7 Barry Richards facts on his 75th birthday
Today marks the 75th birthday of one of South Africa’s greatest ever batsmen; a man of such incredible talent that he is often compared to Sir Donald Bradman.
But like so many others of his generation, the world never got to truly experience the magic of Barry Richards as the evils of Apartheid forced South Africa into the international wilderness in 1970, not to return for more than two decades.
Instead, the man from Durban was forced into an almost exclusively first-class career, but what a career it was!
Here, then, are seven facts and stats to show just how good Barry Richards was.
His prowess with bat in hand was spotted early on, having scored 63 for the South African Colts against a strong MCC side as a 19-year-old. Two years later, he belted 107 in 160 minutes against a powerful touring Australian side.
Richards joined English County side Hampshire as a 22-year-old in 1968. He raised eyebrows upon signing when he claimed he wanted to score 2 000 runs in his debut season, but lived up to the hype by finishing top of the charts with 2 395 runs at an average of 48. He finished his Hampshire spell in 1978 with 15 607 first-class runs (at an average of 50.51), most of it scored alongside legendary West Indian star Gordon Greenidge.
Richards played one season of Sheffield Shield cricket for South Australia, scoring 1 538 runs in 10 matches at an average of 109.86. He famously scored 325 in a single day’s play against a Western Australia attack which featured the likes of Dennis Lillee and Graham McKenzie.
Richards played only for Tests for South Africa before isolation, against Bill Lawry’s touring Australia side in 1970. He scored 508 runs (72.57 average) in the series as the hosts romped to a 4-0 win.
He played five SuperTests for the World XI in World Series Cricket, scoring 554 (79 average) in just five matches, with a highest score of 207.
At the age of 39, Richards came out of retirement to face the touring rebel West Indian side. As Trevor Bisseker noted: “Playing at Newlands, he held the stadium enthralled for an hour, as he simply carved up everything that was delivered at him. He played with all the time in the world and the decisive quality of a master craftsman at work. Alas the spell was broken. His concentration seems to snap and the inevitable end came. That innings put Richards into his right perspective. He was the closest thing to an insurance policy against defeat that anybody could take out. Certainly, if somebody had to bat for one's life, one would choose Richards ahead of the other world greats of the 1970s, and that includes his illustrious West Indian namesake and Graeme Pollock.”
Richards was named Wisden Cricketer of the Year in 1969, and was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame 40 years later after scoring 28 358 first-class runs in 339 matches, at an average of 54.74.