It was a surreal feeling meeting Sir Viv Richards, in full Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, when he was in Guwahati as a brand ambassador for the American University of Antigua College of Medicine, a part of the Manipal Group. In spite of his legendary status, his serene and self contained personality had a huge positive impact for those around him. We were completely taken in awestruck by his charisma and elegance.
A glimpse into the life of this extraordinarily brilliant personality begins with mentioning how distinguished he was as one of the most destructive batsman of his era. His batting style exuded power and domination as he would effortlessly banish fastest of bowlers to all parts of the ground. Fearless with an imperious presence he was often regarded as the most exciting batsmen that ever played the game. He drew huge cheers from the crowd as expectations always filled the air when he swaggered and sauntered to the pitch with a demeanor that was intimidating as was his look of calculated menace. He mocked the best of bowlers by never wearing a helmet and coolly chewing gum that infuriated them to bowl even more aggressively. But Sir Viv was the master here and a savage in his assaults as he terrified and demolished the confidence of the most deadly pacers much to the delight of the excited crowd.
Arguably the finest batsman of his generation he scored 8,540 runs in 121 test matches and made 24 test centuries during his career at an impressive average of 50.23. His captaincy of the West Indies team from 1985 to 1991 led them to tremendous international success.
His autobiography, Hitting Across the Line, published in 1991 describes his life story and career right from his childhood in Antigua when he first got involved in sports. Born on 7th March 1952 in Antigua, he is an inspiration to his millions of fans and cricketers all across the globe including our very own batting maestro Sachin Tendulkar. In 1999, Sir Viv had the honour of being knighted by the Antiguan government and in 2000 he was named as one of five Wisden cricketers of the century. Sir Vivian Richards Stadium is an international stadium in North Sound, Antigua, named in his honour.
We were a witness to the immense positive energy of this brilliant man as he motivated each one of us in our respective fields. He was interested to know about my work as an author and boosted me with beautiful and motivating words. He expressed surprise at my being an English novelist as he thought my latest novel that I had shown him would be in our local language. But my husband, Kalyan, told him that in India English is a widely spoken language. Í realised that this was his immense grace and humility to make me feel more encouraged. He encouraged even my children in their passion for swimming. My friend Rangan Bhuyan gifted him an Assam tea packet to which he expressed delight as he inhaled its fragrance. He told us how a cup of tea at the pavilion used to give him energy and josh, which is vigour or energy in Hindi. Surprisingly Sir Viv was aware of the fragrance of the tea and the types. He assured that he would visit the tea estates and a tea factory here in the near future to see how it was made. We were thrilled by his keen interest in our local produce, but that’s Sir Viv – an epitome of motivation and inspiration.
All in all, it was a dream come true and an encounter that would continuously keep me inspired in this beautiful journey called life always filled with wonder and beautiful surprises.
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