Born to Play Cricket - Kapil Dev (Sporstar 16 Oct, 1993)

I remember Viv Richards for his different approach to cricket. When he entered international cricket, he was known as a dasher. He could hammer any bowler out of sight and destroy the bowling single-handed. He remained like that till the end of his career. But he did try to change his game when he went down to No. 5 and even No. 6 in the batting order. But it was the No. 3 position which was ideal for him. When he used to come in one drop, every bowler was scared of Viv Richards. His wicket was all that which mattered, the most important. He was the top batsman in the world. I respected him for his awesome abilities, the way he played the game. His approach was to go after the bowlers. The onus was on the bowlers to stop him from destroying them. He dominated the bowlers, whatever their reputation. Sometimes I have seen Viv in trouble against the spinners. But then he would step out and start hitting them. That was his way of getting out of trouble. He would quieten down after hitting a few boundaries. He would have upset the bowler by them. That was his greatest quality I think. Viv was a test cricketer who brought crowds to Test matches. People loved to watch him. Even I loved to watch him bat. For that matter, most of the West Indies batsmen are attractive to watch. They play very hard and that was the way Viv played. His eyesight was tremendous. He was simply outstanding. I am very glad to have played against him. It was an honour really. I always loved to bowl at a batsmen like Viv than say Geoff Boycott. I wanted the batsman to go after me so that I stood some chance of getting him out. I always enjoyed bowling to Viv. There were times when he hit me, but then I also got him out a few times. In the 1983 World Cup Final, I remember two shots he hit off me, picking the ball clean from outside the off stump, and whack- ing them to square-leg. My line was on and outside the off- stump, to get him out with my outswinger. On bothe the occa- sions, I threw my arms up expecting an edge, but only to see the umpire waving his arm to signal a boundary. You can't become a Viv Richards. It took him 15 to 20 years to gain that reputation. You can't have a game like Viv. Such players don't come very often. They keep the game alive. If people like Viv had not come to lift the game, spectators would have stayed away from five-day cricket. A lot of people said that Viv was very arrogant. But I found him a very nice person. He was very easy to talk to. It was difficult in the beginning but over the years, as I came to know him better, I discovered that he was a soft man. He was born to play cricket and nothing else. I feel Viv was a very simple and straight person and like most West Indians, he lived for the day and not tomorrow. In my team, Viv would always be the No. 3 batsman. I have al- ways said that I have only admired G. R. Visvanath but after him I think it was Viv. For his technique, fluency in batting and fielding, Viv was unmatched. Almost everything he did on the field suggested that Viv was born to play cricket. A player of his calibre could have played another couple of years. He was fitter and quicker than most of the younger players I have seen. But it was his decision to quit. I don't think we can see another Viv Richards. We will miss him.