Richards was toughest to bowl at, feels Imran

KOLKATA: Pakistan's World Cup winning skipper Imran Khan on Saturday rated West Indian great Sir Vivian Richards as the toughest to bowl at during his time.

The legendary Pakistani former allrounder said Richards had the gifted quality of amazing reflexes by which he could decimate any attack with elan.

"Of all the players in my time, Viv Richards stood out. He was a complete genius. Viv was the only batsman who would attack me. No other batsman could attack me when I was at my peak," the 58-year-old said.

"He had amazing reflexes on top of it. His reflexes were greater than anyone else. He could destroy any fast bowlers. It was a gifted ability. He could move into position, so quickly... Just incredible."

Imran also had high praise for another West Indian great Gary Sobers and Indian maestro Sachin Tendulkar, even as he regretted of not bowling to the duo at the peak.

"My first match in the county was his (Sobers) last. I did get him out, but it was not an achievement. When I started everybody had the same regards about him like I said about Viv. I am not in a position to comment on the batsmen whom I didn't bowl to."

Describing Tendulkar as a phenomenon, Imran said: "He is a phenomenon like (Sir Don) Bradman was... But I can't compare as both are from different eras.

"It's the sheer quantity of runs Tendulkar has scored that makes him so special. He has two special gifts. Technique and the timing. So if you have both, it enables you to be very consistent.

"Technique helps you to occupy the crease while by sheer timing he scores fluently without taking much risk. A good timer can place the ball. That's why he is so consistent. He made his debut when I was nearing end," Khan said.

The inspirational Pakistani picked West Indian Michael Holding when asked to name about the top fast bowlers ever.

"Michael Holding was fastest but he did not last very long and was at his peak for about five years.

"I never saw any fast bowlers at his level. Like Viv Richards, he was a genius."

"The West Indies had four match winners in the team who lost to India in the 1983 final. With Andy Roberts, Holding, Malcom Marshall and Joel Garner, they had the potential to rip apart any batting line-up."

"Garner was an awkward bowler as he had some spells that were better than anyone. Malcom (Marshall) was an artist, a thinking bowler..."

"West Indies also had Curtley Ambrose who was superb while Australian Glenn McGrath had the mental strength and persistence, though I've not played against them."

Imran feels that Wasim Akram was one of the complete natural bowlers and the present generation had Mohammad Aamer but the latter has been banned after being found guilty of spot-fixing.

While felicitating the winners of the Nokia Para Cricket III Series, Khan also had a few words of advice for the youngsters.

"You must aim very high which is the most important thing. You should have the ability to chase your dreams and never ever give up.