Sir Vivian Richards with the South African team at Sabina Park 2001Photo CricInfo
Yesterday, one of the Caribbean's most celebrated sons and world renowned cricket icon reached another milestone in his wonderful innings of life. Sir IVA Richards, former West Indies captain and world record holder for the fastest Test century turned 50. Sir Viv jokingly said that he was "happy to get there with a single" as opposed to a boundary.
Sir Viv, who started the day in Trinidad with a 30 minute prayer session - which was led by former West Indies faster bowler and current WICB president Rev. Wes Hall and attended by most of his former teammates - spent the better portion of his birthday in the land of his birth, Antigua.
Richards, who was given a rousing welcome upon arrival, was the toast of the island. Speaking in an interview with CricInfo, Sir Viv said that he was "thankful to God", and that he was "ecstatic about all the love and well wishes" that he received via the print and electronic media. Sir Viv also said that "it was good to be among so many greats and starting the day right with a 30 minute prayer session".
Sir Viv, who was in Trinidad attending a WICB sponsored conference aimed at updating and standardizing a coaching manual specifically for the West Indies, said that he felt the sessions were "useful" and that the discussions would bear fruit. Earlier, he once again indicated his willingness to serve West Indies cricket at the highest level. In 1999, the WICB overlooked Richards for the position of coach in favour of Roger Harper, whose contract expires in March 2003, along with the rest of the team's current management staff.
After spending most of the morning at home with his family, and graciously granting several interviews and receiving special birthday wishes from all sectors, Sir Viv said that he planned to spend the rest of the afternoon on the golf course where he "had a score to settle."
Just last weekend the player who had become known as "The Bull" or the "Master Blaster", was honoured by the Anguilla Cricket Development Association at a special function at the Governor's mansion. Speaking during that function, Sir Viv, who during his playing days gave opposing bowlers many a sleepless night, said: "I think it is a remarkable feat to be here and I've always had a pretty love-relationship with the Anguillan people."
"I felt by just walking (around the ground) that the reception that one received it is a sign that the people seriously care about West Indies cricket and the things one did achieve in the past and I'm very grateful to be here and received all the wonderful things they have bestowed on me."
WICB's vice president Val Banks, speaking during the ceremony, said that Sir Viv "epitomizes a love for West Indies that is a motivating force." Banks also went on to state that Sir Viv "embodies the spirit of his native Antiguans, who are some of the Caribbean's most positive people."
Sir Viv is now an ambassador for his native Antigua, and was honoured during a special ceremony at the Antigua Recreation Grounds during the West Indies v Pakistan Test in 2000. Sir Viv represented the West Indies from 1975 to 1991, and captained the West Indies from 1985. Sir Viv, who took over as captain from Clive Lloyd, was succeeded by his fellow Antiguan, Richie Richardson.