Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards
March 07, 1952, St John's, Antigua
Also Known As
Sir Viv Richards
Right hand bat
Right arm slow, Right arm offbreak
You knew when he was coming. The outgoing batsman would already have disappeared into the pavilion, and the expectation of what was to follow filled the air. Viv kept you waiting... time to ponder. Then he appeared, sauntering, swaggering, arms windmilling slowly. He would take guard, and then, head tilted back slightly and cudding his gum, he would walk a few paces down the pitch to tap it while looking the bowler in the eye. It was calculated menace and magnificent theatre from arguably the most devastating batsman of all time.
How to bowl to him? Get him to the other end, perhaps. Hold your nerve, do not take what might follow as personal. Occasionally he was vulnerable early on if his desire to dominate overwhelmed him. But he had no weakness until his eyesight infinitesimally but inevitably started to let him down and those eye shots became harder.
His strengths were on the front foot. So far forward could he get that he was able to plant that left foot outside the line of off stump, at once eliminating lbw and creating his own leg stump line from where he would flick bowlers relentlessly through midwicket. Or he might send a similar ball skimming through extra cover. Straighten the ball down the line of the stumps and the bowler stood a chance, but he rarely missed and they ran a terrible risk.
His power was awesome, he hooked devastatingly and never wore a helmet, rocking back from his front-foot base to take the ball from his eyeline in front of square. Occasionally, for no apparent reason, he would block an over in immaculate fashion, seemingly in defensive position before the ball had left the bowler's hand. Then, refreshed, off he would go again.
Mike Selvey October 2004
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