By Neto Baptiste
Despite having scored a whopping 8,540 runs with a highest of 291 in 121 Tests, and another 6,721 in 187 ODI matches, legendary batsman and former West Indies captain, Sir Viv Richards, said the real satisfaction came from seeing the pride and joy instilled in every single Black fan in and around the stadium, and by extension the world, every time his team would triumph.
Sir Viv, whose stance against racism was magnified when he and others turned down blank-cheque offers to play for a rebel West Indies squad in South Africa during the apartheid era in 1983, and again in 1984, saw his ability with the bat as an opportunity to stand up for his race, his brothers who could not stand for themselves.
“I am there, I’ve got a platform, and there are times you see things that are not right and I can’t sit back and allow it, and especially when, most times when you’re giving your inspirational stuff like just before the team talk and all of that, my first thing would always be to remember the people we are representing. This is just not for us here [playing], but about the people we are representing and what it does,” he said.
“If it’s fair to be said, that period of time when West Indies was doing well Caribbean people were at their happiest so it’s this sense of pride that it gives to people and to me, you can’t beat that,” he added.
The South African rebel tours were a series of seven cricket tours staged between 1982 and 1990. They were known as the rebel tours because the international cricketing bodies banned South Africa from competitive international cricket throughout this period because of apartheid.
Sir Viv said that turning down what was probably the most lucrative offer for any cricketer at the time was probably one of the easiest decisions he’s ever made, encouraging today’s players to stay grounded and humble no matter the circumstances.
“It was nothing like what it is today but you were appreciative of what it was then, and I have no problems with these sorts of things. The thing that would really amaze me is that from where I would have grown up from, and to see where I ended up and the things that, sometimes, you get in your life in terms of the appreciation from all walks of life, you just can’t beat that. I would say to folks who have this sort of negative idea about sports is that it can take you places man. It has taken me to a place where I should be flying, but I remained grounded,” he said.
Sir Viv also scored 1281 runs in World Series Cricket with five tons at an average of over 55, which was regarded as the highest and most difficult cricket ever played. As a captain, he won 27 of 50 Test matches and lost only eight.