Viv Richards: The biggest boss

Sir Viv Richards makes a fervent plea to protect the longest format of the game. In an interview, he discusses the future of cricket and why he praises India captain Virat Kohli so much.

Sir Viv Richards says he does not want Test match cricket to disappear.   -  Getty Images

The cricket world takes notice when Sir Viv Richards speaks on the game. What came easily to him was a monumental challenge for the rest. “The biggest boss” was how Virat Kohli hailed him recently. Richards is a huge fan of Kohli. And Kohli is a bigger fan of Richards. Batsmen of a rare kind, Richards and Kohli have embellished the game with their fascinating acts at the crease. Richards, the most devastating batsmen against the most ferocious bowlers, loves the idea of a Test Championship and makes a fervent plea to protect the longest format of the game. In an interview to Sportstar, Richards discusses the future of the game and why he praises Kohli so much.

How do you look at the World Test Championship?

If we speak about the point system from here, I would love to see wickets conducive to competitive cricket, where the bowlers can get results and batters will have to do the best, nothing is wrong with that. Too many times we see a draw in Test matches, that’s why I believe folks may be saying, “Let’s get rid of Test match cricket because this sort of stuff is so exciting on the other side.” We should stick to this particular format because I believe you need results. It depends on who is better on that day, who has the better tactics, who handles the pace better. I think that will be a great start. And I am hoping it starts in this series here, at home, at the Vivian Richards Stadium.

Sir Viv Richards with a print by artist Brandan Kelly presented to him by friend Richie Richardson in February.   -  Getty Images


How has Test cricket evolved amid the competition it faces from Twenty20?

It has evolved in a very big way. And to me, because of that particular foundation called Test cricket, and all the other little versions coming to T20, which I think is the most popular at this stage, it has given cricket an avenue. It has bought families out in a very big way, little kids too. And I think it is a great format. There are some folks who are totally in denial of T20, and I am not one at this particular point.

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. And I am proud in a big way and very satisfied. Having played the game and seeing the way it is at present, it is just marvellous.

Do you agree that Test cricket faces a threat?

I will not want Test cricket to disappear. I was fortunate in a big way to be around Sunil Gavaskar and all the great players, and that is why I think we have T20. It has evolved and I believe if we need to preserve this format, we have to make sure that the points system in World Test Championship compensates for all the various activities that Test cricket would have given you.

Richards says Test cricket has evolved and if we need to preserve the format, we have to make sure that the points system in World Test Championship compensates for all the various activities that Test match cricket would have given us.   -  Getty Images


What kind of future do you see for cricket as a whole?

People still mention cricket legends Don Bradman, Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. I would say in a big way that Test 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. Test cricket should be preserved and folks involved with the game should ensure that we do not get lost because of the excitement that we have now (in T20 cricket). I’d be very disappointed.

You always praise Virat. How much of yourself do you see in him?

I have a lot of respect for Virat. I see a lot of similar attitudes, we are both so passionate about our leadership, we are passionate about how our fieldsmen behave. He is driven and I have always felt that is why he is the captain. This guy leads from the front and I enjoy that 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 is a long way from the square. He is hands-on. So, because of that, you can see that this guy is involved 24/7. 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.”

Is he a bit like you as captain?

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 overexcited. Sometimes I have been in that lane where I have rebuked my player, not in a big way.

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.