Proteas legend Richards says exclusion from international cricket was 'painful'

Sydney, Nov 24(ANI): South Africa legend Barry Richards, who is remembered as the brilliant stroke player restricted to just four Tests by the African nation's apartheid-forced cricket isolation, has said the pain of his exclusion from international cricket was only magnified playing first-class cricket with and against stars he respected.

This Durban dynamo Richards, who crunched 508 runs at 72.57 in South Africa's 4-0 home demolition of Australia in 1969-70, was heralded as cricket's next Bradman, and included in the Don's best XI despite his minimal Test experience.

South Australian cricket was the initial beneficiary of Richards' heartbreaking international exile.

Richards blazed 325 of 356 for SA against a West Australian side featuring Dennis Lillee, Graham McKenzie, Tony Lock, Tony Mann and John Inverarity in Perth on November 20, 1970.

Richards plundered 28,358 runs and 80 centuries at 54.74 in 339 first-class matches, and opened with West Indies superstar Gordon Greenidge at Hampshire, proving that he could do the business in elite company.

However, Richards believes the missed opportunity to play against world's top players during his prime was a big setback for him.

"It is a tough one. Your whole being as a sportsman is to represent your country and to have that denied is a disappointment in the prime of your career," News.com.au quoted Richards, as saying.

"I was fortunate to play a lot of county cricket with Gordon Greenidge and you look down the end and think you can play as well as that. That was the benchmark for me and probably made it a little bit more disappointing in many ways," he added. (ANI)