Regular-article-logo Saturday, 23 September 2023

Virat and I share the same passion for leadership: Viv Richards

Virat Kohli calls Vivian Richards the “biggest BOSS”

Indranil Majumdar Calcutta Published 21.08.19, 09:23 PM
The West Indies legend Vivian Richards has always been a “big fan” of the India captain and loves his aggression

The West Indies legend Vivian Richards has always been a “big fan” of the India captain and loves his aggression Telegraph picture

Virat Kohli calls Vivian Richards the “biggest BOSS”. The West Indies legend has always been a “big fan” of the India captain and loves his aggression. The mutual admiration hasn’t ended there.

The Indians play the opening Test of the series in North Sound from Thursday and the ‘King of Antigua’ will be hoping for a special innings.


Richards, a panellist on Sony Pictures Sports Network’s Extraaa Innings for India’s tour of the West Indies, spoke to The Telegraph on cricket, Kohli and more.


Ian Bishop tweeted recently that you felt honoured after taking a photo with Kohli. Can you explain your feelings and the reason for such humility?

I have a lot of respect for Virat. I see a lot of attitudes similar, we are both so passionate about our leadership, passionate about how our fieldsmen behave… Because he is driven, I have always felt that is why he is the captain. This guy leads from the front and I enjoy and appreciate that. I love the passion. I made a statement once, where I had seen him on the long-on boundary in a match, and it was an appeal for a leg before, he was a long way from the square, but still he was involved... Yeah, I just love it. He is hands-on... So because of that you can see that this guy is involved 24x7. I just love the energy that he brings. I have sometimes been accused of being hard on my players and the other day I saw him doing the same. I thought to myself, ‘man… yeah I have done it too’.

As a captain, I would not ask a player to do something that I wasn’t prepared to do myself. And I think Virat has all these attributes. Sometimes we all get a little bit over-excited. We do. Sometimes I have been in that lane where I have rebuked my player, not in a big way though. At the end of it you sort of feel hurt about it but I think sometimes the players understand that the captain would not put him in a position or situation where the captain wasn’t comfortable himself. And this is what I appreciate about him. To have a captain who fights and gets in their faces, because that is part of the deal… Sometimes you may be beating your rivals with all these skills but then verbally sometimes they hurt you, and Virat is prepared to stand up.

Do you think Kohli has changed the face of Indian cricket?

I remember those days when Indian cricket was such that if you slapped them on one cheek they would turn the other one towards you and walk away. Virat has brought some spice and has changed the whole parameter, what this game is all about. Everyone felt that India was soft and Virat stands up for what he believes in. And that to me is huge and that’s what I think leadership is all about … Having a leader like Virat keeps everyone aware of the fact to be highly competitive. And if they give it, we are going to give it back, and nothing is wrong about that. I appreciate those things. There are so many things about the guy’s competitiveness that is so important.

Steve Smith has been in terrific form in the Ashes till he was ruled out of the third Test after failing a concussion test. How do you compare Smith and Kohli?

They are run-getters, and that’s the most important thing. Sometimes you hear people and it’s not all the time you look at the way Smith plays, and I guess if he was an Englishman, he would try to find another profession! (laughs) You know but at the end of the day it’s all about scoring runs and Virat does that. I see little bit of that, when he hits the ball here and there, that’s what batsmanship is all about. It’s an art, it is like someone painting a magnificent picture and you do exactly what you want to paint and you are not going to keep brushing a particular position but you are going to exploit the various areas that you think can make a beautiful photo or picture.

That’s what these guys do, and to be fair, I love guys like these. Individuals who are inventive enough and that is why I want to come and watch because the things that they do, it’s rather unusual to an individual. That’s why they are where they are, that’s why their stats are good. As it is, they are brave individuals, they don’t have any fear about playing certain little shots, you hear people say, ‘oh he walked across the stumps and he did that’, it’s rubbish! Fine, so long he doesn’t miss it! That’s what it is all about… Batsmanship is an art and these guys are wonderful exponents of the art.

Does the concept of World Test Championship excite you?

Certainly Test cricket is a great format. To be fair, I think the ODIs and T20s were born from this particular format. The game has evolved in a very big way. I think T20 is a great format. There are some folks who are totally in denial of T20, and I am not one at this particular point of time. Frankly, it has taken cricket to a different level. And when I say another level, as any other sporting activity around the world, T20 can be a competitor. I am proud in a big way and very satisfied, having played the game and seeing the way it is at present, feels just marvellous. And I would not like to see Test cricket disappear.

I would say in a big way that Test match cricket is the father, ODI is the mother and then we have the kids who play around, so it is a family environment. And if we enjoy family in such a huge way, we should never ever lose this family collection.

How do you see India’s emergence as a pace powerhouse?

I love it. Why I think (Jasprit) Bumrah may be that successful is because as a batsman I like to have a guy who is quick with real substance in pace. I like to have a guy to use that rhythm. It gives me enough time to focus. I know Bumrah has an advantage because he looks like a spinner in his run-up but extracts the pace of any quick and that to me can be uncomfortable. A guy who bowls with that particular pace, you need some time and he doesn’t give you that time. It is like that… With the short run-up of a spinner, he is bowling as quick as anything and that’s where the batsman sometimes do get themselves into a certain position because they are never comfortable, have not got enough time or the rhythm to work, it’s just unusual.

You know it’s huge, both his hands go up at the same time, it’s unusual and I would prefer to face Dennis Lillee over Bumrah, because then it’s that perfect action and you could see everything. I think India has got a diamond in its armoury. I think as long as he remains fit, he’s going to get a lot of batsmen around the world in trouble.

Should West Indies have different captains for different formats?

Judging from what I have seen, Kieron Pollard would have been the best choice as our T20 captain and there are reasons for that. During CPL, he was the best with the bat. Also why I think this may be because a lot of captains were introduced at that time. There were also problems between the Board and the players, no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite but because of those politics he has fast fallen in captaincy. Pollard would have been a better choice. It’s not that Carlos would not have been a member in the team then... I know Carlos is magnificent as an individual, he is a wonderful guy, highly competitive guy, he will not feel hurt any way. A lot of guys know that Pollard would have been a great choice.

Follow us on: