Great Innings in Cricket History: Viv Richards' 189* vs. England, 1984

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Great Innings in Cricket History: Viv Richards' 189* vs. England, 1984
Adrian Murrell/Getty Images
Come over to my side: Richards pulls Pringle to the boundary during his epic innings against England in 1984

In May 1984, West Indian batting legend Viv Richards deposited the England bowling attack to all corners of Old Trafford in what is still considered by many, even to this day, to be the greatest one-day international (ODI) innings ever played.

The opening contest of that three-match ODI series in Manchester signalled the start of what was to be a very long and painful summer for David Gower’s men, who would ultimately end up being "blackwashed" by West Indies in the five Test matches that followed.

And at the forefront of this historic tour for the Calypso Kings was none other than IVA Richards, who by this point was now the undisputed best batsman in the world in the shorter form of the game.

The gum-chewing Antiguan had seemingly always been a man ahead of his time, with the innings that Richards played that day at Old Trafford being something more akin to a modern-day Twenty20 international than anything seen in the limited-overs arena of the mid-1980s.

 

First ODI Scorecard

In fact, there had been just four scores in excess of 150 in the history of the game at that point, and one of those knocks had been from Richards himself when he made an unbeaten 153 against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground in December 1979.

However few, if any, in the crowd that day in Manchester would have predicted that history was about to be made right before their very eyes as England, putting behind them the loss of the toss, began proceedings by making instant inroads into the tourists’ strong-looking batting line-up.

So much so that by the time West Indies had reached 100 in the 26th over, seven top-order batsmen were already back in the shed as Ian Botham, Bob Willis and off-spinner Geoff Miller all got amongst the wickets.

Meanwhile, at the other end, amid all the carnage stood Richards, leaning on his bat, collar raised, furiously chewing as ever on his gum but all the while concentrated and fully focused on the job in hand, 65 not out and batting dangerously as No. 8 Eldine Baptiste walked out to the middle.

These two proceeded to add 59 for the eighth wicket as Baptiste joined Richards in becoming the only West Indians to reach double figures, but when both he and Joel Garner were then dismissed in quick succession, it now appeared just a matter of time before the innings would draw to a close, with the score on 166 for 9 and last man Michael Holding strolling out to bat.

By this point Richards had moved on to 96 before then bringing up his seventh ODI hundred by on-driving best mate Botham down the ground for his 12th four, reaching the landmark off just 112 deliveries.

Now, in those days, a limited-overs century made from that number of balls was considered to be lightning fast, yet the registering of his ton only seemed to loosen Richards’ shackles further, with what then followed at Old Trafford being one of the most brutal and savage assaults on a bowling attack that the game has ever witnessed.

No England bowler was spared, not Botham or Willis, as Richards toyed with the opposition, firstly despatching his Somerset team-mate nonchalantly over the square-leg boundary with a mere flick of the wrists.

Next it was Neil Foster’s turn; however, despite bowling to a pre-planned leg-side field, Richards simply moved towards square leg and this time heaved the fast bowler high past deep long-off before taking advantage of Derek Pringle slightly over-pitching by launching the medium pacer over long-on and into the stands.

Finally it was Willis who attempted to shackle the great West Indian, only for England’s fastest bowler to find himself casually deposited over extra cover before Richards then brought up the 100-run last-wicket partnership from the penultimate delivery, yet another boundary.

Fittingly, the final ball of the innings from Botham also sailed straight back over the paceman’s head as West Indies reached 272 for nine, with the 10th wicket producing a remarkable stand of 106, 93 of which came from the bat of Richards.

The great man then walked back to the pavilion to the sound of applause ringing from all sides of the ground, with the spectators present that day by now aware they had just witnessed a momentous exhibition of batting.

And it was, with Richards having made 189 not out from just 170 balls, a knock that included 21 fours and five sixes. The batsman’s last 58 deliveries produced an incredible 86 runs, with nine boundary fours and five maximums in what is still thought of as being the greatest limited-overs innings ever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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