Sir Vivian Richards was a part of a West Indies team that completely dominated the cricket world. And so it is quite expected that the current scenario of West Indies cricket, where they are even struggling to compete against the top teams in Test cricket, is making the legendary cricketer disappointed. The former swashbuckling batsman recently had an interview with Cricbuzz, where he spoke on various topics ranging from West Indies cricket, Virat Kohli, Test cricket and much more.
On whether the financial power of T20 cricket is the main reason of West Indies’ poor performance in Tests:
There are a lot of individuals who want to take shortcuts and play just for T20 leagues across the world. By shortcuts, I mean, the attraction of Big Bash and IPL leagues is too strong and they are truly ignoring the spirit of the game. They must remember that at the very beginning, Test cricket was all we had, and then the shorter formats came much later. So we need to exercise some sort of control over this player movement.
Personally, I do not think there is much substance in T20 cricket. All of the great players of this game – the Gavaskars, the Tendulkars, the Bradmans – they have come from Test cricket. And if we put too much emphasis on other formats, we will lose all those great performances over the years. Tests are the caviar of cricket, and the administrators need to lay a strong foundation here.
Can they say, we are going to put aside a period for Test cricket, and all the teams in the world have to play this format at this time? If this happens, then maybe you can justify the focus on other formats as well. But otherwise, if players keep skipping one format to play in another financially lucrative format, then that will only create a mass exodus of players who just want to play T20 cricket. It will ultimately kill off Test cricket then.
On the much debated two-tier Test system:
I do not think we have enough teams in world cricket playing at a consistently high level for the two-tier structure to come into effect. If it happens, then there will only be a few countries playing each other at the top. People must remember that many of these strong teams at present were weak once upon a time, India included. The great West Indies team used to beat them within three days at times.
But we didn’t stop playing them. So the contribution of West Indies made to world cricket cannot be denied. It needs to be remembered now when we are on our knees and the tables have turned. We need all the help to get us back where we once were, and two-tier Test proposal is not necessarily the way to do it.
On whether the holder of number one rank getting frequently changed is a good thing for Test cricket:
It is certainly beneficial for Test cricket, and it is nice to have competition because it makes the sport healthy. When you have such intense competition, you get an idea where you are as a team, and it helps you improve even further. I thought Pakistan played well in England, and they have done well in the UAE against the best teams. Australia have had a hiccup in Sri Lanka, and I think England are in the mix too.
Of course, it is a pity that India didn’t get a full game in Port of Spain and couldn’t enhance their ranking. But look at the positive side – they can do it on home soil in their next Test series (against New Zealand). It would be a perfect opportunity for them in my opinion, and doing it in front of their fans, it will help Test cricket’s representation among the spectators. It will help bring more people in through the gates, which is what you want in the end.
On whether day-night Test is the future of cricket:
I think weather conditions are an important factor with the pink ball. In England, for example, you can get four seasons in one day. So it will be interesting to see how they will counter it. But some other countries have the perfect weather for it, for example in India or the Caribbean or in the UAE. However, the problem is how long the pink ball lasts there. Earlier we used to have the same problem when we transformed from the red to white ball, but they might be close to finding a solution to this problem.
Overall, I think there is nothing wrong with the idea of pink ball cricket. We have to change the face of Test cricket for us to bring more spectators to the ground. We need the best ways to enhance the game, and we need some experimentation for it. If the pink ball is the way to do it, there is nothing wrong with it.
On the recently concluded four-match Test series between India and West Indies:
In the very first match itself, India outplayed the West Indies and did not let go off that hold. The Antigua Test set the tone and winning 2-0 obviously proved to be an easy task. Judging from what I have seen through the series, India looks like a very well-rounded side, and a far superior team at this level against the West Indies. I would go on to say that they are a complete side at present. I am so impressed with their seam attack; Mohammed Shami, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvneshwar Kumar. And perhaps they should have won 3-0, maybe even 4-0, but the weather did play its part. I guess that is consigned to history now.
On people always comparing Virat Kohli with him and his opinion on the batting star:
Virat is Virat. Sometimes you see certain similarities in an attitude of individuals. And he has an attitude that suggests he wants to succeed. He is aggressive and believes in the package that he has. And that to me is the best quality any individual can have, believing in what you do, believing in the players around you. Yes, at times he will be tested, and it has happened in the past, like in England (2014) or when he first came here to the West Indies.
Back then, he wasn’t the player he is today, and he has shown vast improvement since then. So he will have bad times but as long as he has the belief, nothing can stop him. And this was the one thing that was most impressive to me as an individual, seeing the confidence that he exudes. It is the confidence that you need at this level. To me, he seems to have an enormous passion for doing well in this game.
On Indian batting line-up:
Oh, it has been good and looks very strong. India only played six batsmen, and that too with R Ashwin in that position. Going forward I am not sure about this move, but he has certainly passed the test here. Ajinkya Rahane is brilliant and I have been very impressed with KL Rahul as well. Wriddhiman Saha has done well because it is hard to replace MS Dhoni. But he is on the right track. You hardly hear him being noticed and he is a quite achiever in my opinion.