9 October 1998

Richie Richardson: My First Test

by Philip Spooner

Tough Luck Built Up Pluck

We often hear tales of bad umpiring in cricket matches in India.

Well, former West Indies captain Richie Richardson had a full taste in his first Test innings.

Richardson, who led the West Indies from 1992 to 1996, had a rough introduction but he believes it helped him to become a good player.

Richardson was adjudged leg-before-wicket for a "duck" in his first innings against India at the Wankhede Stadium in Bombay in the fourth Test of the six-Test 1983 series. He made 26 in the second innings before he was bowled by Ravi Shastri.

"It was another one of those decisions. The ball hit the middle of the bat and I could not believe the umpire gave me (out)," Richardson said with a smile.

"I remember the occasion well, like if it happened yesterday. The bowler was an off-spinner named Shivlal Yadav and that's what happened.

"Cricket is like that I guess, sometimes these things happen.

"It was a learning experience for me and gave me the toughness needed to perform at the highest level. I have no real regrets about cricket, it did a lot for me."

The occasion was the fourth Test and Richardson was then a fresh-faced 21-year-old on his first international tour.

He entered after Gordon Greenidge was out for 13 but did not last very long.

"I stepped out onto the field, but don't remember getting to the pitch - I was that nervous. There was a large crowd and from the time I was approaching the crease I sort of went dead."

Richardson took the place of Trinidadian Gus Logie, who had a pair in the previous Test at Ahmedabad, and immediately he was slotted in at No. 3, the spot that was occupied by fellow Antiguan Viv Richards.

Richardson's elevation to the team came after a consistent season in the 1983 Shell Shield tournament when he hit centuries off Barbados and Jamaica.

"It was a great feeling to be selected for a Test toury" he said. "The tour was a good one for us: we won the six-Test series 3-0 and also did really well in the One-Day series."

The West Indies, under the captaincy of Clive Lloyd, won at Kanpur, Ahmedabad, Calcutta, while the matches at Bombay, Madras and Delhi were drawn. In the Madras encounter Sunil Gavaskar hit 236 not out after the first day was lost.

Richardson recalled that he received a lot of help from his team-mates when he first entered the team and was made to feel at home.

"The guys were really helpful, and I settled in quite easily. Guys like Desmond (Haynes), Gordon (Greenidge) and all the others gave advice."

The trip to India was a bit of a shock to the Antiguan as he was exposed to a different kind of life and environment which was far removed from the sand, sea and sun of his home.

"I was young then and everything was new to me. The entire lifestyle of the people and almost everything else were different.

"It was a bit tough but I knew I wanted to make a career out of cricket so I stuck it out and gave it my best every time."

Source :: The Barbados Nation (http://www.nationnews.com/)