On April 15, 1986, Vivian Richards played one of the greatest knocks in the history of Test cricket. It was on this day the legendary West Indies batsman took apart the England attack to score the then fastest Test century, a record that stood for 30 long years.
In today’s day and age where batsmen having an aggressive mindset at all times is par for the course, a 56-ball century would be phenomenal even in a T20 game. But the great Viv Richards achieved this feat in a Test match... that too 34 years ago.
West Indies hosted England for a five-Test series in 1985-’86. After hammering the visitors in the first four Tests, the Windies were keen to complete the clean sweep in Antigua – the hometown of Richards.
Batting first, West Indies rode on opener Desmond Haynes’ ton to post an impressive 474. Joel Garner’s four-for then helped the hosts bowl out England for 310. With a healthy first-innings lead of 164, West Indies were eager for some quick runs to give themselves enough time to bowl England out again and complete the whitewash.
And that’s when Richards decided to play one of the finest ever knocks by a captain.
Walking in at No 3, the right-hander blasted seven fours and as many sixes to remain not-out on 110 off 58 and help his team declare at 246/2. West Indies then bowled out England for 170 to complete a 240-run victory. But for those who saw the contest, the result was secondary as the lasting memory of that match was the genius of Richards.
The sheer disdain with which Richards hit both spinners and fast bowlers to all corners of the park was nothing like the world had ever seen before. England’s attack comprising Ian Botham, Neil Foster, Richard Ellison and John Emburey simply had no answer to the onslaught.
The record Richards set that day for the fastest Test century was finally broken by New Zealand’s Brendon McCullum in 2016.
Fastest Test centuries
|54||BB McCullum||New Zealand v Australia||Christchurch||2015/16|
|56||IVA Richards||West Indies v England||St John's||1985/86|
|56||Misbah-ul-Haq||Pakistan v Australia||Abu Dhabi||2014/15|
|57||AC Gilchrist||Australia v England||Perth||2006/07|
|67||JM Gregory||Australia v South Africa||Johannesburg||1921/22|
|69||S Chanderpaul||West Indies v Australia||Georgetown||2002/03|
|69||DA Warner||Australia v India||Perth||2011/12|
|70||CH Gayle||West Indies v Australia||Perth||2009/10|
|71||RC Fredericks||West Indies v Australia||Perth||1975/76|
|71||C de Grandhomme||New Zealand v West Indies||Wellington||2017/18|
Here are highlights of the iconic innings by Viv Richards:
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