Sir Garfield Sobers could do anything on a cricket field. he was a left-hand batsman of the highest quality, an excellent bowler of pace, off spin, and leg spin, and the best fielder of his era. In effect, Sobers was worth two or three players on any given cricket team he played for, even at international level: a genius capable of wresting the initiative away from the opposition at any point in any game. As if to underline this point, he reserved arguably his greatest performance for a World XI vs Australia match in 1972, the highest possible stage.
'Garry' Sobers' Test batting average was an exceptional 57.78, and he took 235 Test wickets. Other feats included 365 runs in one Test innings (a world record that stood for over 30 years), six sixes in one over in a first-class game, and captained West Indies between 1965-1972.
The great West Indies all-rounder was more shy and quiet off the field than one might expect, given his consummate ability, but he had such an impact on the cricket world that there is an abundance of quotes about him. Sobers has also had plenty of opportunities to share his views, given his place in the game. Here's a collection of quotes by and about Sir Garfield Sobers that illustrate his character and legend.
Sobers On Sobers:
- On being able to switch on and off: "Concentration's like a shower. You don't turn it on until you want to bathe. That was cricket for me."
- On cricket batting technique: "Feet are the most important thing in batsmanship [...] It goes for everything - football, boxing. If your feet are in the right spot, you're a good player."
- On natural talent: "If you see kids with a lot of ability, don't coach them."
- On early-career struggles on green New Zealand pitches: "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."
- On his record six sixes in an over (see video): "Believe me, I never played for records. Six sixes were not in my mind. It was just the situation. We were looking to make a declaration [...] But after five sixes, a record in itself, I knew I had to go for it."
- On that record's strong appeal: "Wherever I go, any part of the world, everybody mentions the six sixes. It seems as though it's the only thing I've ever done in cricket."
- On comparing cricketing greats from different eras: "The game is different to when I played [...] you can't really class the players of the past with the players of the present because there's so many differences."
- On the press pack: "I've got so much out of the game [...] but in cricket, it doesn't matter how good you perform, when you're coming to the end of your days you always get the press after you."
- On match-fixing: "I certainly hope that they'll find a way in which they can get it out of cricket because cricket is such a wonderful game."
- On his love of golf, a game he wishes he had pursued: "I got to really love the game because it also brings the character out in a person, more so than any other sport."
- On the decline of the West Indies team (quoted in 2002): "during the year that the West Indies team was winning, they never really tried to bring the youngsters through. All they were saying was, 'You don't change a winning team.' [...] I think that is why today they're struggling so."
Others On Sobers:
- "Evolution's ultimate specimen in cricketers" -cricket writer Ray Robinson
- "He could do anything [...] he is the most complete all-round cricketer I have ever seen." -Broadcaster and former Australia cricket captain Richie Benaud
- "One of the greatest cricketers ever to have graced the game, certainly the greatest all-rounder" -former England fast bowler Fred Trueman
- "The only 360-degree player in the game [...] right through every degree on the compass" -former South Africa cricketer Barry Richards
- "One who did all things on the cricket field with ease, but who encountered the difficulty off it of having to be all things to all men." -cricket writer Gideon Haigh
- "The finest all-round player in the history of cricket [...] Everything he did was marked by a natural grace, apparent at first sight." -Wisden cricket writer John Arlott on the occasion of Sobers' retirement from full-time cricket aged 38
- "The rise of Sobers has been phenomenal. When he began his Test career ten years ago he gained his place solely on his merit as a left-arm slow bowler. Next he developed his batting and soon opened the innings against Australia. Then he tried his hand at fast bowling and became deadly with the new ball." -Wisden Cricketer of the Year citation, 1964
- "It was a delight to be punished by Sobers. I am grateful to have played during his time, just as I had wished to bowl to Bradman and Tendulkar." -former India spin bowler Bishen Bedi
- "I was just part of history and there was nothing I could do. It was just one over in my life. Would I take it back? Never. I just wish I got paid for it. It would have made me rich." -Malcolm Nash, whom Sobers hit for six sixes in an over
- "Sobers had that certain X-factor, the charisma that made players such as Imran Khan, Viv Richards, Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Brian Lara and Shane Warne stand out from the rest." -West Indies cricket journalist Tony Cozier
- "He had no agenda. He kept away from politics. He carried no cultural baggage. He had no cause. He was a free bird, soaring and soaring and soaring" -sports writer Nirmal Shekar