Sir Vivian Richards was at Goafest 2017 as a speaker at the leadership summit.
We caught up with him on the sidelines of the event to speak with him about whether too many sponsors in leagues such as the IPL are harming the sport, and a solution for spot fixing.
The former West Indian cricketer who had appeared in an Only Vimal advertisement in India in the 80s said, “I think you can say it’s quite a lot because of the shorter version being more attracting and also getting in more crowds. It would be nice if some of these companies could take that and make it a level playing field. Maybe they can spread their money across the ODI and Test cricket formats as well. But, I can totally sympathise in a way in which why sponsors would want to be involved in the IPL. All the other T20 tournaments also are major attractions, but it would be nice if it could be open up a little towards the other formats at it help prolong them.”
On whether players are being affected, Richards believes its good for them and it isn't a problem.
Earlier in the day Richards had said that no bookie ever approached him, and thought it was probably because he looked intimidating. But when it came to spot fixing, he did believe it’s in the game. Many suggest that legalising betting in the country could help eradicate it, he said, “I’m not sure. The amazing thing about it is that in England, Ladbrokes used to be sponsors at a time, but we allow these things to happen. I’m not sure where we can go from them. There are folks who try that illegally. The way it’s become so huge, if we call ‘horse racing’ a sport, there’s a whole lot that goes on there. Then, where’s the consistency?”
Prior to this, while addressing a packed auditorium, in conversation with Anand Narasimhan, consulting editor, Times Now, Richards had called himself a little ‘cocky’ on the cricket field which led him to treat the English differently to how previous players had treated the country that was ruling Antigua at the time. And it was his ‘cockiness’ that led to him wanting to bat without a helmet or any other arm guards or any guards. Another reason for him not wearing a helmet while batting was that he respected the Test cap a lot and didn’t want to wear anything else.
Among the stories narrated by the former West Indian cricketer was one famous moment with Greg Thomas.
He explained the lead up to the event. He said, “I was playing for Somerset at the time. I had a bad night the day before the game. I was out with Ian Botham and we had a long night of drinking. I was feeling ill and didn’t think I would make it for the game. But because I was out with Botham and he was captain of the team, he would know the reason for it. We won the toss and batted. When the wicket fell and it was my turn to head out, someone woke me up. My bat guided me to the crease.”
And then came the moment. “I was struggling. It was like a new environment. I took about five minutes to take guard. The first four balls were bowled outside off stump. If any of them were straight I’d be bowled. I didn’t see the ball at all. So Thomas came up to me and said ‘It’s red, it’s about five and a half ounces and you’re supposed to hit it. That woke me up. The next ball was straight and it took off like a plane. It landed in the river behind the stadium in Taunton. As confrontational as I could be, I went up to him and told him, since you know the shape and size, go find it.”
He went on to a score a century in 30-odd balls in that first class game, but urged young cricketers not to try this.
Narsimhan then asked him about sledging and whether he has ever experienced something that ‘crossed the line’. “Certain thing are acceptable, but race and religion are not. We don’t need to enter that area. The Aussies can be very rude as you guys would have seen in the last Test series against India. Sometimes they cross boundaries. Since the IPL has begun, some of them come here to earn a living. I have advice for them, ‘Don’t ever curse the hand that feeds you’.
He signed off by taking a dig at the size of the boundaries in the game currently. “People are talking about the size of cricket bats, I’m fine with that since technology has come in that allows one to make such bats. But, one can extend the length of these ‘Mickey Mouse boundaries’.