New Delhi, April 26 -- The old swagger is not conspicuous, the chewing gum and maroon cap that added to his menacing image on the pitch are also missing. As he settles down to a media conference, Viv Richards presents a mellowed image.
As he admits later, he is less confident against journalists than he was on the field. "The cricket field was my home."
In his heyday, he spread fear among his rivals and inspired awe among fans. Picture this: His fastest Test ton, off 56 balls, which came in the mid-80s, remains a record to this day.
There have been players who have surpassed his records, but none has matched the impact he had.
That cold stare, the horizontal-bat shots against the fastest of bowlers without the protection of a helmet, all that made him one of the finest batsmen ever in the game.
While experts are still looking for someone who would fit into the mould of the Antiguan, Richards himself dropped a hint on who could be his successor.
Virat Kohli. Yes, that youngster from Delhi who was known to mouth abuses at the hint of confrontation but is fast maturing as a batsman and now represents India's batting future.
Years back, Don Bradman spoke of how Sachin Tendulkar's batting style reminding him of his own approach. Look where Tendulkar has reached?
Richards said: "I love Virat's aggression and passion. He reminds me of myself." Richards had his ways of unnerving the opposition. On Thursday, he spoke for long on what true aggression means.
"Standing at the crease and looking into the other guy's eye, that to me is aggression. not sledging. The bowler will try and bang (at) you but if you are there till the end of the day, that'll hurt him more. You should stand the ground." Walk, don't talk.
Virat, according to Richards, is someone who can stand his ground even under tremendous pressure. That ability has shone through in the past two years - in the World Cup, in Australia, in the Asia Cup and even in the home Tests against England and Australia.
Among qualities Richards is looking to impart to struggling players like Virender Sehwag is the 'art of bluffing', in his role as the Daredevils ambassador.
"I would always have a Sehwag in my side knowing how destructive he can be. I had a little chat with him. (Knowing his style) the opposition would plug the boundaries, so he can collect singles or doubles.
"That's what I mean by bluffing (basically, change your style). Gayle has played bluff on a few occasions. He plays cautiously and then he explodes. He's been so successful."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.