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Richards jnr diving in the deep end

By Paul Newman in Antigua

8 January 1998

A NEW Richards will be unveiled to the world on Sunday if the Antiguan heavens ever relent and allow England to set foot on the new Caribbean Cricket Centre.

Mali Richards, the 13-year-old son of the great Viv, has been lined up to play in the showpiece opening match at the new facility against the tourists but, with heavy rain continuing to fall on the island yesterday, the event is already in doubt.

Mali, a left-handed batsman, is making quite an impression in age-group cricket with, it is said, much of his famous father's panache and many of his mannerisms. The disappointment for England, however, is that with Antigua under water, they are unlikely to get a first-hand glimpse of his emerging skills.

So frustrated have they become at the weather that David Lloyd, the England coach, packed his players off fishing and golfing yesterday to give them a break from trying to practise in the rain. But even a day off in the Caribbean degenerated into the dampest of squibs.

One player who has retained a spring in his step is Angus Fraser, still thrilled at being picked for his third West Indies tour and now a probable third seamer in the first Test line-up following the withdrawal of the injured Darren Gough.

Fraser has already been utilised in his additional tour role of 'father figure' to the other fast bowlers, much to Lloyd's satisfaction. ``He has been absolutely brilliant in the way he's given a lead and set an example to the likes of Headley, Cowan and Silverwood,'' said Lloyd, who revealed that England have even considered - but rejected - the idea of leaving here early for Jamaica in the hope of locating the sun.

``Fraser has emphasised to the other bowlers that they have to work harder than anybody else because it's bloody hard bowling fast out here and has led them in their running and swimming exercises. It's been music to my ears to hear the things he's been saying to them and for such a wholehearted and dedicated performer to impart the knowledge that he has picked up here in the past to others is great.''

Fraser will be first in the queue to test out the character of young Mali Richards if Sunday's game goes ahead. ``There will be no need to hold anything back against the lad as far as I'm concerned,'' said Lloyd.

``I used to open the batting against Roy Gilchrist and Chester Watson in the Lancashire League when I was 13 and my son, Graham, was facing Winston Davis at the same age. He once got hit in the face by Hugh Page and put in hospital but he was playing again the next day. I'm sure this young boy will relish the prospect of playing against us and we would just be grateful to get some cricket under our belts.''

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:05