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Sir Vivian Richards - master or myth?

Red

The artist formerly known as Monk
That's literally 90% of what his say. Viv fans are almost as obnoxious as Tendulkar fanbois. I find it hard to believe he was a level above Tendulkar, Lara and Smith as it's made out. I'm not even saying he wasn't a top-tier ATG.
He wasn’t a “level above”. It’s just he did stuff that they didn’t do. Him and Gilchrist hit it cleaner and harder than anyone I’ve seen. As Imran said, Viv was the only batsman who intimidated him.
 

Chrish

State 12th Man
Not wearing a helmet while facing the bowlers he did definitely makes him slightly "better" than the others in my eyes, especially since every other player during his later half career was wearing one. And lots of bowlers tried to bounce him for this very reason.

To me this is the hallmark of a master completely confident in his craft.
 

Coronis

International Regular
He wasn’t a “level above”. It’s just he did stuff that they didn’t do. Him and Gilchrist hit it cleaner and harder than anyone I’ve seen. As Imran said, Viv was the only batsman who intimidated him.
But Imran is a politician. Politicians lie.
 

trundler

Hall of Fame Member
He wasn’t a “level above”. It’s just he did stuff that they didn’t do. Him and Gilchrist hit it cleaner and harder than anyone I’ve seen. As Imran said, Viv was the only batsman who intimidated him.
That sort of average at that strike rate sure is crazy and he basically singlehandedly saved WI from a rampaging Imran in the early 80s.
 

Slifer

International Regular
Fwiw Vivs stats are not bad at all. Averaged 50+ away. Averages 40+ home and away vs all (except 3 tests in NZ). Averages 48 across all test innings. Put every single great fast bowler to the sword at least once ie averaged 50+ in a series. Once held the record for most runs in a calendar year, fastest test hundred, 800 runs in 4 tests. The 1976 series in England, the 1979-80 series in Oz., the 1980 series in Pakistan etc.

Viv's conversion rate, yeah it's not the greatest, nor is his overall average but for me, he's by far the best WI batsman of all time and a personal hero of mine.
 

Migara

Cricketer Of The Year
He wasn’t a “level above”. It’s just he did stuff that they didn’t do. Him and Gilchrist hit it cleaner and harder than anyone I’ve seen. As Imran said, Viv was the only batsman who intimidated him.
You can add Shewag to that. Viv to fast bowlers were equal to Shewag to Spinners.
 

Migara

Cricketer Of The Year
Not wearing a helmet while facing the bowlers he did definitely makes him slightly "better" than the others in my eyes, especially since every other player during his later half career was wearing one. And lots of bowlers tried to bounce him for this very reason.

To me this is the hallmark of a master completely confident in his craft.
This was the downfall of those bowlers. People who didn't try to bounce him off, rather examined his foot work, like Hadlee and Kapil were way more successful.
 

pardus

School Boy/Girl Captain
I have massive respect for anyone who plays a ridiculous number of games (say 150 for the big 3, 130 for SL/Pak/NZ AND 120ish in Viv's day). This alone makes a straight average to average comparison moot since averaging 50 over that long is ridiculous to begin with. Plus, there just aren't many ATG batsmen who batted the way Viv did. Average and SR have a bit of a trade-off IMO so 50 @ 70 (or whatever) is again pretty darned special. As OS alluded to above, Viv would've averaged considerably higher if he'd retired after 80 tests and would be rated higher by people looking at Cricinfo profiles alone which doesn't really make sense. Ponting > Chappell too for the reason but that's for another day.

What I don't get, however, is the idea that Viv would've averaged 70 if he wanted to. Well, sure. Tendulkar would've averaged 70 if he didn't debut as a teen and then get bogged down by tennis elbow later in his career. Didn't happen though and sounds like a pretty far-fetched fantasy in hindsight. So he belongs in the pantheon of greats and has attributes that set him apart but so do Lara, Tendulkar etc.
I guess people say that about Viv because whatever individual batting records Viv has/had were much more of a side-effect rather than a single-minded pursuit of those records. He was ridiculously complacent for the last 6-7 years of his career (mostly due to how strong his team was).

