New Speech for Lord Taverners plus images
Honourable Asot Michael
Sir. Vivian Richards at Lord’s Taverners
September 23rd, 2014
Sir Vivian Richards,
Sir Andy Roberts,
Other distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
I stand here this evening, overjoyed that Sir Isaac Vivian Richards is being honoured by the Lords’ Taverners.
Antigua and Barbuda is a small country.
Our population is less than a hundred thousand people.
And, yet we have produced some of the world’s most outstanding cricketers.
Each of them has been special, but all of them will readily acknowledge – as I do this evening – that Viv Richards is pre-eminent among them.
It is a pre-eminence that he enjoys, as well, among cricketers from every cricketing nation in the world.
The respect and affection that he enjoys in the cricket fraternity – even from those great bowlers whose deliveries he dispatched to the boundary and beyond – is a remarkable testament to the high quality of his batsmanship and the value he brought to the game.
The Australians as you know well are famous for their sledging.
Peter Roebuck, for instance, is said to have told Merv Hughes: “A cricket tour in Australia would be the most delightful period in one’s life, if one was deaf”.
Then there is Tony Greig on Glenn McGrath.
Three words “What a bastard”.
West Indians learned to give as good as they got.
So Malcolm Marshall to David Boon: “You convicts are all the same”.
And then there was Allan Border to Robin Smith: “Mate, if you turn the bat over, you’ll see the instructions on the back”!
Sir Viv also joined that fray, but he did it more spectacularly with his bat, showing that the game was not about verbal intimidation, it was about batting supremacy and craftsmanship.
He had no need to turn the bat over.
The balls hitting the boundary was enough.
Sledging was no match for batting brilliance.
Who will forget Si Viv’s swagger as he approached the wicket? Who will not cherish those moments when with a flick of his wrist, even the most feared bowlers sat back as their deliveries soared for six? Who will not recall with admiration the boost that he brought to cricket and the joy that we all felt when he was at the crease?
Vivian Richards gave to cricket worldwide, a standing and a following matched by only a few in the world.
And, if from all that I have said, you get the impression that I, and the people of Antigua and Barbuda whom I represent, place Sir Vivian in a special category of citizen, you would be perfectly right.
We have honoured him with a Knighthood and we have all – unanimously and collectively – made him one of our National Heroes.
But, we know that no honour we give him, no recognition that we accord him, can repay him for the sheer joy and the absolute pride that he has brought to our small nation.
Sir Vivian is a proud Antiguan who played cricket for the honour of the West Indies and for his country.
It must have been a great burden to know that every time he ventured onto the field of play, he carried the expectations and hopes of all the West Indian people.
But if it was a burden, he never showed it.
Indeed, he undertook his task as a heroic soldier for his nation, never faltering in his duty.
Beyond, his responsibility to the West Indian team and to the West Indian people, was his sense of obligation to the beautiful game of cricket itself.
He played cricket for the joy of the spectators; for the enthusiasm of school boys; for the pleasure of its most ardent fans.
In doing so, he kept the flame of cricket burning brightly, and maintained its place as a sport of choice and of enjoyment for millions of people around the world.
It is fitting that Sir Vivian is being honored by Lord’s Taverners because he adored Lord’s, not only because it is a superb ground on which to play cricket, but because it is redolent with the history of cricket and the spirits of its greatest players reside within it.
Playing cricket at Lords was not just a game for Viv Richards; it was tribute to the magnificence of the sport itself, and to the greatness of superb cricketers of every nationality who performed their craft with brilliance in this hallowed place.
He played in eight Lord’s finals.
As he said “When I was batting at Lord’s I wanted to make sure that no one else was going to come in. It was my stage.”
It is therefore with pride and pleasure that on behalf of the people of Antigua and Barbuda I’m here with you this evening to witness the great honor that is being bestowed on Sir Viv….
He may have given up his bat in Cricket, but he continues to bat for Antigua and for the West Indies.
Antigua and Barbuda is a premier tourist destination today in part because Vivian Richards never let people forget that it is the county of his birth, and his home.
He continues even now to promote his home, and to invite people from all over the world to come and enjoy it.
We thank the Lord Taverners for their vision in honouring not only Antigua and Barbuda’s Sir Viv Richards and Sir Anderson Roberts, but also all the other West Indian cricketing legends present here this evening.
The funds that will be raised for Sir Viv’s Charity, “The St John’s Cathedral Restoration Fund” will go a long way to restoring one of most iconic landmarks in our nation.
For that most generous gesture we are most grateful.
And we are proud that so great a cricketing institution as the Lords’ Taverners has paid such a wonderful tribute to our West Indian cricketers who have done so much to give sparkle to the game – particularly, this evening, the great cricket icon, Sir Vivian Richards.