Sir Vivian Richards, Legendary West Indian batsman and former captain, has had many instances when his greatness was on show for all the world to see, however, there was one, in particular, that stands out in my mind.

Apartheid South Africa had been banished from the world of sport and while the two, politics and sport, should never meet, it was widely agreed that those sanctions were the right thing to do.

South African cricket was decimated by the sanctions, which started in 1971, and they needed to revive it.

The country hashed a plan to play unsanctioned international cricket inside South Africa, which while frowned upon, could not be stopped.

In all, South Africa would host seven tours to the country, dubbed Rebel Tours, between 1982 and 1990.

A precedence had been set in 1981 with England’s Graham Gooch going to South Africa with eleven other players. They world wholeheartedly bashed them for their actions, labelling the group the “the Dirty Dozen” in England’s Houses of Parliament.

The rebels were banned for three years, including Geoffrey Boycott, who was the world’s leading Test run-scorer at the time. Most of their careers, except for Gooch’s and John  Emburey’s, was ended by the ban.

But in 1982, the South Africans were back at it, inviting Sri Lanka this time, with 14 of their players convinced into making the trip. The players were banned for life by the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka. Only Flavian Aponso would play again, turning out for the Netherlands in the 1996 World Cup at the age of 43.

Fast forward to 1982 and South Africa came calling in the Caribbean. For the first time, the South African side would get real competition because the West Indies, kings of cricket at the time, could afford to field at least two world-beating teams.

At the time, first-class cricketers in the West Indies weren’t paid at all and had to live off employment outside of cricket. In fact, the majority of those who played for the West Indies had jobs outside of cricket and so South Africa made sure to make an offer that would mean they could become financially independent.

For the first time the unofficial games had some real legitimacy as the South Africans had a West Indies team that could compete with them.

But even while the Lawrence Rowe-led team that included real talent like that of Richard Austin, Herbert Chang, Sylvester Clarke, Colin Croft, Bernard Julien, Alvin Kallicharan, Collis King, Everton Mattis, Ezra Moseley, and David Murray, was brilliant in its own right, it still needed some real star power to make it more legitimate.

There was no greater star in World cricket at the time than Viv Richards.

Viv played a swashbuckling brand of cricket few dared to attempt or had the talent to pull off for that matter.

South Africa wanted him.

In the critically acclaimed documentary ‘Fire in Babylon,’  Viv opens up about being offered a blank cheque from the South African cricket board.

To prove that the ravages of Apartheid would never impact him, or the other cricketers in South Africa, those agreeing to the tour would be called ‘Honorary White’.

Viv would never have to work again.

Then he reacted in a way that cemented his place, at least in my mind, as West Indies cricket’s greatest hero, by simply saying no, when many others would have said different.

He didn’t hit a ball out of the park, challenge an Australian quick, he simply said ‘no’.

And for that, I will be eternally grateful as it has shaped, in large part, my attitude towards racism.

 Just recently, Sir Viv was asked if he had regrets about not taking the offer and living the rest of his life in the lap of luxury.

“No sir, that has never even come to mind and I am one of those individuals that when I make my mind up in terms of the decision making and all that, then that’s it and that, to me, was worth much more than money,” he said.

Of course, Viv saying ‘no’ had the knock-on effect of making sure that nobody else, outside of Croft, would say otherwise.

Sir Viv’s ‘no’, had the knock-on effect of ensuring that the West Indies’ great legacy of the 1980s was created.

Without it, West Indies’ tour to England in 1984 where they won the Test series 5-0, would not have happened. There would have been no ‘Whitewash’.

And, of course, not losing a single Test series between 1980 and 1995 would probably not have happened.

Sir Viv’s moment may just have saved what turned out to be the greatest sporting achievement in the history of sport.

Because now, saying ‘no’ was markedly easier for Gordon Greenidge, Desmond Haynes, Clive Lloyd, Jeffrey Dujon, Malcolm Marshall, Joel Garner and Michael Holding.  

And Viv had to say ‘no’ again, the following year. He did and the rest is history.

Apartheid would come to an end in 1994.

Sir Vivian Richards believes Cricket West Indies missed an opportunity to improve Women’s cricket after their first World Cup win and again when the region hosted the event in 2018.

According to Sir Viv, a National Hero in his native Antigua, the missed opportunities mean there is now an uphill task for the women in the region to get to the level where they can, again, win world tournaments.

“After we would have had the women’s World Cup and after they would have won we haven’t seen the so-called promises we would had here with the tournament being held her in the Caribbean, and we here in Antigua would have seen the hype about the ladies and where we are going, but I think that has been a letdown,” said Richards.

“We would have dropped a few points in that particular category and that’s one of the negatives that I think in order to try and get that momentum again where we once were because it is not looking good at present, and especially with some of the tournaments we would have seen the girls partake in this year also,” he said.

Recently, Cricket West Indies CEO, Johnny Grave, indicated that his organization would be doing all it could to ensure that the regional tournament for women continued despite the fear of COVID-19 spread in the Caribbean.

The CEO was speaking about the Women’s Super50 Cup as well as the inaugural Regional Under-19 Women’s Championship.

“They are very important tournaments, not just in terms of the preparation but in terms of the preparation for the selection of those respective squads as we look to compete in the World Cups of those events due to take place in the early part of 2021,” said Grave.

Shai Hope is the most prolific One-Day International batsman to his first 3000 runs the West Indies has ever seen.

On Sunday, during a losing effort against India , Hope struck a single to get to 35 runs and with it, reached 3,000 runs in ODIs.

