Sir Vivian Richards is one of the most fearsome batsmen the game of cricket has ever seen. Hailing from Antigua, the former swashbuckling batsman holds countless records to his credit, including being named in the past as the greatest ever ODI batsman, and the third greatest Test batsman of all time after Sir Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar. The humble 67-year old gave an interview to Dhaka Tribune in the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the World Cup 2019 in London Wednesday where he spoke about the game’s changes over the years and Bangladesh’s prospects, among other topics. Here are the excerpts:
You played the very first World Cup back in 1975. Now it’s 2019. Cricket has changed a lot since then. What do you think has been the biggest change in the game so far?
I think the fielding. The batting, bowling seems all the same to me. But it is the fielding that has changed drastically compared to our times. We only had a few players in the whole team in the past who were good fielders. But now every player in the side are very good fielders. All the players of the current teams have the competitiveness to become a great fielder. That’s a massive change.
Don’t you think batting has changed a lot as well?
I guess when you are playing in smaller boundaries, that does help. That’s a plus point (smiles). I guess the bowlers compared to yesterday, they are totally different. When you have 65-yard boundaries, that’s a licence in my opinion for batsmen to have a great time out there.
How many sixes could you have smashed in 65 yards?
I will not put myself in that position. But this is what the folks want in terms of the excitement about the game. But I just believe sometimes the boundaries could be extended so that every bowler can get an opportunity for him to perform well as well.
How you are considering Bangladesh as a team in this World Cup?
Bangladesh are blessed with some enormous talents. Their batsmen are as good as any other team. They are an emerging cricketing country. And the passion that I can see, I believe it will get better and better in future.
Bangladesh have beaten the West Indies team three times in a row in the last few weeks. The West Indies are a team who have became world champion twice. And such performance from Bangladesh against the Windies means “confidence” in my opinion. Bangladesh are a confident team now. But apart from the West Indies, they have to beat some of the best teams of the world in this World Cup. If Bangladesh can accomplish that then that would be a plus for them.
You are considered one of the greatest batsmen of all time. Do you regret not playing T20 cricket?
Not really. It’s nice to see how the game has developed these days. I had an opportunity to spend some time in the Pakistan Super League for Quetta Gladiators. It was a great experience. But as a cricket fan, and a lover of good batsmanship I do appreciate seeing things what I am seeing in the present. As a lover of the game, I am happy about the direction cricket is heading.
How do you rate the Windies side, boasting some great power hitters like Chris Gayle, Andre Russell, Shimron Hetmyer and Nicholas Pooran?
I never ever count them out. Even though we have not been in the best of times as a team, you never count any team out in this World Cup. It’s a limited-overs match. Anything can happen. It’s an opportunity for the Windies players to rise to the occasion. Some players may not get another chance to play another World Cup. So they need to take the chance with both hands.
You are involved in franchise cricket coaching these days. If you get an offer to work in the BPL in Bangladesh, will you take it up?
I had an opportunity to work in BPL previously. It was Tamim Iqbal who invited me for the BPL role. But due to some unavoidable circumstances, I could not make it in the end.
Who are your semi-finalists?
No, I will never choose four teams (smiles). That's when you start losing your resume, when you predict and you lose. If Bangladesh have come here believing that they can win - anything can happen in ODIs on any given day. Conditions can be a great deciding factor here. It could be beneficial to your team, if you can utilize it. You never know, there’s going to be some upsets. I am hoping that I will see some, and that will be great for the game.
Former @OfficialSLC captain @MahelaJay gave an exclusive interview to @DhakaTribune in the sidelines of the opening ceremony of the @cricketworldcup where he talked about how the game of cricket has changed over the years and the Tigers’ prospects.https://t.co/LsxmFpcIVY#CWC— Dhaka Tribune Sports (@Sport_DT) May 29, 2019
Any young player in the current era who has caught your attention?
There are lots of young and good players around. Bangladesh have a whole lot of good batters. Windies have some power pack in their batting line-up. India have a very strong batting line-up. I am just looking forward to see these magnificent players do their thing and performing well in the World Cup.
Is there currently any pace bowler that you would have found challenging?
Pace bowler? Hmmm….there are quite a few good guys all around. Listen, every guy who bowls a ball stands a chance (smiles). Every guy who can put his arm over can stand a chance.
Thanks Sir Viv for your time...
Thanks to you as well, and good luck.