T20 Franchises Would Have Paid More Money Than Pat Cummins And Ben Stokes Combined to Get Viv Richards: Ian Smith
Viv Richards (© IANS)

Former New Zealand international Ian Smith reckons that had T20 cricket been introduced earlier, Viv Richards would have stamped his authority on the shortest format as well like he did in the Tests and ODIs.

Richards is widely regarded as one of the greatest and destructive batsman to have played the game.

“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.

Richards, winner of he 1975 and 1979 world cups, was known for his fearless batting and intimidating demeanour. He scored 8540 runs in 121 Tests while in 187 ODIs, he scored 6721 runs.

Smith, a contemporary of Richards, felt that had Richards played in today’s era, he would have been the most sought after cricketer and command much more money that the likes of Pat Cummins and Ben Stokes put together.

“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,” the 63-year-old said.

“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,” he added.

The former stumper also claimed he hasn’t seen a more imposing batsman during his playing and commentary career than Richards.

“I don’t think I have ever in that time I played or commentated cricket seen a more imposing batsman come to the crease,” Smith said. “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.”

“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,” the Kiwi added.

Smith, who played 63 Tests and 98 ODIs between 1980 and 1992, recalled his on-field encounters with the legendary batsman saying he tried not to get intimidated and would be fully focused on the job as a mistake could prove to be disastrous.

“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,” Smith recalled.

“I have to concentrate on my job. Because if I let him go we’ll have to pay dearly and ten folds,” he added.