Sir Vivian Richards, arguably the most destructive batsman of all time, opined that Test cricket will remain “the universe” to him but T20 cricket has played a role in the survival of the game. “Test match cricket is the universe in my opinion. The youngsters should understand the game at its fullest in terms of Test matches,” said the legendary Antiguan at DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Wednesday where he felicitated some of Mumbai’s senior-most coaches. He added: “T20 cricket may be a shorter version of the game, but the name doesn’t spell differently, it is still cricket. It has given cricket such a new lease of life. There are folks who like Test matches and there are folks, the new clientele, who obviously like T20 cricket.”
Former Mumbai player Vasu Paranjape, who was the BCCI’s national coach in the late 1980s, reminded Richards that he met him during the BSI World Masters tournament in 1995 at Brabourne Stadium where he was introduced to the West Indian great by batting legend Sunil Gavaskar. Paranjape was Gavaskar’s captain at Dadar Union Sporting Club.
Another coach, who was felicitated was Vilas Godbole, the Mumbai under-25 coach. He recalled Richards’ innings he saw at Lords during 1983 World Cup where he scored an unbeaten 95 chasing Australia’s 273. “I remember the way he welcomed Australia’s left arm spinner Tom Hogan into the attack. He came down the track and launched him for a six over mid-off. The very next ball, he played a similar shot which went for a boundary. And one shot which I can never forget is the flat six over covers off Jeff Thomson. He gave himself a bit of room and the ball sailed into the stands. He was just terrific and nobody could match his class,” said Godbole. Asked about whether he can be a good example for youngsters, the coach said: “I tell my boys to follow him blindly because he played cricketing shots. He got his runs quickly without playing fancy shots. He never had to play a reverse sweep. And even today, he would not have felt the need to play that shot as he would have pierced the gap and got the desired result.”
At the function, Richards recalled the 1975-76 tour to Australia where the West Indies lost 1-5. “My father told me that cricket is a gentleman’s game.
However, when I landed in Australia, I discovered the reality. When we went back to Australia (for a Test series) in 1979, we went with a plan to play the way they had played (in 1975-76). They had tested us with quality fast bowling and we gave it back to them in 1979,” he said, recalling West Indies’ first ever series win in Australia