Former New Zealand cricketer Ian Smith believes batting legend Vivian Richards would have been a crowd favourite in T20 cricket with franchises willing to pay him more money than current stars like Pat Cummins and Ben Stokes put together.
The West Indian great, who was part of the World Cup-winning squad in 1975 and 1979, is regarded as the most destructive batsman of his era scoring 8540 runs in 121 Tests and another 6721 runs in 181 ODIs before announcing his retirement in 1991.
“I believe Viv Richards would have made a go at cricket in any format in any decade. That’s why, I mean you look at his strike rate which was superior to anyone else’s at that time that is a T20 strike rate without even having that game in his mind,” Smith said on ICC’s video series ‘Inside Out’.
The former New Zealand keeper stated that Richards would have easily been the most sought after player had he played T20 cricket. Team owners would have paid more money to him than the likes of Cummins and Stokes- the two highest-paid cricketers in IPL- put together, according to Smith.
“He would have been an absolute legend in T20 cricket. They would have paid more money than Pat Cummins, Ben Stokes and all other guys put together, to get Viv Richards in their line-up, because it would put more bums on the seats. He would have been an absolute crowd-pleaser and television would have gone through the roof. I will sum it up by saying that whenever you sit down and pick all-time World XI, he is always in mind,” Smith said.
Although players have gone on to make several records over the years only a few can intimidate bowling attacks like the West Indian great did in his time.
“I don’t think I have ever in that time I played or commentated cricket seen a more imposing batsman come to the crease. There have been some really fine players who looked like they are very confident when they come to the crease, they own the situation. But no man has been more imposing to the point where I think opposition attacks and fieldsmen were intimidated by him,” Smith said
At a time when the fast bowlers used to terrorise batsmen, Richards was an exception. He personified confidence and would face the best bowlers at display while constantly chewing gum.
“He came out, never wore a helmet he had his beautiful west Indian cap, slightly to the side , Rastafarian arm band, a bat that looks like a toothpick in his hands and he was ready for a fight. It was really intimidating. He’s one of the guys I used to stand behind think I have to concentrate so much on what he used to do because he might offer me a chance and I can’t be carried away with his presence or what he’s done. I have to concentrate on my job. Because if I let him go we’ll have to pay dearly and ten folds,” Smith said recalling his encounters with Richards.