Mumbai: Few have, and will ever play the game like Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, who turns 60 on Wednesday. Landmark birthday notwithstanding, cricket lovers don't remember the exact number of runs he scored or the centuries he tallied. They don't have to, for true brilliance need not be quantified. And he stayed the most feared batsman for oppositions till he bid goodbye to international cricket in 1991. Or like his former teammate Jeff Dujon once said, "when Viv walked in to bat, the fielders automatically went deeper."
Excerpts from an interview:
Are you one who is afraid of ageing?
Not at all. I have no fears of this particular stuff because I have always trained my mind to be as fresh as the moment that I am living in. I am thankful to God and his guidance. There are too many people who think about of how they did things yesterday and the changes we see today. Sometimes, we get a bit frustrated and stressed out about changes. I stay as fresh as I can and basically roll with the tide. I am quite happy to be part of yesterday and today.
You now join a lot of your cricketing friends in Club 60...
I am delighted to join them; no problem with that. To average over 60 in any form of the game is a good feeling (laughs).
How are you going to celebrate your 60th birthday?
Nothing too special. I have a few friends over from England, Australia and New Zealand. Ian Botham, Richard Hadlee, Garfield Sobers and Everton Weekes will be part of a golf tournament on Wednesday which will raise money for Breast Friends, a breast cancer organisation. I will spend the day to help raise some funds.
Has IVA Richards mellowed down in other spheres of life?
Yes. There have to be times to be laid back and a little relaxed. A times, you've got to be little circumspect. As the years go by, you mellow down.
You last played international cricket in 1991. Do you miss the game?
No. I am just happy and excited to see the game in different formats. I love to see the Indian Premier League.
I would have seen the Bangladesh Cricket League, the Big Bash in Australia and the Twenty20 here in the Caribbean. I guess, it's the same game of cricket, but I am excited to see the different changes, the enthusiasm of fans and the performances of the players themselves. The game has become so sellable and I am delighted with that.
You seem happy with the general health of the game. But, what do you dislike of modern-day cricket?
I would like to see the boundaries being extended a bit. With the kind of bats they have nowadays, even an inside edge goes a long way. The boundaries do need to be pushed back a few yards. It will help bowlers too. People come to see guys hit sixes over and over again and when the boundaries are a bit small, it appears a bit far-fetched; looks pre-planned.
Who in current-day cricket bats like you?
There are so many. Since I am closer to him in the Caribbean, Chris Gayle is as close as anything else. I look at Sehwag, who is exciting as anything you can see. There are the Gambhirs, Kohlis, so many guys doing it. I guess the Twenty20 game has helped in a big way to highlight some of these big-hitters like Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Bravo.
Finally, what is it that you love about India?
I have always been passionate about that part of the world. There are a lot of cricketers in commentary positions, who, during a period of time didn't want to tour India. They thought India was maybe the worst place on earth to tour. Now India has become a lucrative place to be in. I always felt touring India was one of the greatest experiences ever. I have never ever been scared to have a few spices in my tummy. The food has always been good and you can't get anything better. I still love my lady finger (bhindi) dishes!