Sir Viv seeing stars after Newbridge visit
THERE can’t have been too many occasions when Sir Viv Richards has been star struck.
Yet when the cricketing giant from Antigua – one of Wisden’s five players of the century – was doing the rounds on the after-dinner speaking circuit last week he got to meet one of his heroes.
Sir Viv, a man who gets stopped for photos and autographs wherever he goes, met Joe Calzaghe in Newbridge and the snaps will take pride of place when he gets back to the Caribbean.
“We had a picture and a few jars together,” he laughed. “I’ve always been a keen fan of boxing.
“I’ve seen his fights and have always been impressed, so to be with a champ and see how humble he is blew me off my feet.
“I am going to cherish the photographs, take them home and make sure a lot of folks can see them.
“In Antigua there are a lot of boxing fanatics and a lot of Bernard Hopkins fans but I will be able to say ‘here is a real champ’.”
The two sporting greats met at the Newbridge Hotel, where Sir Viv spoke on Friday evening in front of 80 guests (including Joe’s dad and trainer Enzo).
It was a return to Wales for a man who spent three years at Glamorgan, inspiring them to glory in the Sunday League in 1993.
“Being in a team that hadn’t been that successful was a challenge and we all bought into what was needed to be done in order to start getting the respect,” he said.
“And we did get that respect – no team wanted to make a declaration against Glamorgan because we had guys who took the challenge on.
“There wasn’t much in the world of cricket that I needed to achieve but my time at Glamorgan was special.”
Sir Viv is sad to see his former team in Division Two of the County Championship and struggling in the one-day game.
But while Glamorgan are suffering, England are thriving. They are the number one Test team in the world but the 59-year-old, so often the tormentor of English attacks, believes they must stay at the top if they are to earn the tag of being ‘greats’.
“England have done the hard work to be where they are at the moment,” he said. “I just refute that some say they are a great team.
“They are on the road to greatness because that is not about a year or two, it’s your legacy.
“But they are on the right track and a team that is well-balanced and gives the impression they can go on the long journey and be a great team. The English attack is the best seam attack in world cricket and they have quality players in reserve, people like Steve Finn, Graham Onions, Chris Tremlett.
“It’s not the team that you send on the park every day. When one individual is missing another one comes in. England certainly fit that bill.
“They have the balance because of someone like Graeme Swann, who gets wickets and is a match-winner, but I also think in the right environment England could have a four-pronged attack just like the West Indies did.
“It’s one of the best balanced attacks I’ve seen... but they’ve got a long way to go before they can be thought of like our West Indies attacks!”