DURBAN–Team manager Sir Richie Richardson celebrated his 53rd birthday on Monday and says West Indies' historic successful run chase to beat South Africa in Sunday's second Twenty20 International was the perfect gift.
One of the finest batsmen to have played the Test and one-day game, Sir Richie watched from the dugout as West Indies 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.
Opener Chris Gayle smashed 90 from 41 balls and Marlon Samuels, 60 from 39 deliveries, to power 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.
"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."
Sir Richie 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 ODIs at an average of 33.
He played alongside the likes of legendary batsman Sir 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," Sir Richie 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.
"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, with one match left to play at Kingsmead on Wednesday.
However, Sir Richie 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."