After a very funny warm-up of the crowd by co-speaker, former Australian paceman Rodney Hogg, Richards shared his thoughts on a cricket career which saw him dubbed the Master Blaster for his aggressive and entertaining batting.
Some of it was funny, and some of it was serious.
He told how, during the apartheid years, he was offered a blank cheque to play in South Africa, which was organising rebel tours in an attempt to break an international sporting ban.
If he accepted the offer, ‘I would have to sell my soul. I’m a proud man.’
If he did accept, he was told: “You may have to become an honourary white.”
“I said, f… you,” Richards said.
“If I had gone, because of my tenaciousness, I could have been killed. Or I could have been put in that situation myself (where he would have hit back violently at the mistreatment of black South Africans).”
Richards also was offered the chance, like so many of the world’s best players, to take part in the World Series Cricket revolution which saw the introduction of one-day cricket, coloured clothing … and a good wage.
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The $25,000 sign-on fee was most welcomed, but not the original choice for the West Indies’ coloured clothing.
“It was shocking pink,” Richards said.
There was also the embarrassment of walking on to the field and copping a verbal shellacking from the Aussie crowd,with their taunts of ‘What’s up today sheilas’.
On the commentary of former England opening batsman Geoff Boycott:
Richards told one colleague that Boycott’s real occupation was an eye specialist.
“How do you know that?” the colleague asked.
“He’s always saying I-this and I-that,” Richards explained.
He also mentioned former West Indian quick bowler Malcolm Marshall: “He barked in the opposition’s back yard, and not just in his own yard.” – In reference to Marshall’s ability to take wickets in any country and on any type of wicket.
His favourite Australian fast bowler was Jeff Thomson – the most aggressive of our fast bowlers ‘but the nicest individual you could find’.
Best spinner: He didn’t play against Shane Warne, so it was another leg-spinner, the Pakistani, Abdul Qadir – a ‘very tenacious’ bowler who expected to get a wicket with every ball.
But the highest praise was for West Indian quick, the fearsome Andy Roberts. “He was the hitman of fast bowling. He ended careers.”
Richards told how during one fierce Roberts spell in England, a batsman who was next in to bat put his dentures in a glass of water. “These are pretty new and they’re not going out there,” the batsman explained.
Which batsman, from any era, would he liked to have batted with: “Rodney Hogg, if you wanted to look good.”
His most memorable moment in cricket: It was during a World Series match at Gloucester Park in Perth.
“I scored a beautiful hundred – a wonderful knock,” Richards said.
His batting partner, Roger Harper, interrupted Viv’s celebration. “Look behind you,” Harper said.
A strange thing to say, thought Viv, but he looked anyhow.
“There was this beautiful creature dressed only in her birthday suit,” Richards said.
“I thought, ‘Man, this is not cricket!’.”
The woman fronted up to Richards, held an exposed breast and said ‘Mr Richards, would you mind signing this please?’.
“So for the first time in my life, I dotted all my I’s,” Richards quipped.
PICTURES (from top): Members of the Ned Flanders Cricket Club made the trip down from Brisbane to meet one of their idols.
With Ballina ladies (from left) Lisa Diett, Helen Koellner and Tiffany Lane.
Signing an item of memorabilia purchased by John Casey, of Lennox Head.
Only too happy for a meet and greet session before speaking.