When it comes to cricket, many have made it to the top because of their skills and leadership. But none of them are as historic and memorable as Sir Gary Sobers, the West Indian captain who set record after record during his career.
Widely regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders of all time, he has an aggressive pace bowling and batting style. Sir Gary set himself apart from others because of his on-pitch charisma and beastly skill, unparalleled during his tenure.
If you have never heard of this legendary cricketer before, then continue reading to learn more about Sir Garfield Sobers and his breathtaking performance and career.
Who Is Sir Garfield Sobers?
Sir Garfield Sobers (full name – Garfield St Aubrun Sobers) is a West Indian cricketer who had an illustrious career from 1954 to 1974. Born in “The City” of Bridgetown, Barbados, Sir Gary grew up as the family’s fifth child, with five other siblings.
After his father’s death, a sailor, at sea when he was just five, he dedicated all his time to playing various kinds of sports. Even after being born with two extra fingers (which he chopped off with a knife when he was young), Gary demonstrated extraordinary ability in playing ball games at an early age.
Sir Garfield Sobers has been praised by many famous cricketers like Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar as one of the best cricketers of all time. This is all due to the hard work and deviation he displayed in his illustrious career that spanned more than two decades.
Rise From Barbados: 1951 – 1954
Soon at 13, he got the chance to play against the “big boys” of the local clubs. This is where he trained rigorously with his seniors and developed his left-arm spin bowling technique. After he became one of the best rising bowlers of Barbados, he was scouted to play for the Police Team.
In their practice match against India, he wowed other players and the audience. He did this with an impressive bowling technique that netted him 4 and 3 wickets in both innings.
Soon, he was selected to play against the Marylebone Touring Club (MCC), where he proved his capabilities as an allrounder. He took two wickets and scored 27 and 47, respectively. His performance left an impression on West Indian cricketers Denis Atkinson and Frank King, who invited him to play for the first-class West Indies cricket team.
Early International Career: 1954 – 1957
Sir Garfield Sobers started out as a bowler for West Indies in his debut international test match against England in March 1954. As a bowler, he performed well, taking four wickets in the first innings even though England won the match in the legend.
In his next game with Australia, Sobers was elected to open for the team’s batting order, where he performed well, scoring 64 and 35 not out in both innings, respectively. This is where his aggressive batting skill caught the eye of Australian cricketer Keith Miller, who praised his skills with the bat as well as with the ball.
He went on his first international tour to New Zealand at 19. However, he struggled to perform well because of the grassy pitch of New Zealand compared to the dry and dusty pitches of the West Indies. Here he described his experience –
“I took one look and asked myself how I could possibly bat on that? How could I make runs? I was out before I even walked to the crease.”
Later in the tour against England, he showed his batting capabilities. He was the only person on the team to cross the 30 run mark on both innings since batters were baffled under the pressure of notorious English spinners Jim Laker and Tony Lock.
365 Not Out And Rise To Fame (1958 – 1964)
While the popularity of Sir Garfield Sobers was increasing slowly, he failed to make a definite milestone in his career so far. He has played many international series so far but failed to make an impressive performance.
However, it all changed when he played against Pakistan in 1958. Being the opener for West Indies, he scored a record 354 runs in a single inning. This was a historic moment in cricket as he beat the previous record of 364 runs of Britisher Len Hutton.
This was a major milestone because he did so at the age of 21, becoming the youngest triple centurion – a record he holds till now. However, his 365 runs were beaten by future West Indian legend Brian Lara twice later when he scored 375 and 400 against England.
After his historical performance, there was a significant improvement in his form and skill as an all-rounder. He batted with an exceptionally high test average of 94. He also performed well in most of his international tours, scoring centuries in many matches. He was crowned Wisden Cricketer of The Year eight times in thirteen years, where Wisden himself has this to say about him –
“To Sobers, a tall left-handed all-rounder fell the distinction of hitting the highest score of the tour: 219 not out against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge. Sobers undoubtedly was a very fine stroke-player who should go far”
Captain Of The West Indies And Retirement (1965 – 1974)
After Sir Frank Worrell stepped down as the captain of the West Indies in 1964, he chose Sir Garfield Sobers as his successor. This proved beneficial for Sobers career, as he started playing well and winning international series one after the other.
During his stint as the captain, he became the first batsman ever to hit six 6’s in an over in an international test match. After knocking English bowler Malcolm Nash’s sixth ball outside the stadium, umpire Wild Woller had this to say about the spectacle he had just witnessed –
“And he’s done it! He’s done it! And my goodness, it’s gone ... way down to Swansea!”
Sir Garfield Sobers soon became one of the most celebrated cricketers during his time, with his batting skill said to rival that of Sir Donald Bradman. Gary Sobers was exceptionally great as the West Indian captain, clinching victories in most of the international series he played on.
After a successful first-class international cricket career that lasted 20 years, he was succeeded by Rohan Kanhai as the captain. He played his last test match against England in the Oval in 1974, under the captaincy of Kanhai.
Sir Garfield Sobers Stats
After his retirement, Garfield Sobers left behind a legacy that has been held in high regard by fellow West Indian cricketers like Chris Gayle and Viv Richards.
Other players and commentators like Richie Benaud said that Gary is “the greatest all-round cricketer the world has seen” and even went on to say that –
“Sobers 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”
Sir Garfield Sobers had a great career, which his international cricket statistics can depict.
Sir Garfield Sobers Batting Statistics
|Average Run Rate||57.78||0|
Sir Garfield Sobers Bowling Statistics
|Best Bowling in Innings||6/73||1/31|
|Best Bowling in Match||8/80||1/31|
Frequently Asked Questions:
Many consider him a national hero because he is one of the greatest cricketers of all time. Being from Barbados and the West Indies, his people feel pride in uttering his name.
Garfield Sobers was a left-handed spin bowler specializing in delivering wrist spins and googlies.
The Garfield Sobers Trophy is given to the ICC’s best international cricketer of the year.
Gary Sobers hit English bowler Malcolm Nash for six sixes.
Many recognize Sir Garfield Sobers as one of the greatest cricketers of all time. He is an impressive all-rounder who stunned everyone with his left-arm wrist spins and googlies. He was a ferocious beast who owned the 22-yard pitch as a batsman.
Even after playing only test matches, he has one of the highest run rates in test matches of all time. He is the first (previously) and the youngest player to score the highest ever single innings run in a test match (365). He also thrashed Malcolm Nash for six sixes in any first-class cricket match for the first time.
If you liked reading about the success story of Sir Garfield Sobers, then head to our site and read the profiles of other great cricketers too!