Imran - in his 1993 article on Viv - writes - "I admired him because he loved challenges. The bigger the occasion, the more he loved it. The more demanding the occasion, the harder he tried. And often, when there were no challenges, he would entertain the crowd and get out rather than play to improve his average. This is why, for me, statistics are meaningless. They can never reflect the true genius of Viv Richards. Had he wanted, he could easily have scored twice as many Test runs as he did. There were times when his 60s and 70s were far more useful to his team than big 100s scored by others. In the 1980 match against England at Old Trafford, he scored a 60 so violent that it shattered the confidence of England's main strike bowler, Bob Willis."

Not just Imran, Sunil Gavaskar & Viv's team-mate Holding had the same opinion on Viv (& wrote similarly about Viv in their books/articles). In the 90s, Gavaskar mentioned many times how perplexed he was regarding Viv's complacency.

While interviewing Viv for a sports magazine in the late 80s or early 90s, Gavaskar once asked Viv - why he didn't go after Gavaskar's then record of 10,000+ runs, when he could easily have (relatively speaking)? Viv nonchalantly answered - "Nah. That's not me, man". That pretty much sums up Viv's attitude. It's a very West Indian thing.

Lara actually went on a similar route of apathy from late 1996 onward before resurrecting again from 2002. Although I have to add, it was thoroughly misplaced in Lara's case.

Viv's greatness was not how good his stats were, but how bad his stats weren't, given his strike rate & his risky attitude of locking horns with the opposition's best bowlers, and his later year complacency. He batted very aggressively, often took mindless risks, and yet had an average comparable to most other batsmen except Bradman. There were other batsmen in Viv's era, who too batted aggressively or riskily, but their figures suffered.

Does that mean Viv would have averaged 70+ if he single-minded pursued his Test average? Not necessarily. I think he definitely would have ended with a significantly better average than his current Test average. How much better is impossible to say.
 

Gob

International Vice-Captain
Viv needed 40 odd runs in his final innings to secure a fifty plus average didn't he? Fascinating to think how he would have been perceived over time had he failed to do so. I mean it wouldn't have made a tiniest bit of difference to his overall achievements other than the average and all accolades we hear from his peers would still be there igniting claims of Viv being overrated by later generations I think since the 50 plus average is almost a pre requisite now.
 

Gob

International Vice-Captain
Also I'm genuinely interested to know what makes Viv significantly superior to Kohli in tests. I mean from the outset you feel like Viv is significantly superior to Kohli (I do rate Viv very highly ftr he is in my top 5) but when you think about it, they aren't that different in terms of quality or in achievements

Food for thought
 

OverratedSanity

Request Your Custom Title Now!
here were times when his 60s and 70s were far more useful to his team than big 100s scored by others. In the 1980 match against England at Old Trafford, he scored a 60 so violent that it shattered the confidence of England's main strike bowler, Bob Willis."
Back in 2018 during India's tour of SA, I remember reading a cricinfo comment which was a very very short lived meme on CW at the time. So I went back and checked the commentary and found it

1610200060161.png

Was I too hard on Sushil at the time? Was it actually Imran posting it under a pseudonym?
 

Chrish

State 12th Man
Also I'm genuinely interested to know what makes Viv significantly superior to Kohli in tests. I mean from the outset you feel like Viv is significantly superior to Kohli (I do rate Viv very highly ftr he is in my top 5) but when you think about it, they aren't that different in terms of quality or in achievements

Food for thought


Here Viv going after Hadlee, hitting four boundaries in his over.

General gist of argument is, he went after the best opposition bowlers and took them on one on one. This demoralized the opposition when your best bowler was defeated and rest of the team capitalized from this “mental defeat”. Sort of like what ABDV did to Aussie bowlers in last Oz-SA series, except Viv tried to do this majority of his career.

