Sir Viv Richards, former West Indies captain, was a great cricketer. He is regarded as the best one-day cricketer of the last century and one of the five best cricketers of all time.
He scored 8540 runs in 182 innings of his 121 Test matches at a decent average of 50.23. He has to his credit 6721 runs in 187 ODIs at an excellent average of 47. These are outstanding numbers in any era. But if we see the type of bowling units which teams had at the time when Richards was playing it convinces us that his achievements have been great. But he was a cricketer whose impact on the game was greater than his figures show. He revolutionised the art of batting. When he came onto the crease even the most ruthless bowlers would lose their courage.
His style suited one-day cricket. But his achievements in Test cricket are also phenomenal.
He is here in Karachi working as the mentor of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Quetta Gladiators.
Richards, who won 27 matches and lost only eight out of the 50 Test matches in which he led the West Indies, spoke to ‘The News on Sunday’ (TNS) in an exclusive interview here the other day. Various subjects, including the forthcoming ICC One-day World Cup to be held in England, came under discussion. Some of the excerpts of his interview are given below.
TNS: Which nation in your opinion has a solid chance of winning the ICC World Cup?
Richards: I believe that all the teams who are playing in World Cup, especially, when you take some examples from the Champions Trophy in England so, India, I think, have been successful over the years. Pakistan came and showed and certainly there have been some promise as they beat some of the best teams in the world. So there are a lot of teams. West Indies started to show some good promise. England always have a good one-day team. They always have a good team but due to some reasons never came to the finish line. Australia must be respected. You also have New Zealand who could be a dark horse. There are about four or five teams that have the capability to win.
TNS: What are Pakistan’s chances? Since winning Champions Trophy in England they have been inconsistent in one-day cricket.
Richards: Before they won the Champions Trophy they were inconsistent as well. It goes to show you that if these guys play together as a unit they have the talent to do well. And I find that the bowling unit of Pakistan is very good. If the batsmen perform to the best of their abilities I believe Pakistan has a chance as good as any.
TNS: Can emerging Afghanistan pull off an upset?
Richards: You never know! They have got some very good bowlers. They have Mohammad Nabi who was in the PSL with Quetta Gladiators and they have Rashid Khan, the leg-spinner. They have got some good enough cricketers. These high-profile guys are spreading the word of game and that is most important for Afghanistan.
TNS: Is decision of Pakistan national selectors to rest key players for the five-match one-day series against Australia correct when World Cup is just two and a half months away?
Richards: Pakistani players over the years have not been able to play at home. They have been playing away from home for a very long time. Sometimes boys can be burnt out. If you look at the bigger picture and the bigger picture would certainly be World Cup your best players need some rest. And if you can have them feel refreshed . . . and certainly that is not a bad idea in my opinion. This also opens the doors to a lot more players with the same sort of abilities to even push some of the players who are being rested. It is not the best team which you put out on the field every time. You also need strength in you back-up unit.
TNS: What do you expect from the West Indies who last won World Cup 39 years ago?
Richards: West Indies just started to show some form. We beat England in the ODIs. One should never count West Indies out.
TNS: What role you feel spinners can play in England conditions?
Richards: If it is going to be a good summer, I think, at one point I never even felt that spinners would play a part in one-day cricket, more so in T20 cricket. Some spinners can be quite useful like Rashid Khan of Afghanistan. All other spinners from around the world . . . In my opinion they are the mystery guys in the game. And a good leg-spinner is always a substance for a team.
TNS: Is PSL contributing to the growth of cricket in Pakistan?
Richards: PSL is a very good tournament and highly competitive. It attracts some of the best players from around the world. And to me having all these players around – who have done it in the IPL and Big Bash – it does help the product of the PSL. PSL is a good foundation for Pakistani players to move forward and to become internationally known. That is a great platform for the Pakistani players.
TNS: What do youth think about the potential of the young quick Mohammad Hasnain?
Richards: At that particular age it is marvellous to have such a talent. I think maybe because of his performance in PSL, Pakistan would have picked him. To me it is a tournament which gives opportunity to batsmen and bowlers and this is important.
TNS: Is so much T20 cricket damaging Test cricket?
Richards: Test match cricket being played in England and Australia like the Ashes, is good. I believe the revenues from T20 cricket can help to subsidise Test match cricket. T20 cricket in my opinion may be exciting it does not give anyone an opportunity to express himself in the right way. But they do compensate for one another.
TNS: Is Pakistan now ready for hosting international cricket?
Richards: Cricket coming back to Pakistan is a slow process. When you look at the support and you can see that cricket lovers in Pakistan appreciate cricket from what you have seen from matches so far in the PSL. Pakistan is a next home to foreign teams. The people love the game which you have seen here . . . sends the message that international cricket needs to be back here. Nothing is wrong with international cricket coming back in Pakistan.