“Viv is the best batsman I have seen against anything and everything. He never looked intimidated. Richard Hadlee in New Zealand, Dennis Lillee in Australia, Abdul Qadir in Pakistan, Bishan Bedi in India. Ian Botham in England. He got runs against anybody and everybody.”
That was Michael Holding, one of those lucky to have a front-row seat for some of the greatest batting the game has seen, describing his teammate Sir Viv Richards.
Richards, who did not like to wear a helmet even while facing up to the fastest and meanest fast bowlers of his generation, never looked intimidated. Richards had a way about him, even when he was just ambling around the crease. Richards, was a batsman like no other.
Surely you have heard your parents or grandparents say “Viv is the greatest.” Surely you have heard that uncle or aunt of yours scoff at you when you admire Virat Kohli or Chris Gayle or AB de Villiers: “Kid, have you ever seen Richards bat?”
Well, there is a reason for that.
For many who were not lucky enough to have seen the West Indies legend at his belligerent best, the internet has provided the opportunity to find out just how surreal it was to see him wield the bat.
Viv Richards in Australia 1979-'80
|The Frank Worrell Trophy (West Indies in Australia), 1979/80||3||4||386||140||96.50||1||3|
When Richards was in the mood, footwork did not matter. He stood, he delivered. Even against the likes of Dennis Lillee.
Imagine running in as a fast bowler, with a long run-up, only to see the ball disappear behind you before you even finish the follow through.
Richard Hadlee. One of the greatest pacers the game has seen. But does Richards care?
Hitting a fast bowler for a six with the flick of the wrists is common in the T20 era but this man made it look effortless way back when.
“That’s a magnificent stroke,” says the commentator below but really, that feels like an understatement.
In response to this magnificent clip below, Mark Waugh — who knows a thing or two about classy batting — had this to tweet: “No disrespect to the classy slazengers sticks Viv used like myself and the quality modern day ball strikers but how far would Viv hit it these days. #topoffthetree.”
By the end of his glorious ODI career, Richards had made three 150+ scores (and a 149 against India) and won 31 player-of-the-match awards in just 187 matches. Every now and then someone asks the question: how good would Viv Richards be in the T20 era? When you look at these clips, you cannot help but think he would rule the format.
And finally, what is unarguably one of the greatest ODI innings ever played.
From 166/9, Richards and Michael Holding put on an unbeaten stand of 106 runs for the last wicket (which is the highest 10th wicket partnership in ODIs to date) to help West Indies finish with 272/9 in their quota of 55 overs. While Holding remained not-out on 12 off 27 balls, Richards ended up with 189 runs off just 170 deliveries.
And, at the end of this all, if you are thinking: well, Richards was lucky to never run into the West Indies fast bowlers who were the dominant attack of that era right? But allow Michael Holding to answer that: “He destroyed a lot of bowlers in the Caribbean. He didn’t have to play against four West Indies bowlers at once but he played against us [domestically] and he got runs against each team.”
Simply put, Viv Richards was, is and will quite possibly remain, the king of swagger...as he showed here with this six when he was a 36-year-old coming to the end of his career.