Legendary former West Indies captain Vivian Richards has thrown his support behind the expansion of cricket to non-traditional nations.
The 64-year-old, the symbol of West Indies cricket supremacy during the late 1970s and 80s, said many Asians and the West Indians were now residing in countries like the United States which did not have a rich cricket legacy and it was therefore important that the game was pushed into such markets, reports bdnews24.com.
“The influence of Asians like Indians and Pakistanis is huge in cricket. Despite leaving their country, they want to be part of cricket,” he said, currently in Dubai working as a TV media analyst for the ongoing West Indies-Pakistan series.
“So folks from these countries who live in this part of the world have brought cricket culture here and in the process cricket has spread its wings.”
He added: “Cricket should reach countries which have no cricketing tradition. There are folks from all over the world who love cricket living in America. They have been missing the game after they left home.”
“If it can be brought to America in a big way, there is going to be a wide clientele especially as far as Twenty20 is concerned.”
Only last month, the West Indies and India made history when they played a two-match Twenty20 International series at the Central Broward Regional Park Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, United States.
It represented the first time the two nations had played a bilateral series in North America.
Richards, who never lost a Test series as captain, is also widely considered the most dominant batsman of his era. He plundered 8540 runs in 121 Tests at an average of 50 and 6721 runs from 187 One-Day Internationals at an average of 47.
He was at the forefront of the limited overs revolution, helping the West Indies to win the first two 50-overs World Cups, and emerged as one of the drawing cards for one-day cricket during the 80s.
Richards, who played several One-Days in Sharjah during his time, said the entire United Arab Emirates had been pivotal to cricket development.
“I have been impressed on coming back to the UAE to see not just that stadium in Sharjah but two more in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. For me, Emirates have become sort of huge as far as cricket is concerned,” he pointed out.
“One Day Internationals took off in a big way from Sharjah. The stadiums here will surely lift cricket in the whole of Middle East. Cricket spreads through influence.”
“Other stadiums came up in the UAE mainly due to the influence from Sharjah. Today the UAE has done a world of good for cricket.”