You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Sir Viv’s secret: Keep it simple

Wisden India logo Wisden India 24-01-2015 Vivian Richards

I believed in keeping the game as simple as possible and my approach to batting was pretty straightforward. Sometimes you can get very focussed on all the changes that need to be made for the different formats of the game. But I always believed that when you have a proper understanding of the longer version of the game, it makes the shorter version of the game easier.

That’s the way I always looked at it and even do so now.

I am not sure that many batsmen think like that in the present day. Today, there are certain players who are described as Test cricketers and others as ODI cricketers (or even Twenty20 cricketers). I find it rather ludicrous. I wouldn’t want to be left out of an ODI team because I am just a Test cricketer and had only reasonable success in shorter formats.

It is, after all, all about making the necessary adjustments. It is about being smart enough to know how to make those changes from one format to the next.

Two names from modern day cricket come to my mind: Sachin Tendulkar and Kumar Sangakkara. They are batsmen who made that adjustment across all formats quite easily. If you love cricket, you can accomplish that, and then, you can achieve anything.

This was the belief I had during my playing days that there is nothing I couldn’t accomplish.

Playing cricket on a regular basis in England meant that I wasn’t a newcomer to the ODI format when I made my debut for West Indies in the ICC Cricket World Cup 1975. That experience of playing different formats in English conditions, whether county championship matches or limited-overs matches, was of enormous help.

Like I mentioned before, my approach to batting was quite simple and it was about playing attacking cricket. I thought a fast bowler is someone who is running in at me as fast as he can. He is a guy with a killer instinct. And I always felt that I am the man to go out and deal with this individual.

I thought that there was no one I could not face.

Of course, there are times when you will have that fear inside you. But you do not show it. Because if you do, it will show your opponent that you are vulnerable. And that’s where I would keep things simple.

The chewing gum, for example, was my greatest comfort zone in the middle. When you are on the field with 11 other players, plus two umpires, you are outnumbered to a degree. You are out there on your own. I felt that the chewing gum was my companion. I had got a mouthguard (like they use in boxing) made, but I never used it. My dentist at that time was very annoyed with me. He said, “I have never seen you use the mouth guard, you are always chewing gum.” I told him that I wanted to be comfortable at the crease.

Chewing gum also made me look cool and wearing that mouth guard impeded my comfort zone. The chewing of gum helped take my mind off stuff like not wearing that guard or even a helmet. I never wore a helmet when batting and I never faced a bowler against whom I thought I should be wearing one.

There was always this chance that I might get hurt. But then, in my mind, I thought about racing drivers. Just because he gets in an accident and he survives, is a racing driver going to quit his profession? Racing is a more dangerous sport than the one I am involved with. If I did get hit while batting, well, tough luck!

If something worse happened, then at least I was in my comfort zone and I enjoyed playing cricket, so it gave me satisfaction. That was always my thought.

My outlook on batting never changed throughout my career. Even when preparing for a World Cup, I didn’t change anything. Perhaps, I felt a little change in 1987, because I was captain and when you lead there is more responsibility on your shoulders. Even then, my batting approach didn’t change overall. I never wanted to complicate things, because when you do that, you struggle.

You can be a heavy contributor with the bat but that is all individual glory.

For example, as a batsman, I scored 138 not out in the World Cup 1979 final against England, 119 against India in the World Cup 1983 at The Oval, 181 off just 125 balls against Sri Lanka in 1987.

Those were great knocks. However, I wanted to achieve more, on a collective basis, by winning that ICC Cricket World Cup 1987. That to me would have been a bigger statement.

While I did have a few personal achievements as a batsman, I always felt more proud of what I could achieve in a team environment. For me, it was always about the team. And so, even though I didn’t make a contribution with the bat in the 1975 final, those three run-outs that I was involved in to help my team beat Australia remain my greatest personal achievement in the World Cup.

2015 © ICC Development (International) Limited

Sir Vivian Richards, one of the greatest batsmen of all time, played 121 Tests and 187 ODIs, scoring at 50.23 and 47 respectively. He never lost a Test series as captain and won the World Cup in 1975 and 1979 with West Indies.

More from Wisden India

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon