Viv Richards a hit but Jets strike out

HE may be the Master Blaster and a mentor to the Big Bash table-topping Melbourne Stars, but Sir Vivian Richards’s Midas touch did not work on the Newcastle Jets on New Year's Day.

The fit-as-a-fiddle 60-year-old West Indies cricket legend, who still boasts his famous swagger and looks like he could match it with the current crop, is a long-time friend of Jets marquee striker Emile Heskey and addressed the players at the team hotel before the 2-1 loss to Melbourne Heart.

Richards has known Heskey since the striker was at English Premier League club Liverpool, whom the cricketer supports.

Heskey was born in Leicester, but his parents are from Antigua, as is Richards, and the pair have formed a strong bond.

In Melbourne to work with the Shane Warne-led Stars, Richards took time out to catch up with his mate and try to inspire the Jets to a win.

‘‘We didn’t know anything about it,’’ Jets defender and cricket follower Scott Neville said.

‘‘We had a video session and then he walked through the door. Most of us were star struck ... it was Sir Viv Richards.

‘‘He listened to what [coach] Gary [van Egmond] told us and then said a few words.

‘‘The main message was that when we walk out on to the field, it is like war.

‘‘He was a down-to-earth bloke and is obviously good friends with Emile.’’

Richards’s appearance followed that of Newcastle-born Liverpool legend Craig Johnston in the Jets sheds before the 2-1 win over Sydney on December 22.

‘‘It has been huge,’’ Neville said. ‘‘It is a privilege to have these kind of people come and talk to us.’’

Neville aggravated a hamstring injury late in the game and is in doubt for the clash against Adelaide United at Hunter Stadium on Saturday, the first of two straight at home. 

‘‘It is pretty sore,’’ Neville said. ‘‘I missed the Victory game and got it ready for today and the last five minutes I felt it. It was more precautionary, but we will see how it pulls up.’’

Neville came in for Dominik Ritter, who is also troubled by a hamstring issue and is in doubt for Saturday.

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