On June 1, 1985 Viv Richards plundered 322 runs in a single day against Warwickshire at Taunton. Abhishek Mukherjee looks back at the highest First-Class score by the West Indian legend.
Growing up in the 1980s had its disadvantages. There was no internet, we had virtually no idea what the foreign countries looked like, and our world was largely confined to the news. Despite all that, we do have a certain advantage over the current generation — and that is something perhaps only we will be able to fathom.
We had seen Viv Richards live.
Of course, the innings in question was not broadcast live as per my knowledge. Why, it’s not even available on YouTube or any other video site. But having known “The King” bat, one can actually visualise exactly how things had unfolded in the 1985 Championship match at Taunton.
The Warwickshire bowling line-up wasn’t really what you call poor. They were spearheaded by Gladstone Small, and had Norman Gifford for company. However, they were all reduced to insignificance by the hurricane that blew them away that day.
Warwickshire began well after Vic Marks won the toss and elected to bat. Paul Bail, the Somerset opening batsman, was retired hurt for eight, and Small removed Nigel Felton for a duck. Richards walked out to join Nigel Popplewell with the score on 28 for one (technically 28 for two).
Popplewell looked compact, and after being watchful for a few overs, Richards broke loose. To his credit, the opening batsman did not get carried away by Richards’ belligerence, and was happy to hand him the strike. By the time Dean Hoffman had Popplewell out for 55, Somerset had reached 150, and Richards was looking ominous.
Richard Ollis walked out, and by then Richards was already on rampage. He reached his hundred in 114 balls, and then — he accelerated. The bowlers were mercilessly flogged around, and the when Ollis eventually fell, the duo had added 174, of which Ollis had contributed only 55 before Anton Ferreira removed him. It did not matter, though, since not only was Richards hitting the Warwickshire bowlers all over the park, he did not seem like getting out, either.
Marks scored 65, and just like Popplewell and Ollis before him, kept his head down and allowed Richards to add 173 more before getting stumped off Norman Gifford — resulting in the third consecutive century-partnership in a single day. Richards raced to his 300 in 244 balls — the last 200 coming off just 130 balls.
In the process he became the first West Indian to score 300 runs in a day. It was also Richards’s highest First-Class score — as he went past the 291 he had scored in the 1976 Test at The Oval.
Richards also went past Harold Gimblett’s 310 against Sussex at Eastbourne in 1948 — the highest score by a Somerset batsman (the record has subsequently been broken by Justin Langer when he scored 342 against Surrey at Guildford in 2006). He broke Hampshire’s Dick Moore’s record of 316 at Bournemouth in 1937, thereby setting a new record against Warwickshire — a record that still stands.
Richards marched on, and was eventually bowled by Ferreira, but not before he had butchered the Warwickshire attack for a 258-ball 322 with 42 fours and eight sixes (out of a team score of 505 during his stay). The innings had lasted less than five hours, which meant that there was still enough time. Marks declared at 566 for five after batting for exactly 100 overs.
Three Warwickshire bowlers — Paul Smith (11-0-73-0), Hoffman (14-0-85-1), and Gifford (18-1-135-1) —conceded over six runs an over. There were only seven maidens in the innings, six of which were bowled by the opening bowlers – mostly before Richards’ arrival at the crease.
There was a reason they called him The King.
Warwickshire responded with character, with Dennis Amiss and Paul Smith adding 161 for the fourth wicket. Ferreira scored an unbeaten 101, and Murray Turner picked up four for 74. Warwickshire ended up conceding a lead of 124.
Richards did not bat in the second innings, and Marks declared at 226 for five after having a blast himself, top-scoring with 66 not out. Joel Garner picked up Andy Lloyd as Warwickshire chased 351, but Robin Dyer and Alvin Kallicharran added 140, and the match ended in a draw.
Somerset 566 for 5 decl. (Viv Richards 322, Vic Marks 65, Nigel Popplewell 55, Richard Ollis 55) and 226 for 5 decl. (Vic Marks 66 not out, Trevor Gard 47, Nigel Felton 45) drew with Warwickshire 442 for 9 decl. (Anton Ferreira 101 not out, Paul Smith 93, Dennis Amiss 81, Andy Lloyd 61; Murray Turner 4 for 74) and 181 for 2 (Alvin Kallicharran 89, Robin Dyer 63 not out).
(Abhishek Mukherjee is a cricket historian and Senior Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He generally looks upon life as a journey involving two components – cricket and literature – though not as disjoint elements. A passionate follower of the history of the sport with an insatiable appetite for trivia and anecdotes, he has also a steady love affair with the incredible assortment of numbers that cricket has to offer. He also thinks he can bowl decent leg-breaks in street cricket, and blogs at http://ovshake.blogspot.in. He can be followed on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/
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