Garfield Sobers: Star among All-rounders

Hindustan Times, New Delhi | ByHT Correspondent
Jul 30, 2019 09:50 AM IST

Known as Gary (or Garry) Sobers, he is regarded among the greatest all-round cricketers. He was an elegant batsman, sharp fielder, spin & fast-medium bowler as well as spirited captain.

Born on July 28, 1936 in Bridgetown, Barbados, to Shamont and Thelma Sobers, young Garfield was the fifth of six siblings. He was just six years old when his father passed away. He attended the Bay St. School, Barbados and excelled in several sports like cricket, football and basketball. Aged 13, he represented two teams and honed his bowling and batting skills.

Gary Sobers’ all-round brilliance that helped the West Indies team win the 1966 series against England by 3-1 earned him the nickname - King Cricket.(Illustration: Rushikesh Gophane)
Gary Sobers’ all-round brilliance that helped the West Indies team win the 1966 series against England by 3-1 earned him the nickname - King Cricket.(Illustration: Rushikesh Gophane)


In 1953, Sobers made his first-class debut at 16 against the Indian touring team at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown in Barbados, during which he took seven wickets.A year later, in March 1954, he made his Test debut against England at Sabina Park in Kingston, Jamaica and took four wickets.

He scored his maiden Test century versus Pakistan in 1958 and went on to smash an unbeaten 365, thus setting a record for the highest individual score in an innings. That record stayed unbroken till 1994, when Brian Lara piled up a score of 375 runs.

Between 1958 and 1965, Sobers’ immense talent and ability came to the fore in the form of a dozen Test centuries.

He was made the captain of the West Indies team in 1965, a role that he held till 1972. He was also the skipper of a Rest of the World XI during the 1970 tour of England.

Sobers became the first batsman ever to hit six sixes in a single over. The feat consisted of five clean hits for six and one six where the ball was caught but carried over the boundary by Roger Davis. Sobers’ achieved the feat as the captain of Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan at St. Helen’s, Swansea on August 31, 1968.

The hapless bowler was Malcolm Nash and Sobers’ 36 run-blitz in an over had smashed a 57-year-old record of 34 runs in an over held by Ted Alletson. An 11-year-old boy named Richard Lewis collected the ball involved in the record from a garden and later gave the ball to Sobers.

Awards & Achievements

He was named the West Indies’ Cricketer of the Year for 1958–59. In 1964, he was conferred the title of Wisden Cricketer of the Year. And in 1975, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to cricket. The title of Wisden Cricketer of the Century was bestowed on Sobers in 2000.

Four years later, the International Cricket Council instituted the Sir Garfield Sobers Trophy in his honour. It is awarded to the ICC Player of the Year.

High Praise

Describing Sobers as the greatest all-round cricketer the world has seen, Australian cricketer and great commentator Richie Benaud elaborated that the West Indies’ legend was “a brilliant batsman, splendid fielder, particularly close to the wicket, and a bowler of extraordinary skill, whether bowling with the new ball, providing orthodox left-arm spin or over-the-wrist spin”.

Following his success as the skipper of the West Indies during the tour of England in 1966, the 1967 edition of Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack declared that for Sobers “(the 1966 Tests) were one triumph after another with bat and ball, as well as in the field as a master tactician and fantastic catcher close to the bat.”

Interesting Facts

1.Praising Sobers for his score of 254 runs, which he scored for the Rest of the World against Australia in Melbourne in January 1972, Sir Don Bradman described it as “one of the greatest exhibition of batting ever seen in Australia”. On another occasion, Bradman had described Sobers as a ‘five in one cricketer’.

2.The Barbados government named Sobers as one of its ten National Heroes’ and conferred on him the title ‘The Right Excellent’ in the year 1998. Trinidadian Calypso artist Mighty Sparrow composed a song in his honour, titled Sir Garfield Sobers.

3.Sobers’ all-round brilliance that helped the West Indies team win the series against England by 3-1 in 1966 earned him the nickname King Cricket. His tally of 722 runs during the series included three centuries at an astonishing average of 103, 20 wickets and 10 catches.

4.When Sobers scored a triple century in 1958, he became the youngest cricketer to achieve the feat and to break an individual record in Tests. At the time, he was 21 years and 216 days. The triple ton by Sobers came in the third Test against Pakistan in 1958. It also involved a 446-run second-wicket stand with Conrad Hunte.

5.Apart from being a great sportsman, Sobers also tried his hand at literature. He wrote a work of science-fiction for children titled Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade. It revolves around a scholar involved in a project wherein he programs a computer to select a cricket team and train its members.

Sources: Wikipedia,,

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