Legendary batsman Barry Richards says CSA must use ex-players like Graeme Pollock and Mike Procter as ambassadors of the sport to acknowledge their contributions to cricket in South Africa.
In a wide-ranging interview with ESPNCricinfo about his new biography, Richards bemoaned the lack of acknowledgement from Cricket South Africa towards the achievements of players before 1990.
There were 245 players who played Test matches for South Africa (before readmission) but they are not acknowledged at all. Richards offered a possible solution to the problem.
‘It would be nice to acknowledge that you are in the Hall of Fame,’ Richards said. ‘To be acknowledged in the Hall of Fame is an acknowledgement of world cricket, not just South African cricket – that you are someone who added to the value of the game. Maybe Graeme Pollock is not financially well off. The huge TV revenue that they get now, they could easily make him an ambassador for South Africa and give him a small retainer each month, which will help him enormously. I am in a slightly different situation. Mike Procter is someone who is not well off either.
‘I was quite lucky in my early days. I did some investment. I would be struggling as well, because I would not have made much money out of cricket. But I made money out of investments, so I can survive. Cricket South Africa would go a long way towards cementing and saying, we acknowledge you guys. That thing was wrong. Let’s make sure that they get a small retainer each month to be ambassadors for South African cricket. What disappoints me is that they lobbied the MCC to have the fact that we played expunged from the records. They lobbied for two years to get that done, but they couldn’t.’
A lot has been made of Richards, who was one of South Africa’s best ever batsman, only playing four Tests in his career, all of them in 1970 against Australia. Although he was frustrated by the political situation in the country at the time, Richards has since made peace with it.
‘I have talked to a lot of people, lots of poor people. I have been to India, to Bangladesh, and here in South Africa there are many poor people who have a much harder life than I have ever had. I have been blessed with the life that I have had. To put the cricketing things in perspective, nothing is worse than losing my son [Mark, who committed suicide in 2009] – that is what I call a tragedy. Losing your cricket career – it happens, it happens to other people who might have done it through injury or other means and lost careers. But losing a son just puts everything into perspective.
‘I live in a nice part of the world in South Africa. My passion is now golf. I now play golf with a lot of friends here. I have nothing to be sad about except for my son. That obviously is massive. That dwarfs anything that has happened to me in my career. There are obviously people who say you are unlucky to have done this, but my life is a good one. There is only one tragedy in my life – it is my son. Not playing Test cricket is not a tragedy, it is a disappointment. Losing your son is tragedy.’
Picture: PA Photos