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Sir Viv Richards on having a winning mentality

 Former West Indies cricket captain Sir Vivian Richards is recognised the world over as one of the finest batsmen to have played the game.

Cricket legend Vivian Richards (Photo: cricketcountry.com)

Over a seventeen year test career he played 121 tests scored 8,540 runs with 24 centuries. His first class cricket career saw Sir Viv Richards amassing 36,000 runs and he has scored 7,000 runs in one day internationals (ODIs).

In December 2002, he was chosen by Wisden as the greatest ODI batsman of all time.

“I have always admired expressions of individualism and felt proud to see athletes like Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Kirani James do their thing. These guys don’t just represent Jamaica and Grenada, they represent all of us in the Caribbean.”

– Sir Vivian Richards

His batting was characterised by aggressive but elegant explosiveness. He was an Achilles at the crease with a swagger that signaled his intent.

Many of the greatest cricketers of the modern era, men such as Imran Khan, Ian Botham, the Chappell brothers, Shane Warne, Bob Willis, Allan Border, Ricky Ponting, Wasim Akram and Sachin Tendulkar have all hailed Sir Viv Richards’s abilities and talent.

Beginning his test career in 1974, he served as West Indies captain between 1984 and 1991 and for 50 test matches and during that period West Indies never lost a single series.

Sir Viv Richards has always credited his success to having a winning mentality, taking his game to the opposition and always looking to impose his will on bowling attacks.

There are those who cite the demise of the West Indies team in recent times as due to it lacking a winning mentality- both at the team and administration level.

Richards is regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. (Photo: mirror.co.uk)

Some put it down to today’s preoccupation with social media and video games and ever decreasing avenues to assert masculinity ( a generation of men working behind computers in cubicles).

There are those who subscribe to the attitude that having a winning mentality should transcend everything. Former manager of Manchester United, Sir Alex Ferguson who won 13 League titles at the club was such a person.

To him the key to a winning mentality was the avoidance of complacency.

“ With complacency, you do not see it happening, you do not see where it is coming from.

“But when it hits you, you cannot get out of it, you can’t eradicate it. So that was an important part of how we constructed a winning mentality at Manchester United, to avoid complacency,” he was reported to have said on the matter.

Caribbean Business Report sat down with cricketing legend Sir Viv Richards to ascertain his approach to the game.
 
“Cricket is a team sport and you should always be thinking about the part you play for the betterment of the team, however cricket does allow you to express yourself.

“I have always admired expressions of individualism and felt proud to see athletes like Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Kirani James do their thing. These guys don’t just represent Jamaica and Grenada, they represent all of us in the Caribbean.

Richards said the individualism of athletes like Bolt made him proud to watch as they represented the region. (Photo: The New York Times)

“That’s the attitude and approach I took as a player, as vice-captain and as captain of the West Indies team – I was representing the Caribbean and was here to win on its behalf,” said Sir Viv Richards.

He credits the power of the mind as the greatest essence one can have in going about accomplishing a mission.. The ability to totally be focused and to shut out everything else.

“ I wanted to use that as wisely as I could to show that even though you said you invented cricket ( the English) I could do justice to it. I thoroughly believed in what I was doing and I didn’t for one minute believe that I didn’t belong in any cricketing arena.

“When I mentor young people, I stress that you must have both talent and will – it makes you a serious force to be reckoned with,” said the cricketing maestro who hails from Antigua.

Richards is regarded as one of the greatest cricketers of all-time. (Photo: The Mirror)

Sauntering up to the crease with insouciance and his West Indies team cap, always chewing gum, bearded and handsome, lean and athletic , his presence commanded attention and expectation. You were about to behold greatness.

So what ran through his mind before beginning an innings?

“Batsmanship in my opinion is like a Picasso painting, it’s about expressing yourself. I was going to do my thing by hitting through the gaps and looking to create an avenue for runs.

“I never had fear and wearing a helmet made me uncomfortable so I wore my West Indies maroon cap and went out there and took on the bowling. I thoroughly believed that I belonged there. I walked the walk of belief because that’s how I felt inside.

“You may win some days, but I am confident that I am going to succeed. Yes I have respect for you, but I don’t fear you.”

