Garry Sobers – the man who could do everything

Some lovely Garry Sobers anecdotes at this Cricket Monthly article, written for his upcoming 80th birthday. I put just a few of them below.

Ian Chappell, former Australia captain
A lot of people thought of Sobers as a natural who just played the game and did not think a hell of a lot about what he did. But he was very thoughtful. In fact, once, Mosman, the club in Sydney, was looking for a coach and the president had dinner with him and said, “Garry, we would love to have you as a coach, but you haven’t got the qualifications.” Garry said to him: “What did you think I got my knighthood for?”

Geoff Boycott, England batsman
There is another great story. They were playing in England and Geoff Boycott came to him one day and said, “Garry, you seem to get me out lbw a lot. I don’t understand it.” Garry was quite good psychologically as well. He said to Boycott, “Unlike a lot of people, Geoffrey, I don’t think your technique is that good.” That would have cut Boycott to the quick because he prided himself on his technique. “Your front foot is too far across. You can’t get your bat around your pad and my inswinger gets you lbw. That’s what is happening.”

They go out on the field next day. Boycott is batting. Sobers runs up, bowls the first ball, angles it across, Boycott edges, gets caught at slip. As he is walking off, Sobey says to him, “Geoffrey, you didn’t ask me about the other one.”

Alan Davidson, former Australia allrounder
The bloke could do just about anything on a cricket field except umpire. He was a complete cricketer, magnificent fielder, bowled all types of bowling, and when in form, he absolutely decimated great bowling attacks. You could not set a field to him because he just had that innate ability to be able to score runs whenever he wanted to.

In the tied Test in Brisbane he scored a century where he just bisected the field and it was absolutely one of the greatest innings I have ever seen in my life. He didn’t just beat the field. He split the field. His placement was just incredible. In the second dig I just thought I would try something a little bit different. I eventually got him with a yorker. In the previous overs I’d bowled slow at him, varying my pace before I delivered the fast yorker, and it got through him. My emotions got the better of me; I was over-elated, because he was such a dominant batsman. When he was in form, a lot of bowlers used to give up on him. If he is hitting your best ball for a four then you know he is going to massacre you.

Mark Nicholas, commentator and former Hampshire captain
He turned up at Nottingham for the first time – 1968. The players hardly saw him till practice the day before the first Gillette Cup match [against Lancashire]. He was captain. It was cold and he came down the steps of the pavilion, wandered over to the nets wrapped tight in a sheepskin coat. He shook hands with everyone, watched for ten minutes, then left. Next morning he arrived an hour before the game. Changed, put on a couple of jumpers, stretched and went out to toss. “We’re bowling, fellas,” he said. He took three for not many. Then they got into trouble chasing a low score, about 50 for 3 chasing 170-odd. He strolled out against the best seam attack in the country – Higgs, Statham, Shuttleworth, Lever and Wood – and made 75 not out. Notts won with ten overs to spare. After he received the Man-of-the-Match award, he came into the dressing room and said, “Well played all you fellas, now who we got in de next round?” Mike Taylor says they all just gawped at him in awe.

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