Viv Richards

Shane Warne Clive Lloyd Desmond Haynes

Viv Richards
Vivian richards crop.jpg
Photograph of Richards in New York, 2005
Personal information
Full nameIsaac Vivian Alexander Richards
Born (1952-03-07) 7 March 1952 (age 68)
St. John's, British Leeward Islands
NicknameMaster Blaster[1]
Height5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
BowlingRight-arm slow seam
Right-arm off-break
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 151)22 November 1974 v India
Last Test8 August 1991 v England
ODI debut (cap 14)7 June 1975 v Sri Lanka
Last ODI27 May 1991 v England
Domestic team information
1971–1981Combined Islands
1971–1991Leeward Islands
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 121 187 507 500
Runs scored 8,540 6,721 36,212 16,995
Batting average 50.23 47.00 49.40 41.96
100s/50s 24/45 11/45 114/162 26/109
Top score 291 189* 322 189*
Balls bowled 5,170 5,644 23,226 12,214
Wickets 32 118 223 290
Bowling average 61.37 35.83 45.15 30.59
5 wickets in innings 0 2 1 3
10 wickets in match 0 0 0 0
Best bowling 2/17 6/41 5/88 6/24
Catches/stumpings 122/– 100/– 464/1 238/–
Source: CricInfo, 18 August 2007

Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, KNH, OBE (born 7 March 1952) is an Antiguan retired cricketer, who represented the West Indies at Test and international levels. He is regarded as one of the greatest batsmen of all time.[2][3][4][5] In December 2002, he was chosen by Wisden as the greatest ODI batsman of all time, as well as the third greatest Test batsman of all time, after Sir Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar.[6] Richards was voted one of the five Cricketers of the Century by a 100-member panel of experts in 2000, along with Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Shane Warne. He is also the mentor of T20 team Quetta Gladiators in Pakistan Super League.

In one-day cricket, Richards was judged by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack to have played the best One Day International (ODI) innings of all time.[7] His consistent batting ability resulted in him becoming the first cricketer in ODI history to achieve 20 Man of the Match awards.

Overall, Richards scored 8,540 runs in 121 Test matches at an average of 50.23, including 24 centuries. As a captain, he won 27 of 50 Test matches and lost only 8. He also scored nearly 7,000 runs in One Day Internationals and more than 36,000 in first-class cricket. Knighted for his contributions to cricket, today Richards is an occasional cricket commentator and team mentor.

In 2009, Richards was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.[8]

Early life

Richards was born to Malcolm and Gretel Richards in St. John's, Antigua, then part of the British Leeward Islands. He attended St. John's Boys Primary School and then Antigua Grammar Secondary School on a scholarship.[9]

Richards discovered cricket at a young age. His brothers, Mervyn and Donald, both played the game, representing Antigua as amateurs, and they encouraged him to play. The young Viv initially practised with his father and Pat Evanson, a neighbour and family friend, who had captained the Antigua side.[10]

Richards left school aged 18, and worked at D'Arcy's Bar and Restaurant in St. John's. He joined St. John's Cricket Club and the owner of the restaurant where he worked, D'Arcy Williams, provided him with new whites, gloves, pads and a bat. After a few seasons with St. John's C.C., he joined Rising Sun Cricket Club, where he remained until his departure to play abroad.[11]

Cricket career

Richards made his first-class debut in January 1972 when he was 19.[12] He took part in a non-competition match, representing the Leeward Islands against the Windwards: Richards made 20 and 26.[13] His competitive debut followed a few days later. Playing in the domestic West Indian Shell Shield for the Combined Leeward and Windward Islands in Kingston, Jamaica versus Jamaica, he scored 15 and 32, top-scoring in the second innings in a heavy defeat for his side.[14]

By the time Richards was 22, he had played matches in the Antigua, Leeward Islands and Combined Islands tournaments. In 1973, his abilities were noticed by Len Creed, Vice Chairman at Somerset, who was in Antigua at the time as part of a West Country touring side.[15]

Move to England, 1973–1974

Richards relocated to the United Kingdom, where Creed arranged for him to play league cricket for Lansdown C.C. in Bath. He made his Lansdown debut, as part of the second XI, at Weston-super-Mare on 26 April 1973. Richards was also employed by the club as assistant groundsman to head groundsman, John Heyward, to allow him some financial independence until his career was established. After his debut he was promoted to the first team where he was introduced to the Lansdown all-rounder "Shandy" Perera from Ceylon (now Sri Lanka). Richards cites Perera as a major influence on his cricket development especially with regards to post-game analysis. He finished his first season at Lansdown top of the batting averages and shortly afterwards was offered a two-year contract with county side Somerset.[15]

