | March 7, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    The Lion KING! Long live the KING......! May long rule the KING!

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    I myself still follow Somerset fortunes because of Botham and Richards. And to an extent Worcestershire cricket too.

  • POSTED BY ManjunathMC on | March 7, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    Happy birthday Viv Richards!!!

    Nice article Sriram...

  • POSTED BY RoshanF on | March 7, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    THE most imperious, the most impudent, the most awe-inspiring batsman the game has or ever will see. Not him the records - remember on 291(his highest Test score) against England in his amazing summer of '76 he lazily gave his wicket away to Tony Greig when he could have got 400. With him it was never about the runs that he made but the manner in which he got them. EASILY, repeat EASILY the best batsman after Bradman and 'only' number two because unlike the latter the great Viv did not much care about records.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | March 7, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    Now that is a man - crush! Funnily enough, there is not a word or sentence I would alter!

  • POSTED BY satspeare on | March 7, 2012, 3:06 GMT

    Happy Sixtieth KING VIV - God's Richest Blessing - West Indies Treasure, You !

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    What a fine piece on The King!

  • POSTED BY RadheshTR on | March 7, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Brilliant Article Sriram.. :) Great reading. Agree with almost each and every word you have written. Wishing Sir VIV, the EMPEROR a great life ahead.

  • POSTED BY IndianInnerEdge on | March 7, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    Awesome article-Kudos to the writer. Viv had swagger, panache, the 'Mana'! as an indian teenagers growing up in the 80's we used to imitate the double hi-5, his walk. the swagger, the gum chewing. Perhaps's Viv's gr8test sledge/statement of confidence was when he walked out for the toss with (probably) either the English captain or the captain of some county side-As they exchanged team sheets, the opposing captain was struggling to name who they were playing and who they left out for the game-Viv interjected with "You can play ANYBODY, MAAN!"-Thatz confidence! Just watching Viv walking out to bat, gum chewing, the shoulder roll, the swagger- Awesome! Happy 60th I.V.A.R!

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  • POSTED BY IndianInnerEdge on | March 7, 2012, 2:50 GMT

    Awesome article-Kudos to the writer. Viv had swagger, panache, the 'Mana'! as an indian teenagers growing up in the 80's we used to imitate the double hi-5, his walk. the swagger, the gum chewing. Perhaps's Viv's gr8test sledge/statement of confidence was when he walked out for the toss with (probably) either the English captain or the captain of some county side-As they exchanged team sheets, the opposing captain was struggling to name who they were playing and who they left out for the game-Viv interjected with "You can play ANYBODY, MAAN!"-Thatz confidence! Just watching Viv walking out to bat, gum chewing, the shoulder roll, the swagger- Awesome! Happy 60th I.V.A.R!

  • POSTED BY RadheshTR on | March 7, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Brilliant Article Sriram.. :) Great reading. Agree with almost each and every word you have written. Wishing Sir VIV, the EMPEROR a great life ahead.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 2:58 GMT

    What a fine piece on The King!

  • POSTED BY satspeare on | March 7, 2012, 3:06 GMT

    Happy Sixtieth KING VIV - God's Richest Blessing - West Indies Treasure, You !

  • POSTED BY Meety on | March 7, 2012, 3:27 GMT

    Now that is a man - crush! Funnily enough, there is not a word or sentence I would alter!

  • POSTED BY RoshanF on | March 7, 2012, 4:10 GMT

    THE most imperious, the most impudent, the most awe-inspiring batsman the game has or ever will see. Not him the records - remember on 291(his highest Test score) against England in his amazing summer of '76 he lazily gave his wicket away to Tony Greig when he could have got 400. With him it was never about the runs that he made but the manner in which he got them. EASILY, repeat EASILY the best batsman after Bradman and 'only' number two because unlike the latter the great Viv did not much care about records.

  • POSTED BY ManjunathMC on | March 7, 2012, 4:13 GMT

    Happy birthday Viv Richards!!!

    Nice article Sriram...

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2012, 4:35 GMT

    I myself still follow Somerset fortunes because of Botham and Richards. And to an extent Worcestershire cricket too.

  • POSTED BY Rahul_78 on | March 7, 2012, 4:48 GMT

    The Lion KING! Long live the KING......! May long rule the KING!

  • POSTED BY DaisonGarvasis on | March 7, 2012, 4:53 GMT

    Haaaaaa, that is a nice birthday present to the King. Yeah, we all tried to chew gum like him. And whenever he came out to bat against India, we prayed and prayed he didnt do what he normally do. Damn, he sure sent chill through your spine the moment he showed up to take guard - Even before he faced his first ball. Damn.