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Church and Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club turned down Sir Viv Richards

The club missed out on a chance to sign the legend in 1973.

England v. West Indies at The Oval. Viv Richards batting. August 1976.

A cricket club in Hyndburn turned down the chance to chance to sign legend Sir Viv Richards, it has been revealed.

Church and Oswaldtwistle Cricket Club received a letter from representatives in Antigua, West Indies, in 1973 offering the services of the talented young 20-year-old.

The story came to light after a former player and life member at the club brought a letter into the Observer office.

The letter says Richards would be available on a three-year contract and they would even pay for his passage to England to secure the deal. However the Blackburn Road club decided against recruiting the fledgling star, who went on to become one of the greatest batsmen of all time.

Jack Houldsworth, who contacted us with the letter, said they had no idea at the time they were missing out on a future superstar.

He said: “It’s easy to have hindsight but we wouldn’t have know. He was just another West Indies player at the time and that’s just the way it turned out.

“You can’t know these things or how good he was going to be in advance.”

The letter, sent by B.M Jacobs in St John’s Antigua, to the club read: “Vivian Richards is the type of batsman the crowd would walk miles to see.

“He is sound and polish and full of strokes and hits the ball very hard.

“He is a good off-spinner and a very good fields man.

“All in all he has youth, experience and talent in his favour which can be of great use to you for many years. Richards is all set to come now.”

Richards did play in Hyndburn at the age of 34, when he joined Rishton Cricket Club in 1987.

Former England cricket captain David Lloyd, from Accrington, rates him in his top three players of all time. He said: “It’s all about somebody’s judgement and they have got to make.

“When you consider all the great players who have played in the Lancashire league I would have loved to have had him here.

“We then wouldn’t have played against him at Somerset. He was an absolute destroyer, had great charisma, was fearless, loved being a showman and put a show on every time.”

 

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