Richards then moved to Taunton in 1974 in preparation for his professional debut with Somerset CCC where he was assigned living accommodation by the club; a flat-share with two other county players: Ian Botham and Dennis Breakwell. On 27 April 1974 Richards made his Benson & Hedges Cup debut for Somerset against Glamorgan in Swansea; after the game Somerset skipper Brian Close arranged a player's ovation for Richards in recognition of his playing and contribution to the victory. Richards was awarded Man of the Match.[15][16]

Test debut to international stardom, 1975–1984

Richards made his Test match debut for the West Indian cricket team in 1974 against India in Bangalore. He made an unbeaten 192 in the second Test of the same series in New Delhi. The West Indies saw him as a strong opener and he kept his profile up in the early years of his promising career.

In 1975 Richards helped the West Indies to win the inaugural Cricket World Cup final, a feat he later described as the most memorable of his career.[17] He starred in the field, running out Alan Turner, Ian Chappell and Greg Chappell. The West Indies were again able to win the following World Cup in 1979, thanks to a Richards century in the final at Lord's, and Richards believes that on both occasions, despite internal island divisions, the Caribbean came together.[18] He was until 2005 the only man to score a century and take 5 wickets in the same one-day international, against New Zealand at Dunedin in 1986–87. He rescued his side from a perilous position at Old Trafford in 1984 and, in partnership with Michael Holding, smashed 189 to win the game off his own bat.

1976 was perhaps Richards' finest year: he scored 1710 runs, at an astonishing average of 90.00, with seven centuries in 11 Tests. This achievement is all the more remarkable considering he missed the second Test at Lord's after contracting glandular fever; yet he returned to score his career-best 291 at the Oval later in the summer. This tally stood as the world record for most Test runs by a batsman in a single calendar year for 30 years until broken by Mohammad Yousuf of Pakistan on 30 November 2006.

Richards had a long and successful career in the County Championship in England, playing for many years for Somerset. In 1983, the team won the NatWest Trophy, with Richards and close friend Ian Botham having a playful slugging match in the final few overs.

Richards refused a "blank-cheque" offer to play for a rebel West Indies squad in South Africa during the Apartheid era in 1983, and again in 1984.

West Indies captain, 1984–1991

Richards captained the West Indies in 50 Test matches from 1984 to 1991. He is the only West Indies captain never to lose a Test series, and it is said that his fierce will to win contributed to this achievement. His captaincy was, however, not without controversy: one incident was his aggressive, "finger-flapping" appeal leading to the incorrect dismissal of England batsman Rob Bailey in the Barbados Test in 1990, which was described by Wisden as "at best undignified and unsightly. At worst, it was calculated gamesmanship".[19] This behaviour would nowadays be penalised according to Section 2.5. of the Rules of Conduct of the ICC Code of Conduct.[20]

During a match against Zimbabwe during the 1983 Cricket World Cup, Richards returned to the crease after a stoppage for bad light and accidentally took strike at the wrong end, which remains a very rare occurrence.[21]

However, despite his totemic presence at Somerset, over time his performances declined as he devoted most of his time to international cricket. The county finished bottom of the County Championship in 1985, and next to bottom in 1986. New team captain Peter Roebuck became the centre of a major controversy when he was instrumental in the county's decision not to renew the contracts of Richards and compatriot Joel Garner for the 1987 season, whose runs and wickets had brought the county much success in the previous eight years. Somerset proposed to replace the pair with New Zealand batsman Martin Crowe. Consequently, Ian Botham refused a new contract with Somerset in protest at the way his friends Richards and Garner had been treated and he promptly joined Worcestershire. After many years of bitterness over the event and the eventual removal of Roebuck from the club, Richards was eventually honoured with the naming of a set of entrance gates and a stand after him at the County Ground, Taunton.

After his sacking from Somerset, Richards spent the 1987 season in the Lancashire League playing as Rishton CC's professional,[22] in preparation for the West Indies tour the following season. Richards returned to county cricket for the 1990 season towards the end of his career to play for Glamorgan, helping them to win the AXA Sunday League in 1993.

