When Sky commentators picked an overseas XI from 50 years of county cricket, Barry Richards and Gordon Greenidge were a given, differences of opinion over some of the other places but not the two openers. Those of us who took to cricket sitting behind on the Dean Park benches plainly got rather lucky, to the extent that half a century later three List A/limited overs innings there by the South African maestro stand out to this day.
Versus Kent, September 1970, in the days of local reports and the Beeb’s tv coverage on Sundays. A completely dominant innings against an opposition with ten internationals; Alan Stickland’s piece in the Bournemouth Echo hints at an outlook for South African cricketers that was not at that point settled, still the possibility of a future in Test cricket. Two months later came his innings of 356 in Australia in a career heading towards its peak.
Richards versus Lancashire was the local headline for his innings of 129 in a Gillette Cup QF two years later. Happily there is a YouTube clip of this one and a spread in the 1972 winter edition of The Cricketer gave two pages to it, reflecting on its brilliance and his status in the game.
Versus Leicestershire, August 1975, a long way above all again, electrifying those present. Alan Stickland’s report conveys the excitement, although tactfully misses the impact on the pavilion tiles very evident from the scorebox. The legend of Darley Dale was made the following week.
Andy Murtagh has observed that for someone with his talent Barry Richards has not been lucky, as a player, or as commentator. Two trophies when Hants were the buzz team in the 1970s and the what might have been in a different political climate. Alan Butcher (Mark’s father) who once got both Hants openers out in the same spell, commented on social media that, of the two, he thought Barry got bored more easily; although for those who saw him bat when he wasn’t, doubts about the Sky XI opening pair there are none.