Sir Garry Sobers, who turns 80 today, is our Legend of the Week, brought to you by Aquavita.
According to Wisden, there’s not much in it between Sir Donald Bradman and Sobers as the greatest cricketer to have ever lived. He’s second on the list of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Century, but there’s no doubt that he’s the finest all-rounder to have graced the game.
Sobers was an expert at all aspects of the game. His batting average of 57.78 from 93 Tests is just the start in explaining his talents. His elegant yet powerful style in the middle order, usually at No 5 or 6, saw him blaze 26 centuries. His 365 against Pakistan in 1958 remained a record for decades, and he was also the first to score six consecutive sixes in an over, playing for Nottinghamshire against the unfortunate Malcolm Nash of Glamorgan.
He could have made the West Indies side as a bowler alone, and indeed he did at the beginning of his career. He could open with his left-arm pace, but he was also more than capable of bowling two types of spin – left-arm orthodox and wrist spin. He took 235 Test wickets at 34.03. He was a fine close fielder, too, but excelled wherever he placed himself on the field.
He was an enterprising captain who wasn’t afraid to take risks, and sometimes he was too risky as an early declaration gifted England a victory in Port of Spain in 1968. He scored 254 when he led the Rest of the World to victory against Australia in 1971.
He was knighted for his services in 1975, and continues to inspire generations of cricketers in the Caribbean.
Photo: Central Press/Getty Images