Durban, Jan 14: The West Indies' historic successful run chase to beat South Africa in the second Twenty20 International was a perfect birthday gift to him, team manager Richie Richardson has said.
Richardson, one of the finest batsmen to have played for the West Indies, watched from the dugout as his team pulled off the highest ever run chase in T20 International history, to win by four wickets with four balls to spare at the Wanderers in Johannesburg Sunday, reports CMC.
Richardson celebrated his 53rd birthday Monday and said he couldn't have asked for more from his team. Opener Chris Gayle smashed 90 from 41 balls and Marlon Samuels 60 from 39 deliveries to power the West Indies to their target of 232.
"I would first of all like to thank the guys for the birthday gift. It was indeed something very special," said the former Test captain Tuesday.
"We all know the quality of the team, the talent that we have and once the guys apply themselves and play to their potential we can beat anybody in the world."
Richardson was a dominant batsman in his heyday, compiling 5,949 runs from 86 Tests at an average of 44, with 16 hundreds. He also amassed over 6,248 runs from 224 One-Day Internationals (ODI) at an average of 33.
He played alongside the likes of legendary batsman Vivian Richards, Desmond Haynes and Gordon Greenidge in a career spanning 13 years, but said he was left astonished by the savagery of Gayle and Samuels.
"It's unbelievable really. I've seen some hitting in my time but Chris Gayle he stands out. His bat is so huge, he's so powerful, he's so destructive, and when he's going it doesn't matter who is bowling and what sort of delivery they bowl to him, he can put it away," he pointed out.
"In these two matches, he has shown that he's probably the best T20 batsman in the world today. Marlon was there with him scoring just as freely but with a different style, playing elegant shots, proper cricket shots and scoring just as freely."
Richardson said, "It was just great to see both batsmen batting together. Chris was dominant but Marlon played some really, really sweet shots, he timed the ball very, very well and it was great to see both batsmen batting together."
The victory gave the Caribbean side a winning 2-0 lead in the three-match series and the former batsman said the Windies were now highly motivated by the thought of making a clean sweep, especially against a strong side like South Africa.
"It is not often that a team that is ranked below the top team whitewashes them so that's the focus of the team at the moment. We're not going to relax, we've won the series yes, and we'll celebrate it but we're saving the celebration for after the next match," he said.
"I've always said it's never over till it's over. I don't believe in celebrating too early. Our goal now is to win the series 3-0 and accumulate some (ratings) points and move up in the rankings. That's the mood in the camp and we're just looking forward to the next match.
"We're going to dig deep and hopefully we can have another successful match."