Richard Ernst Levi
January 14, 1988, Johannesburg
Right hand Bat
Right arm Medium
Richard Levi calls himself on Twitter "Part-time fisherman. Full-time human being. Play the odd game of cricket." That sums up as well as anything the freewheeling approach to the game of a player ideally suited to the free-and-easy style of Twenty20 cricket. Particularly in South Africa he had his supporters and detractors who debated his destructive yet inconsistent career and bulky frame.
Levi, a student of the Cape Ivy League schools, represented South Africa in the Under-19 World Cup in 2006, and quickly developed a reputation as a fearsome striker of the new ball, especially in the shortest format. Two Twenty20s into his international career, no one was in doubt of his abilities. In February 2012, opening the innings in South Africa's chase of 174 against New Zealand, Levi plundered 13 sixes - a record - in an unbeaten 117 off 51 balls, at the time the highest score in a T20I. He reached his century off 45 balls, also setting a new record of its day for the fastest ton in Twenty20 internationals. Granted, the Seddon Park in Hamilton isn't the biggest ground, but several of Levi's strikes sailed well past the boundary, and would have been sixes in most arenas.
Hopes that Levi's success could provide South Africa with an exciting long-term replacement for Graeme Smith at the top of the order in the limited-overs formats soon foundered. His weight ballooned, his predominantly legside style did not suit everybody and he was deemed weak against spin: there was an uncultured feel about him, but his destructive qualities were evident.
The IPL, namely Mumbai Indians, came a calling in 2012 and later that year he played T20 for Somerset before beginning a lengthy association with Northants in 2013 and became a dangerous part of a cleverly-assembled side that won England's T20 tournament in 2013 and 2016 and were beaten finalists in 2015. He also found himself turning out in the Championship to help bolster a small and financially-challenged squad, although it did bring him the same pleasure. He signed a Kolpak deal as an English-qualified player in 2014, so ending his South Africa career, but continued to play for the Cobras in limited-overs cricket only in South Africa until 2018.
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