Home > Features >

12 little-known facts about Garry Sobers

Garry Sobers was the greatest all-round cricketer ever witnessed in the history of game © Getty Images
Garry Sobers was the greatest all-round cricketer ever witnessed in the history of game © Getty Images

Garfield Sobers, born July 28, 1936, was simply the greatest all-round cricketer ever witnessed in the history of game. He was a freak of nature, who was the best of batsmen, most versatile of bowlers and the supreme acrobat among fieldsmen. Arunabha Sengupta lists 12 little-known facts about this amazing man.

Superlatives tripped liberally from tongues and pen of even the most prosaic and conservative chroniclers of the game, especially during the two decades when Garry Sobers reigned supreme. His giant shadow stretched across every department of the game, his mastery lending sparkle to every specialisation ever eked out of cricket, bar wicket-keeping. During the high noon of his dominance all those Jacks of all Trades, who had paraded themselves as all-rounders, took in the dimensions of his genius and scurried to find a new meaning of their lives and their cricket.

Here are a dozen unique facts about the great man.

1. Garry Sobers was born with six fingers in each hand. The first extra finger fell off before he was 10, jerked out with a piece of cat gut wrapped around the base and hauled off with a sharp tug. He played his first serious cricket match with 11 digits. The remaining additional finger was severed with the help of a sharp knife when Sobers was 14.

2. Denis Atkinson recommended Sobers to Captain Wilfred Farmer, the local inspector of police, advocating his inclusion in the Police Cricket Club. Sobers was barely into his teens at that time and to make the inclusion legitimate, he was asked to play the bugle for the police band.

3. When he went for trials at Barbados, Sobers stood in the covers in his shorts and picked up the ferocious drives of Clyde Walcott with supreme ease, something no fielder in the island could dream of doing.

4. Sobers was just 16 and still playing in his shorts when he was chosen as a last minute replacement against the touring Indians of 1952-53 – his First-Class debut. The Sobers family could not afford flannels for the young man to play his first match. The Barbados cricket Association presented Sobers with his first cricket outfit.

5. Sobers turned out for his island against Len Hutton’s Englishmen in 1953-54. Fred Trueman bowled him a bouncer and as he ducked, his bat jerked up, hitting him on the forehead. According to his autobiography, that was the last time Sobers ducked to a bouncer.

6. Sobers was engaged in a match of street cricket with his friends when a cable from the West Indies Board arrived requesting him to join the team for the Fourth Test against England at Trinidad.

7. From 1961 to 1968, in 33 Tests, Sobers scored 3106 runs at 63.38 with nine hundreds and captured 125 wickets at 27.93

8. Sobers was engaged to Indian actress Anju Mahendru before tying the knot with the Australian girl Pru Kirby.

9. In late 1970 Sobers partnered Ali Bacher in a double wicket tournament in Rhodesia and was paid £600 for two days. He also had lunch with Ian Smith, the Rhodesian premier and described Smith as a great man to talk to. This led to all sorts of complications. The leader of the neighbouring Gambian nation raised objections. Forbes Burnham, the Marxist Prime Minister of Guyana, announced Sobers would not be welcome in his country unless he apologised. Dr. Eric Williams, Prime Minister of Trinidad, also voiced concerns once Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared that she would not allow the Indian team travel for the forthcoming tour unless the matter was sorted out.

Errol Barrow, the Prime Minister of Sobers’ native Barbados, was in America and cut short his trip because of the furore. Finally, after discussions with the all-rounder, Barrow drafted a letter to the Guyana Board of Control for Sobers to sign. This apology was publicised in the papers and broadcast across the islands, and finally brought an end to two months of front page news. See Garry Sobers’ career in photos here

10. In 1967, Sobers authored Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade, a children’s novel in which computer analysis helps a university cricket team become unbeatable.

11. Sobers was also a scratch golfer during his playing days and remained so after his retirement. Throughout his career he was an enthusiastic and incorrigible punter on horses and a major patron of the casinos.

Garry Sobers went on to score an unbeaten 150 despite spending the previous night drinking which continued till the morning © Getty Images
Garry Sobers went on to score an unbeaten 150 against England at Lord’s in 1973 despite spending the previous night drinking which continued till the morning © Getty Images

12. Lord’s 1973. Sobers, 31 not out at the end of the day, was approached by Clive Lloyd for a night out. They visited some Guyanese friends in London, and then spent time with former off-spinner Reg Scarlett in a nightclub. The drinking, interspersed with dancing, went on till it was four o’clock in the morning and the sun was starting to peep through the other end of the sky.

“I have so much liquor in my head that if I go home to the hotel and go to bed, I am not going to wake up,” Sobers confessed to Scarlett. So, as the most obvious alternative, they went to Clarendon Court for some more drinks. And after a shower, Sobers padded up and walked out to resume his innings.

He played and missed the first five balls of the first over bowled by Bob Willis. And then the sixth struck the middle of the bat. And they continued to find the middle till he was 132, when he had to retire because of a desperate need to go to the toilet.In the pavilion, he had his medicine — two glasses of port and brandy mixed together in a potent combination. And he went back to the crease to finish unbeaten on 150. At that time Sobers was past his 37th birthday

Career profile of Garry Sobers

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/senantix)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (14:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad


West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts


Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test


Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Live Cricket Score Duleep Trophy Central Zone vs South Zone, final at Delhi Day 3: HS Sharath last man dismissed as South Zone wind up for 379

Live Cricket Score Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test at Abu Dhabi Day 2

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

Arjun Tendulkar to tour South Africa

South Zone bowled out for 379 against Central Zone in Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final

Ottis Gibson appointed England bowling coach

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 Final: KL Rahul dismissed for a brilliant 185

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Rohit Sharma admits he was nervous during his comeback against Sri Lankans in warm-up tie

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Mythbusting — the claim that playing for a weaker batting side handicaps a batsman has no basis

Younis Khan’s ban: why the ICC is justified

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here