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On Sachin's [Tendulkar] current form

Tendulkar Richards: I have seen this problem with Sachin these days, and especially in Antigua; he doesn't looked as relaxed as he used to at the crease. That I feel, in my mind, is because, maybe, he is getting close to some milestones. The freedom he used to play with is not there anymore. If you have a bad time here and there, it doesn't make you a bad player overnight. Sachin is a magnificent player and he will always be a magnificent player. What I think he should do now is just keep enjoying his game; I think he is just a little tense, and when you are tense you will not be able to get things done how you would like. All the England players know what he is capable of and his day will come soon.

On his family of sportsmen...

Richards: I have three brothers and they all played for Antigua, and football as well. We had a little bit of a spark in terms of the sport inside the family. My brother was a soccer player and a coach. When you have four boys in the house it's going to be some heavy stuff. My father had a way of keeping discipline in the house, and when he wanted to make sure that we did our homework before we went out and played, he decided that one way of showing us the disciplined side of things was to hide our trousers. And us kids, we had our manhood to protect, and I think that sort of discipline helped me in a very big way. My father wanted to make sure that we got all our education and after that we were free to play as much as we wanted to.

On how much did his stint at Alf Govers academy help his cricket, and would he have flourished had he not come down to England...

Richards: What I feel is that people sometimes forget that I came to England already knowing how to play cricket; and that was the most important thing -- playing the West Indian way; and that is the way you would like to play, even though you admire people. It was nice to go to Alf Govers academy, because you learnt of a tight of a tight defense and that was of vital importance, because when you play on nice firm wickets, these things don't come into play at all. When I went there I was taught just the basic side of things, the real technical side and I guess that paid some dividend. When I came to England to fulfill my contract with Somerset, yes it was something I needed to have on the board.

Michael Holding Michael Holding (former West Indian player): My earliest memories of Viv was when he played against Jamaica, just walking out to the crease and playing lots of shots. Initially, when everyone saw him, they knew that he was a very talented batsman but he would not hang around the crease a lot, he would get out and he would make a good 30 or 40 with lots of fours and then he would depart. But everyone knew that eventually he would get it all together and be a top class batsman.

On whether when he came to play at Somerset he was calmed down...

Richards: Well, yes. Someone said that when you play under different conditions, you have to adapt very quickly and England was all part of that... the ball swung around and I had never had the opportunity before to play outdoors. Coming to England it was all different; you would find some little guy who would run up and just throw his arm over and wobble the ball around, and just looking at him run you knew you could take some liberties.

You have to love your cricket, I have been a great lover of my sport. I love to bat and I love everything to do with cricket, and getting the opportunity to come and play in England was something I needed to give me the so-called experience that one needs; and the more you play, the more you will be able to adapt to different conditions and, maybe, curb your natural conditions and things like that.

On how was it to play against someone like Ian Botham, who was a fierce competitor and also someone he was close to...

Richards: When you are a professional, you will have friends in the same profession and that is what its all about. That other guy is trying to knock you out and you are trying to do the same to him. I always knew what I wanted to get done and there was no way that I was going to be taken in by Ian and his friendly style, because I knew that deep down it was all aggression and if he did get me out at that time, you would hear all about it.

Ian Botham (former England captain): Well, it was pretty difficult when you are growing up together, which we did, and we shared a house for about 10 years. He has god fathered my son Liam, so we go back a long way. I always regard Viv as my elder brother; that's the way I always see him. We had a lot of great times together and he helped me and I helped him in many ways and we pushed each other to go do further things. It was a great period in our lives; we are the best of mates now, and we don't see each other as much as we would like to; but when we do, we have fun.

On his first experience of playing in India...

Richards: I remember the first time we played, we played in Bangalore, and I never forget this... just the fire crackers and everything was crazy, because here I am and I see 70,000 people in the crowd; maybe more people that on the island that I live, and that for me was huge; and as I was going out from the stairs all theses firecrackers and bombs just went off and all of a sudden I slipped and fell straight to the bottom; and I somehow didn't feel like Viv; then the brief innings that I played gave an indication of how I felt. I remember, I got out for 32 and 4 in that same match.

I found that Chandra was difficult to play, and, lucky for me, because he didn't play for the second match I made 192 and that was the confidence that you needed to play Test matches. The Indian tour was very special for me. My father used to say that if you go to India and start playing all the best spinners in the world then I will start believing in you; but he said that there is still one Test: after you finish India, you will have to go to Australia and play the best fast bowlers in the world. But until now -- he has passed away now -- but he never really told me that I made it.

Former players on his 56-ball century (the fastest in Test history) ...

