When you think about Yorkshire’s first ever coloured kit in limited overs cricket and Richie Richardson, there is just one word which sums both up. Iconic.
The county’s blue snazzy number, designed to be worn in the 1993 Axa Equity and Law League campaign, was worn by an overseas batting star who oozed class.
Richardson, the then West Indies captain and now a Sir, was signed immediately to fill Sachin Tendulkar’s overseas boots.
A batter who you could watch all day, Sir Richie also brought style to the crease through his wide brimmed sunhat.
“The coloured kit was new at that stage, it was exciting, and I was proud to adopt that blue colour,” the now ICC match referee told yorkshireccc.com.
“At the time, I was playing for the West Indies and wearing the maroon cap. I wasn’t sure whether I would wear it playing for Yorkshire, but I understood that I was playing for another team and was more than happy to adopt their colours.
“I felt comfortable in that kit, it was a nice one for sure.”
Richardson spent a season-and-a-half with Yorkshire, scoring 2,392 runs in 54 matches across all cricket, including 20 half-centuries and a pair of hundreds.
In the 1993 Axa Sunday League, he scored an impressive 537 runs in 13 matches with one hundred and four fifties. His average of 59.66 was the fourth best in a competition won by Glamorgan. Yorkshire finished ninth out of 18.
He posted scores of 81 against Hampshire, 58 not out against Somerset, 103 against Nottinghamshire, 88 not out against Middlesex and 89 versus Sussex. All came in Yorkshire victories, including the latter two at Scarborough.
Richardson continued: “Scarborough is a lovely place.
“I can recall going there to play before I joined Yorkshire. The atmosphere is always really exciting there. The people love going and enjoy their cricket.
“The pitch was always very good and easy to play strokes on. I liked the mood there. It was always happy. Maybe that’s because it’s a holiday town and resort.”
Unfortunately, during the Antiguan’s time at Headingley, Yorkshire did not win a trophy and he was forced to cut short his stay in 1994 because of illness.
“I’d heard a lot about Yorkshire before I went there,” he said.
“There were actually a few questions from some people as to whether I should go, but I went with an open mind and made a lot of friends.
“I was very well looked after and made to feel very welcome. I still maintain friendships with a lot of people, and I had a wonderful time even though it was very cold!
“On the field, I didn’t do as well as I would have liked because I was really tired. I was actually suffering from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and I didn’t really know what was wrong with me until just before the second season.
“I saw a doctor at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington, and he told me what was wrong and suggested I should take a break from the game.
“I found it difficult to concentrate with that, but I felt a bit embarrassed and was disappointed that I couldn’t achieve all that I wanted to with Yorkshire.
“But I still look back very fondly on my time at the club, as I say.”
Richardson says Darren Gough was someone he built a “wonderful relationship with”, and he aided his development as a fast bowler and a character.
Given the development of Gough, now Yorkshire’s director of cricket, it can be said that Richardson’s influence on the county’s development went way beyond just his runs.
Also, the summer after leaving Yorkshire – in 1995 – he handed current head coach Ottis Gibson both his Test Match and One-Day International debuts for the West Indies.
“I am very pleased about that,” he said. “Even though I was disappointed with my performances on the field, the contributions I made off the field and towards the overall camaraderie and development of the team was something I look back fondly on.
“Darren, in particular, was a young, happy go lucky character who loved the game but loved to have fun.
“He didn’t really realise how good he was, and I remember talking to him and saying, ‘Look, you have the ability to go far with your game’.
“Thankfully, he listened, started to believe in himself and worked a bit harder. The rest is history.”
Richardson went on: “Ottis, I played with and against him in the Caribbean. He was playing for Barbados and myself for the Leeward Islands. We played for the West Indies together. And when he was coach a few years ago, I was team manager.
“He’s a very, very good coach – very knowledgable and tactical. He has the knack of uniting players.
“I have the highest regard for him, and I am very confident he will do well at Yorkshire.
“He also knows that if he needs my advice or any kind of support, he can reach out to me at any time.
“I wish him all the best, and I also wish Yorkshire all the best.
“He has tremendous experience, and he’s rated highly across the world as a coach. I’m confident he will do everything it takes to see Yorkshire rise again.”
Following a stunning playing career which yielded more than 300 appearances for the West Indies and 12,000 plus runs, now 60-year-old Sir Richie moved into administrative roles, the latest being as an ICC match referee.
He is due to oversee the Test series between Australia and South Africa either side of Christmas.
Whilst the Yorkshire kit remains just as good as it did in 1993, the limited overs game has changed almost beyond recognition. In fact, so much so that it has impacted significantly on the purist format – Test cricket.
Look at England’s first day performance against Pakistan, for example, when they posted 506-4 from 75 overs, helped by a maiden century for Harry Brook.
“I think that change and development of the game is good for cricket,” said Richardson.
“Number one, from the point of view of being able to market the game and attract new fans and sponsors. That’s wonderful. Also, you look at the way players are playing Test cricket today, that’s testament to the shorter formats.
“I did the Test Match in your summer at Trent Bridge, England v New Zealand, and it’s the most exciting cricket match I’ve ever witnessed. I was really touched by the way the players played.
Jonny Bairstow, the way he batted was fantastic. If it wasn’t for T20 and ODI cricket, I don’t think he’d have had that approach.
“The players are constantly working on improving their style of play. Look at the shots that are being played. Joe Root reverse sweeping in a Test Match.
“The game has changed for the better in my opinion. It is not just the batters, the bowlers are adapting. They’re becoming more tactical and innovative.
“Back in the day, you could hold a line and length all day. Today, you can’t do that because of the improvisation from the batters.
“The game is growing and becoming more and more exciting.
“My hope now is to see a more globalised sport. Before I die, I hope to see every continent in the world having one or two teams playing at the highest level.
“It’s a great game, as we all know, and I want to see more people experience it.
“Just like in soccer, you have the World Cup and every continent has two or three teams playing, I would love to to see that in cricket.”
Sir Richie Richardson. A great player, a great man and a Yorkshire Icon. Just like the kit!