Former Pakistan captain Inzamam ul Haq lauded praises on one of the finest batsman the game has ever seen, Sir Vivian Richards, calling him one of the undisputed Kings of the game. Inzamam also claimed that despite the game changing so much over the years, with batsmen scoring runs with so much ease, he misses the aggression amongst the current crop of players that the Master Blaster used to possess.
“Before 1975, the concept of batting according to the coaching manual was the norm among batsmen, defending, playing off the back foot, not playing too straight, scoring square of the wicket, not attempting too many shots, and so on. Viv came to the International scene and changed the concept completely. Attacking the fastest of bowlers in that era, pulling off the front foot, straight drives, he brought aggression to the game of Cricket,” Inzamam said on his YouTube channel, Inzamam ul Haq- The Match Winner.
About how profound an impact the iconic Cricketer from the island of Antigua & Barbuda had, Inzamam continued, “I was picked for a camp back in 1991 before my International debut. Over there, we were lectured by Imran Khan (1992 World Cup winning captain and current Prime Minister of Pakistan) about rotating strike in One Day Internationals in order to win matches. He said that there has been only one individual capable of chasing down targets by scoring only boundaries, and his name is Viv Richards. He warned us not to try to emulate him, as there can only be one Viv Richards.”
Inzamam also talked about how Viv used to take down the best fast bowlers in the world. He said, “Usually, we have seen batsmen target a particular bowler, like we used to have the duo of Wasim (Akram) & Waqar (Younis), batsmen would try to play them out and then take on the rest of the bowlers. Viv has been the only batsman until then to take on the main bowlers of a particular team and dishearten them.”
“He did not care about the quality of the surface he was batting on. I heard an incident before a Test match against the West Indies. Our batsmen could not get enough practice as the main pitch was dampened. A while later, the West Indians arrived and we saw Viv stride out to bat on the same pitch. We watched on in awe as Viv hooked, pulled and bullied the West Indian fast bowlers on the same pitch, wearing his trademark maroon cap. The West Indian fast bowlers from the ’80s, no less,” he said.
“In my 35-40 years of watching, playing, or understanding the game, I have never seen someone pull almost a 100 mile an hour delivery for four past mid wicket, off the front foot. Smashing fast bowlers for six straight down the ground. That too in the late ’70s and ’80s,” Inzamam spoke about the admiration he has had for him, also adding that people did try to emulate him, but like Imran Khan said, there could only be one Viv Richards.
Despite not being able to share the field with him in an International Cricket match, Inzamam recalled a memorable incident when he got to bat with the legendary batsman.
“I was once batting with the legendary Vivian Richards. He came over to me and asked me if I wanted to check who could hit the biggest six between us. I smiled and said sure. I thought he is a retired player and I was quite young at the time while I had faith in myself,” Inzamam said.
“In the first over he hit a six, which landed in the parking region outside the ground. Then I hit a six, which went above the dressing room and went further than Richard’s six. I happily told him that I had hit a bigger six. He simply replied that we weren’t out yet, we are still playing.”
“In the third over, Viv Richards hit a six that went above the dressing room and into the house behind. He didn’t just hit one. He hit three massive sixes into the nearby houses. He was just that kind of a player. He played at this level even after retirement. He was such a great player. I think the players will be learning so much since he is mentoring the Quetta Gladiators side,” said the former batsman.
“I can’t see aggression, like that of Viv Richards, in the modern game despite the high scoring matches we see today. The passion was just too high. The real essence of cricket is aggression. People enjoy watching cricket because of the aggression. All these great cricketers brought a lot to the table in their heydays, they were masters of the game, but unfortunately, they couldn’t quite inflict the same inputs to the Cricketers of today, hence the absence of the aggression, the greatness,” the man from Multan said.
Vivian Richards, in a podcast with former Australian all-rounder Shane Watson also talked about the passion that he had for the game, saying that he was okay with dying on the pitch while batting when asked about his famous tendency to play without a helmet.
“The passion for the game I felt was such that I wouldn’t mind dying playing something that I love. If this is what I chose and I go down here, what better way is there to go,” he said.