Both Viv Richards and Richie Richardson (99.9 % sure about the latter)
never used any sort of head gear according to my memories and that
of cricket commentator Tony Cozier.
True, Vivian Richards never used a helmet in his cricketing career, in
his autobio, he mentions that, in his opinion, him wearing a helmet
would imply that he was not confident about his ability to face the
short ball, and, knowing the man, it is'nt surprising that he never
bothered with a helmet... In one of his columns for an Indian newpaper
he (or his 'ghost' :-)) said pretty much the same thing, interestingly,
in the same column, he paid Kris Srikkanth a terrific compliment, this
was when Srikkanth had hit a West Indian attack of Patterson (at his
quickest), Walsh, Benjamin and Davis all over the place -- prompting
Viv to say that "his (Srikkanth's) attitude to fast bowling reminds
me of my own..."
Richie Richardson too, has never worn a helmet for any significant
length of time (has he worn one at all ? -- to the best of my knowledge,
no.) Richardson not wearing helmet is more amazing than Viv Richards
not wearing one since helmets were standard gear even at the time when
Richie made his debut. But then, Richie did model himself on Richards
in more ways than one...
This includes their facing their own fast
bowlers in the local WI island competitions and against other nations'
speedsters, e.g., Thommo, Lillie, Pascoe, McDermott, Younis, Khan (I), Willis,
Hadlee, Malcolm, Donald, ...
Indeed, yes... Richards played Thommo at his quickest in 1975-6, and
acquited himself pretty decently, especially in the last two tests,
he opened the innings in these two tests, and made 30, 98, 50 and 101
in the four innings, and bowlers like Lillee, Pascoe, Imran, Hadlee,
Malcolm (rated as "quicker than anyone in the WI side" in the 1990
series), McDermott and Akram are'nt significantly slower than Roberts,
Holding, Marshall, Croft and Garner, so claims that Viv could'nt play
fast bowling are as tenous as claims that Gavaskar could'nt play spin
bowling since he never faced the Indian spin quartet, in my opinion,
both the West Indian fast bowlers and the Indian spinners can consider
themselves lucky that they did'nt have to contend with Richards and
Gavaskar repectively :-)
Richards' average in inter-island cricket is not likely to be overly
revealing since he was hardly likely to take them too seriously, being
prone to treat even test matches casually, esp. towards the latter
part of his career.
BTW, I believe Phil Simmons started using protection after he nearly
died from a hit on the head some years ago (from C. Lewis or D.
Malcolm ?) .
Phil Simmons was hit on the head by David Lawrence and had to spend
weeks in hospital, he too never wore a helmet, till that injury, that
is. During one of the tests in the 1988 (?) series, one of the English
commentators interviewed Simmons in one of the rain breaks, Phil
said that he had completely lost sight of the ball around two deliveries
before this one, and had appealed for bad light, the umpire asked the
batsmen to bat on, and Simmons said that he lost sight of the next one
and it hit him on the head...
Venky (Venkatesh Sridharan.