David GowerDavid Gower (former England captain): What made him special is that he was an awesome batsman; he had the ability to take what would appear as good balls from most bowlers and dispatch them with power and a certain sense of venom away to the boundary. I have seen him destroy good, high quality England bowling attacks. There were two awesome innings I saw him play against us when I was captain: one was a one-day international at Old Trafford, where he got enough runs single-handedly, to beat us. He took the game completely away. They were nine down, Michael Holding comes to the crease and Viv takes over, and from then on, all went West Indies way.

Then in Antigua, where he made then what was the fastest Test match hundred. It was a sense of arrogance, I suppose; nothing rude about that. I think any great player would have a sense of arrogance; that supreme ability and supreme confidence that set him apart.

Michael Holding: Well, I think they have all right to forget who was at the other end; the person at the other end didn't really matter a great deal. I remember him hitting the ball a lot at me, past me, past the umpire, all over the park; and I remember backing up sometime and wondering to myself 'should I be backing up?.' Sometimes I was backing up and sheepishly looking at which way the ball was going; that was just a dynamic innings from Viv. We would talk between overs and sometimes in between balls, and all he would say is 'Mike just stay, all you have to do is just stay at the crease' and that's all I tried to do; just try to block every ball and he just got round and made all the runs.

Ian Botham: I remember bowling one ball to him that was about a foot outside the off stump and he hit it over square leg for 6 and I walked up to him and told him that didn't anyone ever teach you to play in the V and we laughed and we chuckled, but it was a great knock; it was an awesome knock and everyone who saw him... and not just the players but also the lucky people who saw it live or saw it live on television... it was just quite an amazing innings. He is, in my opinion, and I can't pay him any more tribute than saying that he is the best player that ever lived.

Richards: It's nice to hear individuals say these things; it sounds good, but I always felt I was just okay enough to do whatever was to be done. There are so many players that I have admired myself. When I was named as one of Wisden Top 5 cricketers of the century, I didn't feel no way of any particular joy; I felt joy enough that I was satisfied. There were so many players that I admired myself who weren't in the picture. I would have loved to have dedicated what I had done then to all the great cricketers gone by, because I felt that it was just a little naughty in some way that there were only these five cricketers when there were so many great cricketers who I had seen, and individuals who had inspired me.

On him being proud of his origins...

Richards: I remember when we used to be in England too and I used to wear the red, white and blue band and no one said anything. And then, when I wore red, gold and green... and all of a sudden I became a rasta and I am a black power; but I felt that this is what I represented. I read a lot about my culture, my ancestors and various things, and I wanted to know what all these things meant -- the red meant all the blood which was shed in Africa; the green for the greenery of the land itself, and the yellow for the gold and all the richness, which some of the pioneers of that time took away... and this is all part of my culture. The Jews. I think. remember a lot about the holocaust; I am going to remember about all the slavery, because all that is part of who I am and I have no regret about that.

Clive Lloyd Clive Lloyd (former West Indian captain): I think it is the way he approached his cricket; very intense sort of person, always wanting to win and always wanting to do well. And I remember just one incident in Trinidad: he had a hip problem and I asked him if he wanted me to go before him; but he just took an injection and went out and batted and did extremely well. So that is the sort of guy he is. He would do anything for the team and always wanted to win and the respect that he has got from people throughout the world is because of the way he played his cricket, he is loved by all really and I was very lucky to have him in my side.

On his experience with sledging...

Richards: Well, I first encountered it when we went to Australia and there Dennis Lillee was one of the main men when it comes to that and there were a lot of people in our team who were rather timid about this stuff; and I remember this encounter when I played a defensive shot and he turned to me and said 'you love yourself don't you?' and I said 'yes, I have been watching you' and that was it. All these things made me feel broader and taller and stronger and I loved it. That is the stuff that I miss and I always wanted to look in the eye; I was not afraid of it because it created that very competitive nature and that is the stuff that you need sometimes to get stronger.

Ian Botham: He was just a terrific guy and I did a lot of batting with him at the other end while playing for Somerset, and one thing that I learned is that you have to be a very good counter, cause when he is facing and when it gets to ball 5 or 6 and he wants the strike and if you don't run you get run-out; so I used to turn my back to him on the last ball but he still managed to get it for one.

On his advice to youngsters who want to achieveSir Vivian Richards

Richards: There are times when we go out and do things just because we are rash and we don't quite have a plan of what we want done. My father used to say that do some crawling before you learn to walk; I don't want to be critical of the players today but I see some who want to walk before they can crawl. You have to stay as positive as you can and believe in yourself and have respect for the game; and it is always nice to take advice. I can only tell the youngsters this that as a young individual, if you know the way, then you can lead the way; and the one who knows the way will go all the way.

Also read:
King Richards turns 50 - A rediff special

- courtesy (c) ESPN-STAR Sports. The transcript of Sir Vivian Richards' interview on Harsha Online, that was aired on STAR Sports.


Design: Uday Kuckian

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