Garry Sobers Biography
He was a freak of nature, the likes of whom the world has never been seen before or since.
Ray Robinson called him “evolution’s ultimate specimen of cricketers.” CLR James, known for his emancipation-linked hyperboles, went further, marking him “the living embodiment of centuries of tortured history… a West Indian cricketer, not merely a cricketer from the West Indies.”
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, perhaps because he was never asked to constrain his versatility in big gloves.
As a batsman he was undoubtedly the best in the world in his times, certainly the most sublime attacking stroke-player, and till this day stands as one of the most supreme wielders of the willow across the entire history of the game. As a bowler, there have been many better, but none as versatile. He could take the new ball, run in quick and make it dart about. When the ball was older, he could spin it in time honoured orthodox manner. Or he could resort to turning it from the back of his hand, sharply and in both ways. And as a fielder, he could pouch half-chances in the slip, and at leg-slip grab even those which did not register as any fraction of a chance at all. If, for the sake of variety he was placed in the covers, he could chase like a greyhound and pick up and throw in one action, searing, flat and accurate. He was undoubtedly the greatest all-round fielder of the era, perhaps of all-time.
The king that he was on the field, he was a reluctant leader. Sobers the night-owl was never one for discipline or curfew, and he was not going to impose it on his team. Moreover he had no time for inter-island politics — so abundant in West Indies cricket. He could spend the night in a bar and walk out to score Test hundreds, but this was not the ideal approach for leadership. He was a canny captain, but his sometimes curious attitude and decisions led to criticism, and at least once an infamous defeat.
When he ended his career, he was the highest run-getter in Test cricket, with the highest individual score in an innings. From the 365 not out which was his first ever Test century to the 254 against Rest of The World which left Dennis Lillee gaping with admiration, interspersed with the six sixes in an over off Maloclm Nash, he was a batsman who comes once in several life times. However, he also finished as the second-highest wicket taker for West Indies and third in the world on the table of catches held by non-wicketkeepers.