Home > Features > Moments in history >

Richie Richardson wearing a helmet defines the end of an era

Geoff Boycott © Getty Images
Richie Richardson was even booed at his home ground for his new headgear. Earlier, Richardson used to wear his trademark hat (above) which symbolised the West Indian bravado  © Getty Images

Richie Richardson’s trademark hat against the most fearsome of fast bowlers was a typical representation of the West Indian bravado at their peak. On April 8, 1995 he shocked the world by emerging in a helmet at St John’s. Abhishek Mukherjee looks at the incident that marked — albeit symbolically — the beginning of the decline of West Indian cricket.

They were a tremendous pack, the West Indians of the 1980s: the terrifying foursome of fast bowlers, the pomp of Viv Richards, an exciting yet vastly contrasting opening pair, a gang of athletic fielders, an acrobatic man behind the stumps, and a grand daddy in the form of Clive Lloyd.

They went, one by one, at the turn of the decade. As Richards, Malcolm Marshall, and Jeff Dujon bowed out at the same time, a huge void was created in West Indies cricket. Men like Brian Lara, Ian Bishop, and Curtly Ambrose had come up to fill the chasm, but it was evident that there was a decline, however slow, in the quality of the overall team.

With Desmond Haynes also quitting and Carl Hooper making only sporadic appearances, the only survivors of the heydays of the 1980s were Courtney Walsh and, of course, their captain: Richie Richardson. They had been unbeaten since 1979-80 and had still held on to that, but for how long?

Richardson had acted as the bridge between the two eras of West Indies cricket: he had seen it all. He had witnessed the pomp and the decline, the glory and the slide, the immortals and the mortals, the ageing and the young. It was the dusk of the golden days, but there was still light. Still.

There was still no helmet, either. Offering Richardson a helmet would have been blasphemy. The white hat (he later changed it to maroon) that was wrapped tightly around his skull in an era when batsmen were seldom witnessed without helmets against quality pace bowling.

It was not required at Kensington Oval, either: in Paul Reiffel, Brendon Julian, and Glenn McGrath Australia had a relatively inexperienced pace attack — but they were good enough to reduce the hosts to six for three on the first morning; Richardson was caught-behind by Julian for three attempting a horribly rash stroke.

He pushed himself down to five, below Hooper, in the second; this time he counterattacked, but it was clear that he was not the same batsman anymore. The confidence was somehow not there. He still managed 36 before Reiffel ran through his defence, and McGrath, coming on as the fourth bowler, finished with five wickets in the innings and eight in the match. Australia went one-up in the series.

West Indies had trailed in a series during their 15-year run, so a single defeat must not have rattled Richardson significantly. What did rattle him, however, was his confidence to handle pace: the Australians had managed to dent the West Indians more effectively than even they had imagined.

The hour

Richardson put the tourists in, and Mark Taylor and Michael Slater added 82 for the opening stand before the Australian captain played an inexplicably uncharacteristic pull off Ambrose; the top-edge landed into the waiting hands of Walsh at deep fine-leg. Then all hell broke loose, and Walsh picked up six for 54 to rout the tourists for 216.

West Indies had dropped Sherwin Campbell to bring in Keith Arthurton and strengthen the middle-order. The crowd knew that the local hero, their captain, the man who had been a part of many a glory day of West Indies cricket, would take on replace Campbell at the top of the order.

What was supposed to be a tumultuous applause turned out to be a collective gasp as Richardson appeared in a helmet. Geoff Boycott commented on air: “Not often do you see Richie (Richardson) in a helmet; and a grille as well.” Michael Holding, accompanying Boycott, informed that Richardson had been using the helmet in that season’s Red Stripe Cup and even in the net-practice sessions at Kensington Oval; but for Boycott, as well as anyone watching the match at the ground or on television, it was an unthinkable spectacle.

Richardson was even booed at his home ground for his new headgear, and when West Indies returned home that afternoon he was yet to open his account. It took him 40 balls to get off the mark, and he eventually fell for a 108-ball 37. Taylor placed David Boon at short mid-on where he leapt “like a Tasmanian salmon” to his left to stop a rampant Lara.

West Indies managed a 44-run lead and Walsh added three more wickets to his tally, but Boon and the Waugh twins batted grittily, enabling Taylor to set a target of 257 from 36 overs. Richardson was bowled by Reiffel for two, and Lara entertained the crowd before the match ended in a draw.

Cricket in West Indies was never the same again. Seldom has a cricket gear brought about a psychological impact of this order. Richardson was still a hero, but not the demigod. Even he had that emotion that one usually associates with mortals: fear.

What followed?

 

  • The incident did turn out to be symbolic. West Indies drew level in the next Test at Queen’s Park Oval thanks to some terrifying bowling from Ambrose, but Australia created history by winning by an innings at Sabina Park; the Waughs added 231 and Reiffel claimed seven wickets. It was the first time that the West Indians had lost a series since their fateful tour of New Zealand in 1979-80.
  • Richardson was never the same batsman again; he scored 229 at 32.71 in that series and bowed out after another series in England, which turned out to be his last. He failed again, managing 275 at a mere 34.37. The helmet continued to stay, though.

Brief scores:

 

Australia 216 (Michael Slater 41; Courtney Walsh 6 for 54) and 300 for 7 decl. (David Boon 67, Steve Waugh 65*, Mark Waugh 61; Courtney Walsh 3 for 92) drew with West Indies 260 (Brian Lara 88; Paul Reiffel 3 for 53, Shane Warne 3 for 83) and 80 for 2 (Brian Lara 43).

(Abhishek Mukherjee is the Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in and can be followed on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ovshake42)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad

More

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts

Photos

Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test: Australia's practice session

Videos

Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Rohit Sharma gave a fantastic account of himself: Sanjay Bangar

Yuvraj Singh flays media for twisting statements on future in international cricket

India A beat Sri Lanka by 88 runs in tour match; Rohit Sharma, Manish Pandey, Karn Sharma shine

Kevin Pietersen saga: Stuart Broad, James Anderson saddened by bullying claims

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane — who should open for India?

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Bangladesh vs Zimbabwe 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

West Indies crisis: Trinidad and Tobago condemns West Indies’ pullout from India tour

MS Dhoni told me there’s nothing called ‘lucky’ or ‘unlucky’: Pankaj Singh

All-India PSU T20 Tournament: Oriental Insurance defeat HPCL

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in favour of Najam Sethi as ICC President

Justice Mudgal Committee report on IPL spot-fixing to be submitted on November 3

Highest identical scores in both innings of a Test

Younis Khan — perhaps Pakistan’s greatest batsman ever

India A vs Sri Lankans tour match: Players look to make the most of opportunities

Viv Richards: How did he perform against the West Indian quicks?

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma or Ajinkya Rahane — who should open for India?

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here