Sydney, April 9 (IANS) Viv Richards has revealed that former South African President Nelson Mandela had thanked him for not going to the country as part of the infamous West Indies rebel tours between 1982 and 1984.
Richards said that he had met Mandela in Monaco as the former West Indies captain was one of the founding members of the Laureus Sport for Good, which was founded under Mandela’s patronage.
“We had our retreat in I think it was Monaco at the time and he (Mandela) came as a chief guest. Nelson walked up to meet everyone,” Richards said in a podcast hosted by former Australia all-rounder Shane Watson.
“He stopped right in front of me, shook my hand and said, “Vivian I want to let you know that we are extremely pleased with the decision that you made of not coming to our country.” Long before that I had made the decision not to go to South Africa during the Apartheid regime,” he said.
Mandela also told him that he used to listen to the radio and follow matches between West Indies and England in the years he spent in jail and feel inspired.
West Indies teams led by Lawrence Rowe and featuring former World Cup winner Colin Croft had toured South Africa when it was exiled from international cricket due to its Apartheid regime.
Former South African Test batsman Ali Bacher, who had organised the tours, had been turned down by Richards with the latter saying that he had been given an open cheque to come to the country. Richards, like many of his teammates who were regulars in West Indies at the time, refused.