Birthday special: Richie Richardson – The keystone of West Indies’ rise and fall

Born in Five Islands Village, Antigua on 12th January 1962, Sir Richard Benjamin Richardson was one of the most stylish and flamboyant batsmen of world cricket. The destructive right-handed batsman was widely recognized for his wide-brimmed maroon sun hat that he wore instead of a helmet while batting throughout his cricket career.

Richardson was the most successful West Indies batsman during the late eighties and early nineties, however, from the very beginning he was haunted by the comparisons with his Antigua senior Sir Viv Richards. Despite being labelled as the shadow of one of the greatest cricketers West Indies has ever produced, Richardson rose through the ranks and created his own identity with his class batting and exemplary leadership.

The opening batsman was added in the squad for the West Indies tour of India in 1983 as a back-up for opening pair of Greenidge and Haynes. He finally got his maiden Test cap in the fourth match of the series on November 24 at Wankhede Stadium. However, Richie had an inauspicious debut as he was wrongly adjudged leg-before-wicket for a duck in his first innings.

Richardson hogged the limelight during another series against India in 1988-89 as he smashed an impressive 194 at Georgetown in the first Test followed by a marvellous 99 at Port of Spain despite suffering from a finger fracture. The Antigua batsman ended the marquee series with a 156 at Kingston in the final Test.

After that, there was no looking back for Richie Richardson as he created a reputation for himself by amassing a whopping 5,949 runs in 86 Test games along with 6,248 runs in 224 One Day Internationals at an average of 33.4.

While seeing Richie Richardson bat it was nothing less than a visual delight as he was equally impressive as a captain too. He took over the reins from the charismatic Sir Viv Richards in 1991, under whom the West Indians had never lost a series. Both Richards and Richardson exhibited contrasting personalities as a captain because Viv was volatile and explosive while Richie was a calm and composed leader.

Richie had a forgettable start while donning the captain’s hat as West Indies failed to perform up to the mark in ICC World Cup 1992, hosted in Australia. However, by the time he ended his leadership role, he had won 11, lost 6 with the rest ending in a draw out of 24 Test matches. Also, in his four years of captaincy, he only lost one series against Australia in 1995.