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‘I will not be surprised if a dark horse becomes the champion’
Willow Talk : Viv Richards

Yuvraj Singh

You played a significant role in helping your side win the first two World Cup finals...

Viv Richards: Those were memorable times. We had a great side and did not take too long to adapt to one-day cricket. We had balance and confidence. I am happy that I was able to contribute to both wins.

Those run outs in the 1975 final and the hundred in 1979...

Viv Richards: I remember all those run-outs in the 1975 final like it was only yesterday. I was young and agile then. I also have fond memories of the hundred against England in 1979. A century in the World Cup final, of all matches, is the icing on the cake. We were miles ahead of all the other teams at that point.

Do you endorse the view that the Australians are the favourites to complete a World Cup ‘hat-trick’ in 2007?

Viv Richards: It should be an interesting World Cup. While it is true that Australia are one of the contenders for the title, I do feel that they aren’t so sure of themselves this time. I will not be surprised if a dark horse becomes the champion. Read moreread more

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Like in 1983?

Viv Richards: Yes. The defeat in the 1983 final still hurts. India played exceptional cricket and deserved to win. If I remember correctly, it was Kim Hughes, the Australian captain, who labelled them as the ‘dark horses.’ It was one of those days when nothing went our way.

What are the West Indies’ chances in this World Cup?

Viv Richards: We have a very, very good chance. Brian Lara and his team will be supported by their home crowd. That will be a huge bonus for our boys. It will be nice if the West Indies start winning matches from the word ‘go’. There will be a festive spirit all through, and it will only gain momentum if the people of the Caribbean see that their cricket team is in the same mood.

New Zealand have done very well of late, particularly against the Aussies…

Viv Richards: I was in New Zealand to promote beach cricket during the Chappell - Hadlee one-day series. The Kiwis have definitely improved by leaps and bounds. I saw tremendous ‘fighting spirit’ in the players. They will be a force to reckon with if they sustain that during the World Cup.

And the Asians?

Viv Richards: India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan will try to make an impact. India is slightly ahead as far as their batting department is concerned. Pakistan and Sri Lanka are two sides that comprise young, upcoming all-rounders. That might work in their favour.

A new cricket stadium in Antigua has been named after you. Your reactions?

Viv Richards: I am deeply honoured. I have led a humble life, and maybe this is a reward for that. Many people have asked me whether this is the happiest moment of my life, but I don’t think so. Winning the 1975 and 1979 World Cups will remain my most memorable moment, or ‘moments’.

The new stadium is all set to replace the Recreation Ground as the premier cricket venue in Antigua. Will you miss the Recreation Ground?

Viv Richards: Of course, I will miss it. I grew up on and around it. My father used to work in the prison adjacent to the ground. It was there that I played most of my early cricket. Later on, I established a world record for the fastest Test hundred on the same turf. I will miss the atmosphere. But one has to accept change. Life goes on.

(An exclusive feature for Sify from PMG)

Other interviews:

Yuvraj Singh
Greg Chappell
S Sreesanth
Sourav Ganguly

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