Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.


Article Index

On the occasion of the Award of an Honorary Doctorate of Laws UWI, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados -October 21, 2000

Chancellor, in the words of our Poet Laureate, Edward Kamau Brathwaite:
“This isn’t no time for playing
 the fool nor making no sport; this is cricket”.

And the man before you today, Sir Isaac Vivian Alexander Richards, is the Caribbean incarnation of cricket - its artistry, its entertainment, its culture and its politics.  Let us picture St. John’s, Antigua, nearly 40 years ago, where four young boys, under a scorching hot sun, would play two against two on a full size field, in the heat of the day, all day long.  Now “fast forward” to March 27th, 1981.  Viv Richards, newly married, is striding to the crease in that same Antigua sun, where a test match is being played for the first time.  He is playing before his countrymen, who have put his face on their stamps and dubbed him Ambassador of Antigua.  He is perhaps more nervous going out to bat that day than he has ever been before.

He begins his innings in explosive mood, and his first 50 come almost entirely in boundaries.  With every one, in the words of biographer Trevor McDonald, the very foundations of Antigua seem to tremble with acclamation.  Pelham Cricket Year captured the mood perfectly: “That the man would hit a Test century on his own ground to mark its use as an international arena for the first time was one of cricket’s more predictable happenings.  He began in dominant mood, rested for a while, then flourished again before easing off to his hundred.  It was his first week of married life, his home ground and his 14th  Test hundred”.  His career had come full circle - all seventy seven thousand Antiguans and all cricket loving Caribbean people celebrated the victorious home coming.  He ranks that day as one of the truly great days of his life.

That life began in St. John’s, Antigua, on March the seventh, 1952. He was the son of Malcolm and Gretel Richards, and he had the benefits of being raised by a deeply religious couple, who made sure he was churched three times on Sundays, and a father of strong discipline - a prison officer, no less - and a fine fast bowler for Antigua. One of young Viv’s greatest victories was winning reluctant paternal permission to play Sunday cricket. And one of his greatest lessons was learnt in a Leeward Islands’ tournament at 17, when his adoring fans forced an official to overrule the umpire and reinstate him.  He followed the crowd and learnt a lesson to last a lifetime: “To your own self be true”. In his new book “Sir Vivian - The Definitive Autobiography”, he says “It opened my eyes, and I was a good learner”.  He sums up his upbringing with the words: “We could always rely on the strength of our faith in God”.

Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.

Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.

Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.

Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and

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