Viv Richards: T20 and the IPL welcome developments for cricket

“In my opinion, I think the IPL has sent a great message. I think it came at a time when Test match cricket was on a downward spiral. What it has created, more than anything else, is the family sort of environment around the matches," the West Indian legend said.

"It’s just been phenomenal. T20 and the IPL have given the game, on an overall basis, the kiss of life," Richards said.   -  Vivek Bendre

Vivian Richards is among the greatest and most charismatic West Indian cricketers to have visited these shores. The gum-chewing Antiguan plundered runs against India, starting with his unconquered 192 at the Kotla in December 1974. In all, he amassed 1927 runs in 28 Test matches for an average of 50.71 against the Indians.

Recently, he played his part as mentor of Delhi Daredevils in 2013. Even today, the 65-year old remains popular, drawing immediate attention wherever he goes.

While talking to Sportstar at St. Regis hotel on Wednesday, Richards gave the impression that he’s not at all against T20 per se; on the contrary, he says the T20 and the IPL were welcome developments in cricket’s long history.

Invited to India for the Goafest 2107 by entertainment, media and communication company, itw playworx, Richards, when asked to comment on the role played by the IPL in the development of cricket said: “In my opinion, I think the IPL has sent a great message. I think it came at a time when Test match cricket was on a downward spiral. What it has created, more than anything else, is the family sort of environment around the matches. It’s just been phenomenal. T20 and the IPL have given the game, on an overall basis, the kiss of life.”

Note of caution

While recognising the tremendous success of the IPL and many other versions of the T20 cricket, Richards touched a note of caution saying that youngsters are probably jumping the gun and making a false start and that the governing body has to step in to strike a balance and give primacy to first class and Test cricket.

“The youngsters should know what cricket really represents. Why the 50-over game was started and why the T20 version has come in. There is nothing wrong in individuals wanting to play T20, but I am encouraged by Virat Kohli who said he still enjoys playing Test match cricket.”

Richards added: “I would like to see the game go ahead. We cannot remain stagnant. T20 is good for the game. There have been many great players and they should not be lost. I still feel everyone can enjoy the game across all formats.”

Likes financial model

Richards liked the idea of the ICC and its chairman Shashank Manohar adhering to the “equity, good conscience, common sense and simplicity” theme to share the ICC gross revenue over a period of eight years.

“Well, to be fair, if that’s what he (Manohar) thinks, then I think that may be a new avenue for us to try and explore... and in order to maintain that level of fairness, that’s not a bad idea. If it can be achieved, good luck and hopeful he can do it.”

Richards recalled the days when a strong West Indies used to help other countries to improve their financial status. “The West Indies is not in the same situation now. Every member must be given as much help as possible. You are going to have a level playing field. To me that’s huge. And he (Manohar) should be given all necessary support in trying to achieve it. And this would send a message that we are all part of this great game. I would applaud him for that.”