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A few questions for Sir Vivian Richard

There were some interesting insights to be gleaned from the interviews: for instance Richards believes it is not the size of bats but shortened boundaries that is hurting the game more. Something for the game’s minders to mull over as this debate rages.

mumbai Updated: Apr 07, 2017 00:05 IST
Ayaz Memon
He has a special affinity with India having made his Test debut here in 1974-75: and particularly Mumbai, though not only because of cricket, which is all too well known. All told, he is a welcome guest and coveted interviewee
He has a special affinity with India having made his Test debut here in 1974-75: and particularly Mumbai, though not only because of cricket, which is all too well known. All told, he is a welcome guest and coveted interviewee(HT file photo)

Sir Viv Richards was in town on Wednesday. His presence could not be missed as every newspaper (that I read) featured an interview with him in their Thursday edition.

The IPL is upon us and renowned former players will, as previous years have shown, fly in and out of the country either on professional cricket assignments (mentoring, commentating, writing etc), or promotional events, which seems to be the case with Richards this time.

He has a special affinity with India having made his Test debut here in 1974-75: and particularly Mumbai, though not only because of cricket, which is all too well known. All told, he is a welcome guest and coveted interviewee.

There were some interesting insights to be gleaned from the interviews: for instance Richards believes it is not the size of bats but shortened boundaries that is hurting the game more. Something for the game’s minders to mull over as this debate rages.

But such gems were few because of the similarity of questions across all the interviews. Most concentrated on Richards’s views about the tension between the Indian and Australian sides in the recent Test series, or in finding out if Virat Kohli is not the best batsman in the world.

These are not inconsequential issues, but not crucial to understanding the current state of cricket. That the India-Australia rivalry has a prickly edge to it is now more than a decade old. The one pertaining to Kohli, must confess, I find banal because of repetitiveness.

It is a leading question, fishing for a particular answer that can then be played up for readers or viewers.

Kohli’s record speaks for itself, and accolades for him have come in a deluge from all quarters. Now, if Richards had a contrarian point of view it would certainly have been more ‘newsy’!

Before Kohli’s rise to eminence, such a question would inevitably be asked about Sachin Tendulkar. I remember speaking to a well-known Australian cricketer some years ago. Before I could toss my first question at him, he smiled, “Tendulkar is the best batsman in the world.’’

He was not being facetious. Rather, seemed fatigued with the monotony of being asked the same question every time he met an Indian. I sensed some of this deja vu creeping into Richards’s responses too.

Is such questioning because of an approval-seeking complex in our national psyche which the media tries to satisfy I wonder. But I’ll leave that for experts to answer.

With cricket going through its most tumultuous and interesting phase in the past half century, a subject as rich as Richards is always worth probing afresh. My desire is whetted.

How did he ready himself for duels with great opponents from other teams like Dennis Lillee, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev, Ian Botham, Abdul Qadir in an era when there was virtually no video footage available for preparations? Did he ever suffer from nerves playing against them?

Why and how, I yearn to know, could the great players of the 1980s (apart from Richards, includes Clive Lloyd, Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Michael Holding, Andy Roberts, Joel Garner, Larry Gomes to name some) have allowed West Indies cricket to slump so badly?

Even with a malfunctioning West Indies Cricket Board, why couldn’t these legendary players have taken up greater responsibility to see that the wonderful legacy of Caribbean cricket was not debilitated to the extent it has?

What was at the core of the Richards swag that is part of cricket folklore? Was it ego, self-confidence, need to prove a point as a coloured man?

What about not wearing a helmet throughout his career, was that self-driven bravado or, in hindsight, foolhardiness?

Particularly after the Phil Hughes tragedy, would he wear one while batting today?

And, aah yes, whom from Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli he rates most highly? Or is there some other Indian batsman he rates even better?

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