After cricket

Richards being interviewed after a cricket match in 2006

Richards is a commentator on BBC's Test Match Special (TMS).[23] He was featured in the 2010 documentary movie Fire in Babylon and spoke about his experiences playing for the West Indies. He joined the Delhi Daredevils as their mentor in The Indian Premier League in 2013, and also mentored the Quetta Gladiators in the 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 Pakistan Super League.[24]

Personality and playing style

Quiet and self-contained away from the pitch,[1] Richards was a very powerful right-handed batsman with an extremely attacking style, "possibly the most destructive batsman the sport has ever seen".[1] He was also an excellent fielder and a more than competent off-spin bowler. He is often regarded as the most physically devastating and exciting batsman that ever played the game by cricketers, journalists, fans and others alike,[25][26] and played his entire 17-year career without a helmet.[25][26][27]

His fearless and aggressive style of play, and relaxed but determined demeanor made him a great crowd favourite and an intimidating prospect for opposition bowlers all over the world. The word "swagger" is frequently used to describe his batting style.[1][28][29] His batting often completely dominated opposing bowlers.[28][29] He had the ability to drive good-length balls from outside off-stump through midwicket, his trademark shot, and was one of the great exponents of the hook shot.[30]

Viv Richards was notorious for punishing bowlers that dared to sledge him.[citation needed] So much so, that many opposing captains banned their players from the practice.[citation needed] However playing for Somerset in a county game against Glamorgan, Greg Thomas attempted to sledge Richards after he had played and missed at several balls in a row. He sarcastically informed Richards: "It's red, round and it's about five ounces, in case you were wondering." Richards then hammered the next delivery for 6, straight out of the stadium and into a nearby river. Turning back to the bowler, he commented: "You know what it looks like, now go and find it."[31]

Hitting Across the Line

In 1991, Richards published his autobiography entitled Hitting Across the Line. In the book, Richards describes how his whole life revolved around sports, cricket in particular. Of special interest is his technique, expressed by the title of the book. To hit across the line of the ball is considered taboo, and dangerously risky. However, Richards' explanation of the conditions in which he played cricket in Antigua as a child, explains how this technique came to be.

Legacy and achievements

Richards remains one of only four non-English cricketers to have scored 100 first-class centuries, the others being Australian Donald Bradman, New Zealander Glenn Turner and Pakistani Zaheer Abbas.[32]

He was chosen as a Wisden Cricketer of the Year for 1977. In 2000, Richards was named by a 100-member panel of experts one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century. He received 25 votes, behind Sir Donald Bradman (100 votes), Sir Garfield Sobers (90 votes), Sir Jack Hobbs (30 votes) and Shane Warne (27 votes).

Place in cricket history

In 2000, Richards was named one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century, coming fifth behind Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Shane Warne in the poll of 100 international cricket experts appointed by Wisden Cricketers' Almanack.[33]

Several prominent personalities including former cricketer Imran Khan and writer John Birmingham are of the opinion that Richards was the best ever batsman against genuine fast bowling.[28][34] For Barry Richards, Ravi Shastri and Neil Fairbrother, he has been cited as the best batsman they personally witnessed.[35][36][37] Wasim Akram rates Richards the greatest batsman he ever bowled to, ahead of Sunil Gavaskar and Martin Crowe.[38] Crowe himself rated Richards as the best batsman he played against, along with Greg Chappell.[39] Arguably the two greatest spinners ever, Muthiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne both idolize Richards. Murali idolized Richards in his years growing up, while Warne rates him the greatest batsman "for me", and overall just after Bradman.[40]

The ICC has produced rankings for batsmen and bowlers for both the longer and shorter versions. In the ratings for Test Cricket, Richards holds the equal seventh highest peak rating (938), after Sir Donald Bradman (961), Steve Smith (947), Sir Len Hutton, Sir Jack Hobbs, Ricky Ponting and Peter May.[41] The ODI ratings placed Richards in 1st followed by Zaheer Abbas and Greg Chappell.[42] He topped the rankings at the end of the years 1976, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1986.

