From a Clerk to South African Legend

Barry Richards was South Africa’s most successful and technically sound batsman. Though Barry represented South Africa in just four Test matches, his impact was such that the cricket fraternity still counts him as one of the legends of the game. Barry’s cricket career has been nothing less than inspiration as the right-hander produced many whirlwind performances despite all the odds. As the batsman turns 76 on July 21, let’s take a look at some lesser-known facts about him:

Worked as a clerk in an insurance company

This is not known to many, but before starting his career as a professional cricketer, Barry worked in a South Africa Mutual Insurance Company as a clerk. The right-hander had a knack for becoming a cricketer right from his childhood, however, some family problems forced the batsman to take up the job as a clerk. Barry’s stint in the insurance company was cut short when Gloucestershire offered him to play for their Second XI.

West Indies dressing room attendant

While playing for Gloucestershire in 1966, Barry received a golden opportunity to peak into the dressing room of the West Indies team. The 76-year-old was offered the job of a dressing room attendant during a Test match at The Oval. While essaying his job, Barry got a chance to meet some legendary Caribbean players including the likes of Rohan Kanhai, Conrad Hunte, Seymour Nurse, Wes Hall, Lance Gibbs, and Garry Sobers.

Stint with Hampshire

One of the golden moments of the batter’s career was his phenomenal stint with Hampshire in 1968. Before joining Hampshire, Barry had fetched the limelight by revealing that he wishes to score 2000 runs for the county. The batsman, who was then just 22, lived up to his promise as he ended the season with a whopping 2395 runs under his belt, including five centuries at an average of 47.90.

Losing out on a National call-up

Barry made his debut for South Africa in 1970. The batsman was originally scheduled to debut during the Australia tour of South Africa in 1966-67. However, Barry’s misconduct during an event prolonged his wait for the maiden Test cap. Before the main Test series against Australia, South Africa XI was involved in a tour against the visiting side. After one of the games, both the teams were invited to a local hotel for a cabaret.

Barry and a few other players, who also reached the hotel, were stopped by the gatekeeper despite having the invitation. Being angry with the same, the batter kicked a big vase that fell to the ground. The matter became worse as the hotel authorities warned to call the police.

However, a South Africa selector who was watching the whole episode helped Barry get out of the situation. However, it impacted the batsman’s chances as he was made to bat at a lower position in the next game while he didn’t find a place in the Playing XI in the main Test match.

Short International career

Barry made his much-awaited debut for South Africa against Australia in 1970 as the two teams locked horns with each other in the four-match Test series. During the Test series, Barry showed his class and temperament as he smashed 508 runs at an average of 72.57. His exploits helped the South Africa team in comprehensively beating Australia by 4-0. However, that was the first and the only Test series that Barry could play at the international stage as South Africa was banned by ICC.

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