Looking for an iconic name to bolster the credentials of your national stadium? Antigua really struck luckily. The Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is in North Sound just 15 minutes from Antigua’s capital St John’s. Like many in the region, it was built for the 2007 Cricket World Cup and hosted a number of Super 8 matches. Normally holding 10,000 it can cater for double that with extra seating. Despite its newness, it already has a nickname and a slightly chequered Test history. It’s been dubbed ‘Beach 366’ – Antigua boasts 365 beaches – as its sandy outfield led to the cancellation of the England Test in 2009. An ICC enquiry led to its suspension but after a little beach cleaning, it returned to host international cricket in 2011.
Sir Vivian Richards – the Master Blaster
It could have been Curtly but in the end, there was no contest. Sir Viv Richards is, without doubt, Antigua’s finest ever sportsman. In fact, he’s not just the finest Antiguan cricketer of all-time but also among the top five of the 20th century alongside Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Shane Warne. In 2002 Wisden also named him greatest ODI batsman of all time. What was the secret of this legend’s cricketing ‘Vivacity’? A combination of power, attack and a fierce will to win.
During Viv Richards’ test playing career, he adopted a fearless style of play which made him a perennial crowd favourite. He never wore a helmet – despite facing a succession of fast bowlers. His swagger endeared him to fans and intimidated opponents. Was cricket more fun in those days? It was with Viv. He became an idol for a generation of cricketers around the world who tried to mimic his trademark drives through midwicket and masterful hooks.
And the style was definitely backed by substance. From the outset, he blasted the opposition – an unbeaten 192 in his second ever test in 1974 – and made 8,540 runs in 121 Test matches. He won 27 of the 50 matches he captained, losing only eight. His average of 50.23 is the envy of most openers. But there was a darker, more competitive, side to Richards at times. His finger-wagging appeal led to the incorrect dismissal of Rob Bailey in the Barbados Test of 1990. Undignified? Ungentlemanly? For many, Richards was merely following in a long line of cricketing legends who employed a little gamesmanship!
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