He was voted the greatest cricketer since 1970 in a poll, ahead of Ian Botham and Shane Warne.[43] That poll saw both Botham and Warne vote for Richards, and in the opinions of both, Richards is the greatest batsman they ever saw. In 2006, in a study done by a team of ESPN's Cricinfo magazine, Richards was again chosen the greatest ODI Batsman ever.[44] Former cricketer Derek Pringle also rates Richards to be the best batsman ever in the history of Limited Overs Cricket.[45]

To mark 150 years of the Cricketers' Almanack, Wisden named him in an all-time Test World XI.[46]

Statistical summary

Richards' Test career batting chart

In his Test career, he scored 8,540 runs in 121 Test matches at an average of 50.23 (including 24 centuries). Richards also scored 5 centuries in World Series Cricket between 1977–79. These are not recognised by the ICC as "official" Test centuries. Richards won 27 of 50 matches as a Test captain, and lost only 8. He is also the scorer of the equal second fastest-ever Test century, from just 56 balls against England in Antigua during the 1986 tour.[47] He hit 84 sixes in Test cricket. His highest innings of 291 is equal seventh (along with Ramnaresh Sarwan) on the list of West Indies' highest individual scores.[48]

International records


The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in 2012

In 1994, Richards was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to cricket.[59] In 1999, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Nation (KCN) by his native country Antigua and Barbuda.[60] In 2006, he was upgraded to Antigua and Barbuda highest award, Knight of the Order of the National Hero (KNH).

The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in North Sound, Antigua, is named in his honour. It was built for use in the 2007 Cricket World Cup. The ground has hosted three Test matches, as well as a number of One-Day Internationals and T20 Internationals.[61][62][63]

The Richards–Botham Trophy, replacing the Wisden Trophy for winners of West Indies–England Test series, is named in honour of Richards and Sir Ian Botham.[64]


Some writers contend that Richards also played international football for Antigua and Barbuda, appearing in qualifying matches for the 1974 World Cup.[65][66] However, he does not appear in recorded line-ups for these matches.[67]

Personal life

Richards and his wife Miriam have two children, including Mali, who has also played first-class cricket. Richards is also godfather to Ian Botham's son, Liam.[68][69]