Sir Vivian Richards, long known as the most fearsome ODI batsman the West Indies has ever seen, took 69 innings to get to 3000 runs, while Lara, the greatest the region has produced and arguably the greatest of all time, took 79 innings to do so. Hope was playing his 67th innings on Sunday.

Gordon Greenidge, who formed part of the greatest opening ODI parternships in West Indies history with Desmond Haynes, achieved the milestone in 72 innings, while one of the greatest exponents of white ball cricket, Chris Gayle took 80 innings.

In fact, there has only ever been one batsman in world cricket to get to 3000 runs faster than has Hope, with South Africa’s Hashim Amla owning the record of the quickest to the milestone of all time, getting there in 57 innings.

Hope would go on to score 42, as the West Indies went on to post 315, a total India got to for the loss of six wickets in the 49th over.

On the way to 316-6, Rohit Sharma scored 63, KL Rahul, 77, and Virat Kohli, 85, to smother the efforts of Hope, Nicholas Pooran, 89, and Kieron Pollard, 74.

Hope had also scored 102 not out and 78 in the previous two games, taking his tally to four centuries this calendar year, along with seven half-centuries.

The West Indies lost a T20I series to India, 2-1, and suffered the same result in a three-match ODI series that ended Sunday.

Sir Vivian Richards is in full support of the appointment of Kieron Pollard as white-ball captain of the West Indies, saying the veteran all-rounder brings more aggression to the role than the two men he replaced.

Pollard, who opened his account as ODI captain on Wednesday with an emphatic seven-wicket victory over Afghanistan in Lucknow, India, has had the eye of Richards for the last five years, ever since he won the CPL with the Barbados Tridents.

"I've always admired his captaincy,” said Richards, who has been one of those to have noted a tendency towards passiveness in previous West Indies sides.

Jason Holder, the West Indies Test captain and previous ODI captain, has been criticized for not being aggressive enough on occasion and going into defensive mode too quickly.

“I've always felt that when he played the first CPL T20 at home, he was the best captain,” said Richards.

“I think Barbados Tridents went on to win it [in 2014], and he was the best captain in my opinion, more proactive than the rest of the captains we would have seen,” said Richards.

 I think he's in a good place," he said.

Richards also believes Pollard will benefit from having more talent around him than did his predecessors, Holder and Carlos Brathwaite, former captain of the T20 side.

“There's enough good players around him that can help out as well,” said Richards, referring to newcomers like Brandon King and Hayden Walsh Jr.

Pollard's first course of action as ODI captain was to marshall his troops into dismissing Bangladesh for 194 in 45.2 overs, courtesy of Jason Holder, 2-21, Romario Shepherd, 2-32, Roston Chase 2-31, Sheldon Cottrell, 1-33, and Hayden Walsh Jr, 1-33, sharing the workload. The West Indies batters then made simple work of the total, getting to 197-3 three balls into the 47th over.

Roston Chase, 94, and Shai Hope, 77, were the major contributors to the innings.

Former West Indies captain and legendary batsman, Sir Vivian Richards, believes Hayden Walsh Jr, can reap more success than did the world’s foremost T20 bowler at one time,Samuel Badree.

Badree, once known as the number-one leg spinner in T20 cricket, came into the West Indies line-up in similar fashion to Walsh Jr.

Walsh claimed 22 wickets in the recently concluded Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL), to lead all wickettakers and earn a debut callup to the West Indies.

Sir Viv, just like Walsh Jr is from Antigua and believes the achievement, especially coming from one of the smaller islands, is remarkable, saying he wished the Leeward Islands had picked him more often.

“I think at that particular point, that particular achievement of him getting the most wickets as a spinner and to be coming from these parts, I am wondering what would have happened earlier for him not to have been utilized by the Leewards a little bit more,” Sir Viv pondered.

Walsh Jr’s limited selection in the Leeward Islands side is something Sir Viv believes begs bigger questions about the way the team is selected and their ability to spot talent.

“And so, all these questions need to be asked but I think that certainly, he has thrown his hands in the ring for the next T20 World Cup. I personally believe that he has done well enough to be considered and to be part of that particular unit,” Sir Viv had said before Walsh Jr’s selection to te West Indies’ white ball squads.

Making the comparison to Badree, Sir Viv said:

“And especially with this last performance in terms of being on the winning team with the most wickets, this is how I think Samuel Badree came into contention for the West Indies … I think he came in and he had some success … I don’t think he was as successful as what Hayden Walsh would have [been].”

According to Sir Viv, Walsh Jr can offer more to the West Indies than did Badree because he has other attributes.

To be fair as well, too, he brings so much as well, especially as a spinner; his athleticism in the field. Everything is so brilliant about him, you need some sort of an individual like that for those sort of tournaments,” he said.

Few would have heard of the 27-year-old Antiguan-American before the start of this season but it's safe to say his whirlwind leg break bowling took the competition by storm.  His 22 wickets in 9 matches representing a tournament-high that earned him the Hero Player of the Tournament award.

Twice this season the spinner proved completely unplayable for the opposition, claiming five wickets against the Trinbago Knight Riders and four against the St Lucia Zouks to help catapult the then-struggling team into the playoffs. 

Eventually, it set the stage for one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history with a win over the previously unbeaten Guyana Amazon Warriors in the final.  

Perhaps even fewer would remember the bowler’s forgettable CPL debut season for St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in 2018 where his two overs in just two matches went for a costly 54, with no wickets to show. 

For Walsh, the gentle placing of the CPL crown on a head once plagued with uneasiness, surely once again proved the old adage, the price of success is hard work.

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