MELBOURNE – Legendary West Indies batsman Sir Viv Richards, 60, returned to the scene of some of his triumphs yesterday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in Australia and invariably the subject of what impact he would have had on Twenty20 cricket came up.
“I would have been happy to play the shots some of these young guys do today,” he said.
And when he was asked whether he might consider picking up a bat again if a plague of injuries struck the Melbourne Stars, who he has agreed to mentor when the Big Bash League begins its second season next month, his answer suggested part jest and part wishful thinking.
“I doubt it. I’m a little long in the tooth for that,” he said.
“But don’t look at my age. I’ve never been a quitter. So you never know.”
But Richard’s role will be strictly off-field, and not really defined at that – he’s there to provide advice, inspiration and motivation.
With Shane Warne as the new captain, Ian Chappell chairman of selectors, Brad Hodge having been poached from the rival Renegades to be both star batsman and batting coach and a clutch of other well-known identities joining the support staff, Richards will ensure the Stars are, if nothing else, well named.
When a group of sightseers walking the boundary caught sight of Sir Vivian on the ground, their cameras were clicking in a flash.
The great man said he was excited to be “back at the scene of the crime” where he had many memories of both success and failure.
There wasn’t much of the latter – he averaged better than 50 in Test and One-Day cricket at the great stadium.
He made a formidable Test double century in 1984 and two other scores in the 90s.
Also there was an unbeaten 153 in a One-Dayer in 1979 that was regarded at the time as a benchmark for explosive batting.
He is a fan of Twenty20, saying: “It is a great provider of what you miss in the longer version. It has connected with many young people and you have to move with the times.
“If handled properly and everything goes according to plan, all these various competitions can be eating out of each other’s hand.
“These young people have taken (cricket) to another level, the shots they play, things like that.”
Asked if bigger bats and shorter boundaries had made the game easier, he said: “I wouldn’t say that. The demands are just as huge.
“It’s important to keep it exciting. That’s what T20 is about – to make it as exciting as possible for everyone involved.”
Richards played his last Test four months before Warne played his first, denying fans the chance to watch what would have been a fascinating contest between two of the greatest talents ever.
They are huge admirers of each other. It was Warne’s idea to get Richards to the Stars. And Richards agrees Warne would have been a great Test captain if he had been given the chance.
“He understands the game in and out. With his achievements, the part he would have played is just phenomenal,” he said.
“Anywhere Shane Warne is and anything he is involved with I guess is successful – it’s just the nature of the individual.”