January 12, 1962- Richard Benjamin ‘Richie’ Richardson was born to Samuel and Elfrieda Richardson and raised in the village of Five Islands. He began his early education at the Five Islands Primary School in 1967 and in 1974 he gained a scholarship to attend the Ottos Comprehensive School. Upon graduating secondary school in 1980, he attended Antigua State College.
Much of Richardson’s life was influenced by his mother as his father died when he was six years old. He recalls her as being a loving, caring and understanding parent who taught him to be respectable and go to school. She instilled in him a sense of independence and even taught him to do household tasks including sewing his own clothes.
Richardson is best known for his exploits in the world of cricket; a journey that began at a very young age. In reminiscing, he shares that, as young children, he and his peers would make bats out of coconut branches and pieces of old board and they would utilise milk cans, oranges, lemons, small coconuts and anything else they could find that would function as a ball. He notes that over time, they began using tennis balls that they found near the Hawksbill and Galley Bay Hotels which they lived in close proximity to. Eventually, they began using a red plastic shell ball which he highlights was ‘a good introduction to the proper hard cricket ball, which I first played with at secondary school’.
One fond memory he recalls of his early years of cricket was being sent on an errand in the village by his mother and coming across villagers listening ‘intently’ to the broadcast of a cricket match, which included the West Indies Cricket Team, on a transistor radio. He recalls the excitement of the listeners as the names of cricket legends such as Sobers, Hall, Griffith, Kanhai and others were mentioned and figured that those cricketers must have really been doing something great for the West Indies Team. He became so intrigued by this that he decided that he wanted to be like them someday and it was then that he began taking the sport seriously.
He first played cricket for Antigua and Barbuda in 1979, the Leeward Island Team in 1982 and the West Indies Cricket Team from 1983 to 1996. Other clubs that he would have played with included Yorkshire County Cricket Club (1993/1994), Northern Transvaal Cricket Club (1996/1997) and Lashings World Eleven (1996-2011). His dedication to the sport earned him the position of captain a number times which included captaining the Leeward Islands Team, the West Indies Senior Team (1991), and the West Indies B Team. He also captained the Lashings World Eleven.
He was a right hand batsman with a classic hook shot and for his limited bowling a right hand medium pacer. He became known for his personal style, a wide brim maroon sunhat, which he eventually trademarked and commercialised. His test debut was November 1983, West Indies vs India, with innings of 0 and 26 respectively. in a drawn encounter. His highest test score is 194 of 146 innings to include 27 50s and 16 100s. He also bowled 4 maidens for 18 runs in in his 7 overs and held 90 catches. His stint as captain included 24 matches, of which 11 were won and 6 lost. He played 86 test matches. His One Day International debut was December 17, 1983 for 46 runs, with West Indies victorious. His highest One Day International (ODI) score 122. He played 224 ODI, scoring 6,248 runs which included 5 100s and 44 50s. Sir Richie captured one (1) wicket from 6 overs in his ODI career. Richardson served a two-year tour of duty as Team Manager of Windies from 2011. As a member of the ICC Elite Panel of Referees since 2015 Sir Richie has officiated all formats of the game for a combined total of more then 200 to date.
On February 28, 2014 the Government of Antigua and Barbuda appointed Richard Benjamin Richardson Knight Commander of the Order of the Nation, the country’s second highest honour for services to cricket. On October 9, 2022 Sir Richie was conferred with honourary Doctor of Laws Degree (LLD) by The University of the West Indies, Five Islands Campus (the UWI FC) for his contribution to sports in the region.
Of all his accomplishments over the years, the ones he counts as most notable include winning every single match during the first year he captained the Leeward Islands Team, playing in three ICC Cricket World Cup tournaments and being a part of the West Indies squad that beat England 5 – 0 in consecutive home and away series in 1995 and 1996. He recalls his most memorable game as being a debut Test match in Mumbai, India, in which he was given out LBW off the face of the bat for zero
Richardson credits cricket for key areas of his personal and professional development which included being disciplined, methodical and strategic and affording him the opportunity to travel the world and create a network of friends and business associates. His involvement in the sport has done much for national development by giving the country exposure both regionally and internationally. He has given back to the community in numerous ways to include arranging overseas tours and scholarships for young Antiguan cricketers, conducting motivational talks at different schools and lending his name to the organising of various cricket tournaments.
He currently serves as a member of the Cricket Kindness Charity Organisation which sources cricket equipment in Australia and the UK and distributes them to schools across Antigua and Barbuda. He is a sponsor of the Five Islands Football Club, serves as a board member of the Kiwanis AR Fusion Club, President of the Striving for Excellence Antigua Golf Program and director of the Five Islands Community Development Organisation. He is also currently working with the cricketing knights of Antigua and Barbuda to create the ‘Four Knights Cricket Academy’.
Richardson is of the view that financial support from businesses will always be a challenge for the sport due to the country’s small population. To combat this, he recommends that the government should ‘work closely with the schools and communities to put a structure in place and make it attractive to the business sector’.
These days, Richardson’s favourite pastime is playing golf and playing music with his band, the Spirited Band, two nights per week. He also enjoys gardening, building furniture in his workshop or just chilling on the sea on a Sunday afternoon. Stemming from his passion for sports and cultural development in Antigua and Barbuda, he operates a business called ‘ Richie Rich Sports Management & Entertainment Service Inc and he currently works as a consultant with the International Cricket Council as an Elite Panel Match Referee. He maintains that it is his ‘burning desire to contribute to the development of the game of cricket in the Caribbean and globally and to see that the game becomes a fully globalised sport’.