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March 12, 2019

Pakistan can win World Cup if batsmen do well: Richards


March 12, 2019

KARACHI: Sir Viv Richards, one of the greatest cricketers of the last century, says if the batsmen are able to perform Pakistan can win the ICC One-day World Cup which will be staged in England next summer.

“They have the talent. I find that the bowling unit of Pakistan is very good. If the batsmen can perform to the best of their abilities then I believe Pakistan has the chance,” Richards told ‘The News’ in an exclusive interview here on Monday.

Richards is in Karachi as the mentor of Pakistan Super League (PSL) franchise Quetta Gladiators.

About Pakistan’s inconsistency in ODI cricket since winning the Champions Trophy in England, the former West Indies skipper said: “Before they won the Champions Trophy they were inconsistent as well. It goes to show you that if these guys play together as a unit they can deliver,” Richards said.

He said that four to five teams had the chance of winning the World Cup. “When you take some examples from the Champions Trophy in England, India I think have been successful over the year,” he said. “Pakistan came and showed promise and beat some of the best teams in the world. So there are a lot of teams. West Indies started to show some good promise. England always have a good team but they never came to the finish line due to certain reasons,” said Richards, who scored 8540 runs in 121 Tests.

“Australia are a unit and must be respected. New Zealand could be a dark horse. There are lot of teams, about four or five who have the capability to win,” said Richards, who led the West Indies in 50 Test, winning 27 and losing just eight.

About Afghanistan, Richards said: “They have got some very good bowlers. They have Nabi and leggie Rashid Khan. They have got good enough cricketers,” the 67-year-old said.Richards also backed the decision of Pakistan’s selectors to rest their top six players, including skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, for the country’s five-match ODI series against Australia in the UAE later this month.

“When you look at the commitment of Pakistani players over the years they have not been able to play at home. And it is important that sometimes boys can be burnt out. If you look at the bigger picture it would certainly be World Cup and you think that your best players need some rest, then why not? And if you can have them feel refreshed and certainly that is not a bad idea in my opinion to rest them,” Richards said.

“This also opens the doors to a lot more players with the same sort of abilities to even push some of the players who are being rested. It is not the best team which you put on the field every time. You also need a force in your back-up unit,” he said.

He also sees chance for the West Indies, the winners of the first two World Cups. “West Indies just started to show some form. We beat England in the longer format. One should never count West Indies out,” Richards said.

When asked what part spinners could play in the World Cup in England, he said: “At one point I never even felt that spinners would play a part in one-day cricket. Some spinners can be quite useful like Rashid Khan of Afghanistan. All other spinners from around the world would have an opportunity. In my opinion they are the mystery guys in the game. A good leg-spinner is always a substance for a team,” Richards said.

He said that PSL had been contributing to Pakistan cricket’s growth. “PSL is a very good tournament and highly competitive. It attracts some of the best players from around the world.

The PSL is a good foundation for Pakistani players to move forward and to become internationally known. That is a great platform for the Pakistani players,” Richards said.

He also praised Pakistan’s emerging fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain. “At his age it is marvellous to have such talent. I think maybe because of his performance in the PSL Pakistan picked him,” Richards said.

When asked if T20 was affecting Test cricket, Richards said: “I believe the revenues from T20 cricket can help subsidise Test cricket which I think is good. In my opinion the cricket which tells you whether you are a great player . . . you become a great player because of the substance of Test cricket. The T20 cricket, in my opinion, may be exciting; it does not give any one an opportunity to express himself in the best possible way. But they do compensate for one another,” he said.

Richards said it would be good to see international cricket back in Pakistan. “Cricket coming back to Pakistan is a slow process. And it’s of vital importance when you look at the support from the public here in Pakistan. We must work hard to ensure that everything is okay for international cricket.

“The people love the game which you have seen here and it sends the message that international cricket needs to be back here. And so long as we get the support and everything along the security line is okay, nothing is wrong with international cricket back in Pakistan. That would be good to see,” said Richards, who played 187 ODIs in his illustrious career.