Of course he didn’t succeed all the times as no one would against top class bowling, but his way of playing was unique at that time and arguably still is.

Having said that, I would not necessarily call him “significantly better” than the names mentioned. He was just different.
 

pardus

School Boy/Girl Captain
Were cricketers in the 70s and 80s mental midgets or something? “Oh no I can’t bowl well anymore, Viv Richards got out for a brisk 45 two hours ago”.
Unfortunately bowlers back then, unlike today's bowlers, didn't have T20s to toughen 'em up. So most likely those fast bowlers weren't used to seeing batsmen hitting them back over their heads, in any form of the game, and making a successful career.

On a more serious note what probably further made it scary for bowlers back then is, it never seemed like Viv was playing beyond himself while scoring runs at a brisk pace. Holding mentions he found it a bit unnerving to bowl to Viv because "Viv would often smash your best deliveries, and then - knowing fully well what he had done - he would saunter down the pitch with a smirk". I guess bowlers back then didn't fancy any batsman playing like Viv did & being successful for more than 10% of the time, while Viv was successful probably around 40-50% of the time.

In a County match, when Somerset took on Lancs, when Viv came into bat, Lancs unleashed their fastest & scariest bowler - Patrick Patterson - on him. Patterson bowled as if he wanted to kill Viv. A barrage of bouncers were countered with powerful hooks/pulls. 2 overs of Patterson flew for 33 runs, and he was taken off the attack.

Once the statement was made, Viv didn't stick around for long after. Rest of the Somerset batsmen though made merry as Patterson (angry & upset with himself at having lost this particular battle) didn't come back into the attack until much later.

Now, Viv wasn't superman. Bowlers got him plenty of times too. The same Patterson bounced Viv out when Jamaica took on the Islands in a Red Stripe cup match.

Nevertheless, whatever the reason, there's no denying that Viv's batting did have a huge psychological impact on the opposition bowlers, team as well as the audience. It is impossible to truly appreciate the impact, unless you have experienced it live (& especially if you were rooting for the opposition). Scorecards & even YouTube videos simply don't do justice.

On paper/stats though, Viv is definitely inferior to a lot of the names mentioned here (Kohli, Tendulkar etc.), no question about that.
 

AndrewB

International Regular
In the 1980 match against England at Old Trafford, he scored a 60 so violent that it shattered the confidence of England's main strike bowler, Bob Willis."
That was a curious innings: at the end of the 1st day, the West Indies score card (in reply to England's 150 all out) was slightly lop-sided.

Code:
Greenidge c Larkins b Dilley..0 (18)
Haynes c Knott b Willis.......1 (6)
Richards not out.............32 (22)
Bacchus c Botham b Dilley.....0 (1)
Kallicharran not out..........0 (9)
Extras (3w, 2nb)..............5
Total........................38-3

Willis 5-1-32-1, Dilley 4-3-1-2
All of the 22 balls Richards had faced were bowled by Willis; he hit 7 fours and 2 twos. He faced 16 more balls from Willis on Day 2, and hit 5 more fours (and a single) before he was dismissed by Botham for 65 (off 68 balls in total).

The Wisden report said "The brilliant Richards ... continued a remarkable, vendetta-like attack on Willis next morning."

Willis ended up with figures of 14-1-99-1, Lloyd also giving him plenty of stick later on - not great in a total of 260 all out.
 

grecian

Cricket Web: All-Time Legend
That's literally 90% of what his say. Viv fans are almost as obnoxious as Tendulkar fanbois. I find it hard to believe he was a level above Tendulkar, Lara and Smith as it's made out. I'm not even saying he wasn't a top-tier ATG.
Utter bollox, blimey that 90% is ridiculous if you guys want to downgrade Viv on his fanboys, fair enough, but just try to realise these type of comments show you are looking for excuses, not a coherent argument, like rain on your wedding day or summat.
 

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