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Viv Richards: West Indies master blaster

Updated on June 20, 2011
Viv Richards bludgeoning the ball over square leg.
Viv Richards bludgeoning the ball over square leg.

Full name: Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards

Date of birth: March 7, 1952

Place of birth: St. John's Antigua

Major teams: West Indies, Combined Islands, Leeward Islands, Glamorgan, Queensland, Somerset

Playing role: Top-order batsman, captain

Other: Coach, commentator

Profile

Known as the "Master Blaster," Sir Vivian Richards is one of five Wisden cricketers of the 20th century. He was one of the most explosive batsmen in Test cricket history and a formidable opponent in any form of the game. Before Brian Lara and Shivnarine Chanderpaul overtook him, the burly Antiguan was the leading West Indies batsman. However, his distinction of never losing a Test series as captain is unlikely to be surpassed.

Viv made his First-class debut for the Combined Islands at age 19. Just three years later, he made his Test debut against India in Bangalore. Early in his career, Viv had attacking intent - a desire to dominate opposing bowling attacks. Even his swagger and his demeanour was one of confidence, purpose and authority.

His gait to the crease was one of a lord amongst cricket peasants. Upon taking his guard, he would look into the bowler's eyes - issuing a challenge non-verbally. Indeed, the great man never had to talk much on the field. He let his body language and his bat do the talking (and he could play shots on both sides of the wicket easily).

Fastest Test century

Sir Vivian
Sir Vivian

The most compelling and exciting batsman in the modern game, Viv Richards played for the West Indies from 1974 to 1991. He took over the captaincy from Clive Lloyd in 1985 and under his leadership West Indies became the most feared team in the world, the irresistible force of the international game. Now, seven years after his retirement from the game, Viv Richards can tell his story without fear or favour for the first time.

 

Although he typically didn't say too much, he could certainly banter with the best talkers. However, he would also hit back with his bat to top it off. This led to some opposing captains prohibiting their bowlers from attempting to sledge the Master Blaster.

In an English County game, seamer Greg Thomas made a witty remark to Viv after Viv played and missed at successive deliveries. Thomas decided to tell Richards what the ball looked like, saying "It's red, round and weighs about five ounces, in case you were wondering." Viv duly hit the next ball out of the ground and told Thomas, "Greg, you know what it looks like, now go and find it."

Viv was not just a blaster, he had class that allowed him to average over 50 in Test matches. Because of his significant talent and batting prowess, he was a well-travelled cricketer. The Master Blaster played in the English County set-up for Glamorgan and Somerset, while he also plied his trade Down Under with Queensland. Altogether, Viv scored an amazing 36 212 First-class runs. A look at Viv's overall batting records gives a clue about his dominance

Viv Richards' batting records

Match type 
Matches
Runs
High score
Average
100s 
50s 
 Tests
121
8540
291
50.23
24 
45 
ODIs
187
6721
189*
47.00
11
45
 First-class
507
36212
322
49.40
114 
162 
List A 
500
16995
189*
41.96
26 
109 
Source: Cricinfo
The Art and Science of Cricket
The Art and Science of Cricket

The Art and Science of Cricket represents the groundbreaking partnership between international cricket coach Bob Woolmer and renowned sports scientist Tim Noakes, who combined their skills to create this one-of-a-kind encyclopedic guide to cricket.

 


Sir Vivian Richards was much more than a former West Indies captain and master batsman who hit the fastest Test century in history (56 balls). He saw himself as an ambassador of the Caribbean. Viv never wore a helmet when he played because he professed that it was war and he was willing to die for his country. Certainly, he was a proud West Indian and a proud man. Matters affecting the West Indies affect Sir Vivian just as much.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda knighted Vivian Richards for his contribution to the game and the West Indies. Whether it's Sir Vivian or Master Blaster, this fellow is a legend of world cricket. After his international cricket career ended in 1991, Richards was around the game still, coaching the West Indies in 1999 and providing international cricket commentary for radio and television. His candour and straightforward approach as a commentator mirrors his no-holds-barred batting in many ways.

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