Richards had a brief relationship with Indian actress Neena Gupta,[70] with whom he has a daughter, fashion designer Masaba Gupta.[71][72]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "Sir Viv Richards at 60: Former team-mates on West Indies legend". BBC Sport.
  2. ^ "Stats from the Past: The best ODI batsmen from across eras | Highlights | Cricinfo Magazine". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  3. ^ "Stats analysis: Viv Richards | Specials | Cricinfo Magazine". ESPN Cricinfo. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  4. ^ "Viv Richards- The greatest ODI batsman of all time". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  5. ^ Featured Columnist (13 November 2013). "The ICC Ranking System's Top 10 Batsmen in ODI Cricket History". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  6. ^ "Tendulkar second-best ever: Wisden". 14 December 2002. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  7. ^ "Richards, Gilmour top Wisden ODI list". 15 February 2002. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  8. ^ Cricinfo (2 January 2009). "ICC and FICA launch Cricket Hall of Fame". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  9. ^ McDonald (1984), pp. 25–6.
  10. ^ Richards (1982), pp. 22–3.
  11. ^ McDonald (1984), pp. 32–3.
  12. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive".
  13. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive".
  14. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive".
  15. ^ a b c Viv Richards by Vivian Richards and David Foot. First Published 1979 by World's Work Ltd (UK). ISBN 978-0-437-14470-6.
  16. ^ Viv Richards Somerset Debut – 27 April 1974 at Cricinfo. Retrieved 28 September 2015.
  17. ^ "Your chance to ask West Indies legend Sir Viv Richards a question to be aired on Inside Cricket". Fox Sports. 14 December 2012.
  18. ^ Croft quizzes Richards BBC online.
  19. ^ "Cricinfo – Within the laws but against the spirit". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  20. ^ [1] Archived 12 July 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Martin-Jenkins, p. 68.
  22. ^ "Rishton Professionals". Nigel Stockley and CricketArchive. 2009. Retrieved 16 January 2010.
  23. ^ "BBC News, 1 November 2006". BBC News. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  24. ^ "Vivian Richards to mentor Quetta Gladiators". The Express Tribune. 31 December 2015.
  25. ^ a b "Player Profile: Sir Viv Richards". Cricinfo. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  26. ^ a b "Five cricketers of the century: Sir Vivian Richards". Wisden. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  27. ^ Daffey, Paul (1 January 2005). "The Ten". The Age. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  28. ^ a b c Birmingham, John. "Viv Richards: bowler killer". Cricinfo. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  29. ^ a b Cricinfo – Emperor, empowerer Archived 3 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  30. ^ Choudhury, Chandrahas (19 September 2004). "Playing hooky". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 16 January 2013.
  31. ^ Charles, Chris (15 July 2003). "Lighter examples of sledging – BBC Sport". BBC News. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 December 2012. Retrieved 3 January 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ "Wisden – Five cricketers of the century". Cricinfo.
  34. ^ Khan, Imran (October 1993). "Richards The Perfectionist – A Genius of His Generation". Pakistani Cricketer. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  35. ^ Manjrekar, Sanjay (18 November 2006). "Lara the greatest among his peers". Cricinfo. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  36. ^ "Gilchrist is the best batsman in the world". 18 March 2003. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  37. ^ Brett, Oliver (13 November 2003). "Who is the greatest?". BBC Sport. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  38. ^ "My Sport: Wasim Akram". Daily Telegraph. London. 7 September 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  39. ^ "My Sport: Martin Crowe". Daily Telegraph. London. 1 June 2004. Retrieved 22 September 2009.
  40. ^ "Murali, Viv and Shane, three of the best". The Roar. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  41. ^ "Reliance ICC Player Rankings". Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  42. ^ "Reliance ICC Player Rankings". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  43. ^ "Viv Richards, Bob Harris: ''Sir Vivian: The Definitive Autobiography'', 2000". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  44. ^ "Cricinfo – "Is Vivian Richards the most effective ODI player?"". Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  45. ^ Pringle, Derek (28 June 2004). "Richards tops wish list of one-day icons". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  46. ^ "WG Grace and Shane Warne in Wisden all-time World Test XI". BBC. 23 October 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2019.
  47. ^ "Test matches – Batting records – Fastest hundreds". ESPNCricinfo. Retrieved 20 February 2016.
  48. ^ "Records – Test matches – Batting records – Most runs in an innings – ESPN Cricinfo". Cricinfo.
  49. ^ "Records | Test matches | Batting records | Highest strike rate in an innings | ESPN Cricinfo". Cricinfo. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  50. ^ Baker, By Andrew. "Sir Viv Richards smashes fastest century in Test match history". Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  51. ^ "Records | Test matches | Batting records | Fastest hundreds | ESPN Cricinfo". Cricinfo. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  52. ^ "McCullum scores fastest hundred in Test history". Cricinfo. Retrieved 30 August 2017.
  53. ^ "Records | One-Day Internationals | Batting records | Fastest to 1000 runs | ESPN Cricinfo". Cricinfo. Retrieved 23 February 2017.
  54. ^ "Records | One-Day Internationals | Partnership records | Highest partnerships by wicket | ESPN Cricinfo". Cricinfo. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
  55. ^ "Highest ODI scores at each batting position". cricinfo.
  56. ^ "A fifty and fifer in an ODI innings". cricinfo.
  57. ^ "A century and fifer in an ODI innings". cricinfo.
  58. ^ "1000 runs & 50 wickets in ODI career". cricinfo.
  59. ^ List of the awards The Herald (Glasgow, Scotland), from the archive, 11 June 1994.
  60. ^ "Antiguan government bestows knighthood on Vivian Richards (4 January 1999)". ESPN Sports Media Ltd. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  61. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive".
  62. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive".
  63. ^ "The Home of CricketArchive".
  64. ^ "England v West Indies: Richards-Botham Trophy to replace Wisden Trophy". BBC Sport. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  65. ^ "Master blaster". London: Guardian Limited. 3 June 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2007.
  66. ^ "Off-side – a cricketing XI that made strides in football". International Cricket Council. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
  67. ^ Courtney, Barrie (23 March 2003). "Antigua and Barbuda – Details of World Cup Qualifiers". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  68. ^ Sir Viv Richards at 60 by Ian Botham. Daily Mirror Newspaper (UK). Published 7 March 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  69. ^ Cricket's Babe Ruth – Sports Illustrated. Article: Clive Gammon. Published 27 October 1986. Retrieved 19 June 2013.
  70. ^ Vimla Patil Saans: A breath of fresh air. The Tribune (India). 28 February 1999
  71. ^ "Viva Richards". 24 November 2002. Retrieved 7 August 2014.
  72. ^ Nandakumar Marar Sania is an icon for Indian sport: Masaba The Hindu – 24 February 2005