SYDNEY: Legendary batsman Viv Richards was Friday named as the latest recruit to the ranks of Shane Warne's Australian Twenty20 side, with the West Indian to mentor the Melbourne Stars.
Warne, who will skipper the team in the domestic Big Bash League, was keen to have the man dubbed the “Master Blaster” onboard for their second season, and Richards said he was relishing getting involved.
“I've been out of cricket for quite some time,” the 60-year-old told reporters at the Melbourne Cricket Ground where in 1984 he smashed 208 against Australia in a Test.
“To be given an opportunity to come back to the scene of the crime, I'm very excited about that.”
Richards said he would be very hands-on in his approach to mentoring.
“I'm going to be around. I'm not one of these individuals who's going to be here basically for my looks,” he said.
Richards, who is acknowledged as one of the greatest cricketers of the 20th century, said he liked what he saw when it came to Twenty20 cricket -- a shorter form of the game than the one-day internationals and Tests he played.
“I myself would have been happy to have played some of the shots these guys do today,” he said.
“But that's how time runs. Whatever period of time we had, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I never try to look behind me.”
The Melbourne Star's chairman of selectors Ian Chappell said securing Richards' expertise was “a huge coup for the team”.
“As a player Viv set himself high standards with former Pakistan captain Imran Khan describing him as 'a batsman who intimidated bowlers',” he said.
“He was also one of the best all-round fieldsmen I've seen -- brilliant in any position from cover to slips and even at bat pad.”
Melbourne Stars chief executive Clint Cooper said the team had assembled one of the most star-studded T20 teams and coaching squads.
It includes Australia's highest ever wicket-taker with 708 Test scalps in Warne as well as Sri Lankan Twenty20 star paceman Lasith Malinga and Australia's James Pattinson and David Hussey.
Richards scored 8,540 runs in 121 Tests and with his explosive batting played a starring role in the all-conquering Windies team that did not lose a Test series between 1980 and 1995.
Despite the impressive line-up, Richards joked he would be happy to take to the field if injuries demanded it.
“I'm a little long in the tooth for that now but you never know,” he said.
The BBL kicks off on December 7 with the Melbourne Stars playing their city rivals, the Melbourne Renegades.