Swagger no more, 'King' Richards is on a mission

Written by: D Ram Raj
Published: Thursday, October 3, 2002, 11:17 [IST]
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Bangalore: The swagger and the gum chewing is no more. Though West Indian batting legend Vivian 'King' Richards sports a baggy short and T-shirt, he is a much mellowed person than what he was even two years ago when he was in Bangalore for the launch of a weekly cricket rating system for international players - no defunct. As chairman of selectors, Richards envisions a West Indian team of the future where a Sarwan or others would do a "Sehwag" and would become the talk of the cricketing media. Though not officially on his agenda, Richards agreed to informally chat with reporters at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium during West Indian team's first full net session on Indian soil.

Richards was confident that the present bunch of "young and talented" West Indian players would blossom into a good world beating side in the future. Harping on his debut on India, which then catapulted him to glory as well as to the throne of the "King" of West Indian cricket, Richards felt that the present Indian tour too would augur well for some of the current crop of players.

Recalling that Andy Roberts and Malcolm Marshall too went on to greater achievements after their tours of India, Richards hoped some of the present crop of West Indian pacers too would emulate their predecessors.

Given below is a word by word transcription of Richards' informal talk with reporters at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium

How does it feel to be back in Bangalore?

I made my first Test match debut here, it is great to be back, I can't remember how many runs, it wasn't much runs that I scored, but it was great, it is nice to be back in the place where I started it off.

How do you rate the current West Indian side?

Well we got a good, young bunch and this what its about. I have been reading some reports may be about Brian Lara not being here and that's no fault of ours, sometimes ill health, sometimes step into play. But what I can say is we do have a bunch of talented individuals here. Individuals, which I believe, may be that's why they have been picked for them to give a reasonable account of themselves.

Your impressions about the Indian side...

Well it is a good side so far, I think they have played pretty well in Sri Lanka. It is a pity that the rain had to interrupt, because I think India at times were the better team playing those two particular finals. But, yes we're hoping that we can give them a good fight. It would be a great cause for us to judge ourselves on how well we play against the Indians.

How difficult is to beat India in India?

It is always very difficult, it is going to be hard. As you know whenever you are participating in sport, you never say never. Regardless of how good I think the Indian team are at this particular point, we have got be confident with ourselves and in ourselves that sometimes good things do crumble and we have got to think along those lines.

What is that extra something that we can look for in this team?

Well, if we can may be go back into history a little bit one can say that when Vivian Richards made his first tour here after that he never looked back (laugher all round). We are hoping that some of these young individuals after this particular trip that you'll be hearing lots more about them and in the years to come.

Do you think our knowledge of Indian conditions would be an advantage?

Yes, I think that would be filled in that particular capacity, because some of our guys are pretty new to Indian conditions. Having toured here in the past on numerous occasions, it does give you the qualification to may be to part some of that knowledge and things to look for and the things not to look for, wickets and what's it going to take to succeed in India. I'm certain one can help in those particular departments.

Your comments on Virender Sehwag...

Yes, I have watched him and he's pretty exciting. I think world cricket needs these sort of characters and let's hope after this tour is finished that you may ask me a question about may be a Sarwan or Samuels and things like that. It's encouraging and I'm quite certain these individuals must have seen him as well and we need to learn as well, as well as to succeed.

Do you see a marked change in the attitude of the West Indian players, vis-À-vis a few years ago?

Well, I think judging from what we have seen and some of the performances which we have seen in Sri Lanka, I do believe that there is a renewed spirit and there is new... renewed sort of vigour on how these individuals would like to succeed, gradually it is getting there. Things don't happen quite overnight.

But, let us hope they continue to feel that way. One felt a sense of pride when they lost that match against South Africa (in the Champions Trophy league) and I think we were the better team in that particular match. But, sometimes, the better team never always wins. But, I think we can take well out of stuff from that game and it's certainly encouraging for us in the future.

How do you rate the present West Indian pace attack?

It looks good in my view. Some wouldn't be here if we hadn't picked them and you have all the belief in them. India has always been a trip where somebody has come out of it...a world-beater. Let us hope that some of the young individuals I believe, when Andy Roberts first toured here he went on to greater things... and Malcolm Marshall as well, I think he made his debut here as well, that all these factors may be motivating factors for individuals, who would like to represent West Indies on a long-term basis. So, here is not a bad place in my view to start.

What about Ricardo Powell?

Well...Ricardo Powell didn't quite - you saw him in a one off sort of situation - live up to the expectations and even though we know he is still an enormous talent. He is still a young man, we haven't quite forgotten him. I would like to believe that still there's time and may be you may come and ask me he is back and he is done well... we expect him to be a little more consistent. If he does that I can't see why he can't be around.

We heard your daughter plays football...

Which daughter... I have got a daughter in Antigua as well...(the one India, there was nice TV story of her playing football)...Well that's good, the last time I was there she played a lot of tennis as well.

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