So who does he admire among today’s cricket stars and which player has what he brought to the game?

“ I see India’s Virat Kohli as having an approach and mindset to the game which is similar to mine and that’s why I feel a connection to him. I like the way he walks up to the crease. He has wrongly been labelled as arrogant when he is not – rather he is confident.

“ He sets himself high standards. He has a never say die, highly competitive attitude. He has the talent and the will which makes him formidable.”

Those who have tried to refine his batting style or suggested he change his technique have said Sir Viv Richards can be stubborn and unyielding.

What says he to this?

“When I first went to England there were coaches who tried to take me on and kept talking about how I was batting across the line, which to them was a mistake. Many of them felt I was stubborn and refuse to see it their way.

“There were experts who insisted that I should hit the ball in the V but to me if you kept doing that the opposition would simply plug the V and then runs would be hard to come by.

“I liked to dominate bowlers and bring aggression to the situation. Fast bowlers can be intimidating but so to can batsmen with the right mindset.

Looking at Sir Viv Richards sitting across from me, he gives the impression that he could still go out there and hit a quick century in an ODI. At 67 he is lean, and built like an athlete and doesn’t have a soft protruding belly like many men in the evening of their years.

So how does he stay in such remarkable shape?

He chuckles with a twinkle in his eye: “ Good genes I suppose. I don’t work out in the gym, but I do light weights for my arms. I don’t want to look like those bodybuilders with bulges everywhere.

I was an athlete and still think of myself as one so it I should at least look like one. I like to play golf and I will go to the beach for a swim. My cricketing days are long gone but I might play a little beach cricket for fun.”

The West Indies cricket team has not had much success of late and now finds itself as a third tier outfit, behind India , Pakistan, Bangladesh, England , Australia and New Zealand.

Last month it was battered by India in all formats of the game.

It now finds itself ignominiously having to fend off the likes of Afghanistan and Ireland where once these teams could only be honoured to share the same ground as the mighty West Indies team of Sir Viv Richards’s day.

Will the West Indies cricket team ever again ascend those lofty heights?

“For us to be a force in world cricket again everyone has to be singing from the same hymn sheet. Players have to recognise that they have a duty to the fans and to people in the West Indies who appreciate and have supported West Indies cricket for a number of years.

“ They have to be aware that they are representing the region. The fans have been let down big time. Our players must know that our people here in the Caribbean are hurting when they see our recent performances. We have to dig a little deeper and try to create the environment that saw us winning.

“I always felt that those of us who were part of the days when we were on top should give back and support and help the team. I am a die-hard when it comes to the West Indies cricket team. It is very important to us here in the Caribbean because it unites and binds us like nothing else. I hope it won’t be long before we are back where we should be.”

“When I mentor young people, I stress that you must have both talent and will – it makes you a serious force to be reckoned with,”


“When I mentor young people, I stress that you must have both talent and will – it makes you a serious force to be reckoned with.” said the cricketing maestro who hails from Antigua.

Sauntering up to the crease with insouciance and his West Indies team cap, always chewing gum, bearded and handsome, lean and athletic , his presence commanded attention and expectation. You were about to behold greatness.

So what ran through his mind before beginning an innings?


“Batsmanship in my opinion is like a Picasso painting, it’s about expressing yourself. I was going to do my thing by hitting through the gaps and looking to create an avenue for runs.

“I never had fear and wearing a helmet made me uncomfortable so I wore my West Indies maroon cap and went out there and took on the bowling. I thoroughly believed that I belonged there. I walked the walk of belief because that’s how I felt inside.

“You may win some days, but I am confident that I am going to succeed. Yes I have respect for you, but I don’t fear you.”

So who does he admire among today’s cricket stars and which player has what he brought to the game?

“ I see India’s Virat Kohli as having an approach and mindset to the game which is similar to mine and that’s why I feel a connection to him. I like the way he walks up to the crease. He has wrongly been labelled as arrogant when he is not – rather he is confident.

“ He sets himself high standards. He has a never say die, highly competitive attitude. He has the talent and the will which makes him formidable.”

Those who have tried to refine his batting style or suggested he change his technique have said Sir Viv Richards can be stubborn and unyielding.