He’s not your usual 66-year-old. Still standing as straight as an arrow, Vivian Richards looks in perfect shape to smack a few sixes in the IPL.
In the city as a brand ambassador for the American University of Antigua, College of Medicine, which is a part of the Manipal Group, the legendary cricketer hasn’t lost any of his famous swagger as well. He is still as intimidating as he was during his playing days, as straightforward as his defiant shots used to be.
For example, while he was interacting with the media on the sidelines of a programme at El Bethel School, some were busy whispering behind his back. A stern looking Viv thundered: “Can we have some manners? I don’t want anybody to speak while I am speaking, because that disturbs my mind.” Just like he silenced the best of bowlers with the bat, this time too the ‘Viv effect’ had absolute silence.
Viv wasn’t silent though. He was at his expressive best while talking on cricket, especially Virat Kohli.
Asked about Kohli’s captaincy, Viv compared the India skipper to former India captain Sourav Ganguly .
“I love Virat’s captaincy… I even liked it when your Prince (of Calcutta), Sourav Ganguly, won a series in England and took his shirt off at the Lord’s balcony. I love all that. That was the time when they wore their hearts on their sleeves. They appreciate the fact that they are representing their country. When their country was successful they all had fun and enjoyed the moment,” Viv said.
Kohli’s aggression had a fresh encounter with controversy when he clashed with Australia captain Tim Paine in Perth, with their banter almost threatening to snowball into something bigger. But Viv doesn’t see any reason why Kohli’s attacking ways are to be disliked.
“I love it (Kohli’s aggression)… And why not? When you are in sports today, you should be very, very, very aware that you will have to compete a lot more, and compete hard.”
When asked if he saw a bit himself and Sachin Tendulkar in Kohli, as recently suggested by Steve Waugh,Viv said with a smile: “I don’t know about Steve, but I know about Viv… For sure, I like Virat. He competes hard. He expects results. A lot of people have said that he’s too aggressive... But I don’t think so. When you have a guy who can lead from the front, it can only rub off on the individuals who are following him. And as you can see, the Indian team seem to be doing pretty well nowadays.”
India’s four-match Test series in Australia is locked at 1-1 after two Tests and Viv thinks that India have a great chance of emerging victorious.
“It’s going to be a great series in Australia. The Aussies have fought back well after India won the opening Test in Adelaide. Even though this Indian team is as talented as anyone in world cricket at the moment, one can never underestimate Australia. They are fighters. But I would say India have the perfect chance to win a Test series in Australia under the aggressive captaincy of Virat.”
Viv also had a lot of praise for current India pace attack. “I will tell you something… I remember the days when we came here in 1974, India had the best spinners in the world. But it looks like in the modern days, India have the best pace pack as well. They are very aggressive… Earlier, the Indians had to cope with a lot of bouncers, now they are giving it back.”
Saluting Sunil Gavaskar, Viv said: “He’s the godfather of Indian batsmanship. He passed down the mantle to Sachin, and now we are seeing Virat. India should be very proud to have so many talented people who are up there in world cricket.”
Despite that intimidating swagger, it is this humility that makes Viv one of the best to have ever played the game.