ST JOHN’S (ANTIGUA): A stadium and a street are named after him. In front of the stadium’s main entrance also stands his statue that he had unveiled two years back. From ‘Sir’ to ‘King’ and ‘Champ’, the people of Antigua are spoilt for choices to greet their hero. And yet Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards stays rooted to the ground. There was guarded anticipation that he might show up any day. Richards had already paid the India team a visit at their hotel. But this being the first time India are playing a Test at a ground named after him, the West Indies legend had to come here some time.
It was an unexpected rendezvous, bumping into the legend himself at the waiting lounge of the stadium. The customary exchange of greetings followed, and nearly two hours later, when Viv was finally free of various obligations at the ground, he didn’t waste a minute to go and meet the West Indies team. Carlos Brathwaite almost immediately went up to him and listened with rapt attention to whatever Richards had to tell him. “Those are my boys. I am proud of them,” said Richards.
And how was the experience of meeting Virat Kohli? “Great! It was actually a privilege to meet Virat. He still has that hunger after achieving so much. Having seen him play over the years, I am an admirer because I like guys who are aggressive, guys who know they are good enough and can confront any hostile attack. I am happy to see guys with some skill who have got a serious will to prove themselves,” he said.
A living example of how aggression tempered with little patience can reap both runs and wins, Richards thinks that the present crop of players who get dismissed too quickly might have got issues with their defence. “Sometimes adjustments that need to be made are not made quickly,” he said. But he sounded both happy and relieved that some players have shown how it can be done. “Look at Virat, AB de Villiers or David Warner from Australia. All of them are attacking players who have been able to accomplish themselves well. Some guys will adjust to the various formats much quicker than the rest,” he said.
Richards has no doubt that despite all predictions that West Indies would be no match to India’s might, the home team might just pop a surprise. “I think it’s going to be a much more competitive series.”