This is an excerpt from "All Round View", Imran Khan's autobiography.
This has been copied without permission, I hope no copyrights have
Where batsmen are concerned, Vivian Richards stands head and shoulders
above everyone else. His greatness lies not only in his talent, but
also in his determination. He has immense pride in himself and in his
team. He has the best reflexes of any batsmen I have come across.
When I first played against him, in the West Indies, I was not a
genuine fast bowler, but I did vary my pace a bit. He played me
almost as if I were a spinner; to block my inswing, he would put his
front foot down and across the wicket. I would continue at medium
pace and then try to surprise him with a bouncer; although he was
on the front foot he would merely lean back and hit the ball over
mid wicket. I had a recurring nightmare on that West Indies tour, that
Viv and I were two Wild West gunslingers, and had to draw against each
other. In dreams you are slow anyway, and it is not hard to imagine
how I felt trying to outdraw Viv Richards.
Richards has had a great deal to do with the West Indian supremacy
over the years. He has gone out against fast bowlers like Lillee and
Thomson, and has not just tried to stay there but has gone for them
and knocked them about as though he was playing in a school match.
This attitude makes it easier for the following batsmen, who realise
that the bowlers are only human; and the bowlers confidence is
shattered when their best deliveries are carted about. I remember an
innings Richards played against England in Manchester in 1984. He
came in when Greenidge was 4 or 5; not long afterwards, Richards
was out for 64, by which time Greenidge had moved on to 6 or 7. I
asked Richards afterwards if he had got something against Bob Willis,
because he had been especially *** Willis's bowling. Richards
replied that he was younger, Willis had come out to the Caribbean
with England. He had hooked him once, but was out the second time
he tried it, and called Richards a 'black bastard' as he walked
off; Richards was always keen for revenge. Richards has great pride
in his race and colour. He is capable of rising to the big occasion,
think of all those runs he has scored in big finals at Lord's, or
the huge crowds at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia.
I was amazed when Somerset sacked Richards, because he had always
tried his utmost for his county. Somerset were struggling because
they had a poor team, with no one to back up Richards and Garner.
They did all right in one-day matches, but in the championship
you need good back-up bowlers. Take Hampshire for example; Malcolm
Marshall has done consistently well for them in recent years, but
because their other bowlers are not penetrative enough they've
never won the championship in that time.
On Packer cricket:
It's possible that some of the Australian players may have realised
that the first Packer series could lead to a serious rift in the
cricketing world, but I don't think any of the West Indian, Pakistani
or English players harboured such suspicions. With hindsight, this
seems extremely naive - after all, the Australian Board was unlikely
to take a parallel series lying down. Most of us assumed that some
agreement would be reached that would include Kerry Packer's
Australia versus a World XI project. Little did we know that all hell
was about to break loose. The Australian Board banned their players
who had signed with Packer, and put pressure on the ICC to have the
rest of us banned. Although it was not their problem, the Pakistani
and English Boards fell into line. Those countries whose players
had not been invited by Packer - India and New Zealand - joined the
shrill chorus of denunciation. Only the West Indian controllng body
approached the matter sensibly.
The moment the battle lines had been drawn up, Kerry Packer signed
the whole West Indian team as well as additional English and
Pakistani playes (Mushtaq and Zaheer). The reaction to our signing
with Kerry Packer was so extreme and so ludicrous that the players
closed ranks and were determined to stick it out, even if it meant
forgoing their Test careers for a while. We embarked on a couple
of seasons of Packer cricket with some misgivings, but a good deal
of e***ment at playing with and against the best players in the
world, for Packer cricket was to be the toughest test of skill
and stamina I have ever experienced. On the other hand, it lacked
the tension of Test matches and the adrenalin that flows when one
plays for one's country. Beyond a certain point, it is difficult
to bowl to brilliant batsmen or face a battery of fast bowlers
day after day simply to prove one's individual worth.
Packer cricket was so unremittingly difficult that some batsmen
were permanently scarred by the experience. All three teams, the
West Indies, Australia and the World XI, had such ferocious pace
attacks that there was never any relief. Despite the introduction
of helmets - which were absolutely essential - batting was a
hazardous business. There were no minor games in which a batsman
could recuperate. A few reputations were made, but more were
punctured. Vivian Richards stood out: one could see that he was
in a different class from the Chappell brothers, Barry Richards,
Majid and Greenidge, all of whom were great players, but really
in the second rank compared to Viv at the time. Of the Pakistani
batsmen, Mushtaq, already suspect against pace, vanished into
oblivion. Majid, who had stopped playing for Glamorgan, and had
taken seven months off from cricket, was not prepared for the
calibre of bowling he had to face, and it took him some time to
adjust, he was never quite the batsman he should have been.
Zaheer did not make an impact till the second year. Surprisingly,
Asif Iqbal proved to be not only the best Pakistani batsmen, but
also one of the most succesful middle order batsmen of the Packer
years. Some reputations were damaged beyond repair, particularly
Tony Greig's. His bowling was largely innocuous and his batting
technique was exposed by the barrage of short-pitched bowling,
ironically, one of the main organisers of Packer cricket was
quite unsuited to meet it's special demands.
-- to be continued --
Hope you enjoyed reading it...
Win or lose, forever Windies.
Venky (Venkatesh Sridharan).