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Sir Garry Sobers

Sir Garry Sobers

While Sir Donald Bradman’s status as the greatest batsman is increasingly under threat, no one raised an eyebrow at Garry Sobers. Sir Garry Sobers, a former cricketer who played for the West Indies between 1954 to 1974, and few would argue his claim as the finest all-round player in modern cricket.

Sobers was born in Bridgetown, Barbados as the fifth child in a typically large West Indian family. Sobers made his first-class debut for the Barbados cricket team in 1953 at the age of 16, and made his Test debut for the West Indies in the following year against England, predominantly as a bowler.

Originally playing mainly as a bowler as his leading suit with batting playing the sidekick to it. He was remarkably versatile with the ball, bowling two style of spin – left are orthodox and wrist spin. Oh wait, add left-arm swing to the list too. As his glorious career progressed, he was soon promoted to the batting order. His exceptional Test batting average is an indication of Sobers’ adaptive abilities. His elegant yet powerful style marked by all the shots, but memorably his off-side play.

He was a super agile fieldsman to boot, and his catching close to the wicket may have been equaled but never surpassed. He displayed the same gladiatorial intensity at every corner of the ground while fielding for his team.

His batsmanship reached its peak when he struck his maiden Test century progressing to 365 not out and establishing a new record for the highest individual score in an innings versus Pakistan at home, a record that stood for 36 long years until Brain Lara snatched the honour in 1994.

He was made captain of the West Indies in 1965, a role which he would hold until 1974. He was an enterprising captain, leading West Indies in 39 Tests until Clive Llyod rose to take his tally.

His achievements are numerous – including the sic consecutive sixes hit off a Malcom Nash over for Nottinghamshire against Glomorgan in 1968, a superb innings of 254 for the Rest of the World against Australia in 1971, thus adding another first to his record book.

As a batsman, overall Sobers played 160 innings in 93 Test matches for West Indies and scored 8032 runs with an average of 57.78, which includes 26 centuries and 30 half centuries. Sobers has the fourth highest batting average in Test cricket in the list of cricketers with more than 5000 runs. In his 383 first-class matches, Sobers scored over 28,000 runs with an average of around 55 which include 86 hundreds and 121 half-centuries.

As a bowler, Sobers took 235 wickets in 93 matches with the bowling average of 34.03. He also took over 1000 wickets in 383 first-class matches. Sobers spent several seasons in English league cricket, he achieved a rare ‘double’ by scoring 1008 runs and taking 144 wickets in 1961. He also served South Australia, becoming first cricketer to score 1000 runs with 50 wickets in the same season in 1962-63.

Sobers played his last test in March 1974 at Queen’s Park Oval against England under Rohan Kanhai as new captain of West Indies. In the 1975 New Year Honours, Queen Elizabeth II created Sobers a Knight Bachelor for his services to cricket. After being made as the National Hero of Barbados by the Cabinet of Barbados, Sobers was named by a 100-member panel of cricketing experts as one of the five Wisden Cricketers of the Century in 2000. In 2004, ICC inaugurated the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy which is awarded annually to the player selected by ICC as its Player of the Year.