Sir Garfield Sobers
MEET A BAJAN - Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers: The world's most famous Barbadian
Written By Katy Gash/ Keith Miller, Left Photo by Patrick Eagar
Published in the Ins and Outs of Barbados magazine 2007
Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers, cricketer extraordinaire, is unquestionably the greatest sportsman ever to hail from the shores of Barbados, and quite possibly the island’s greatest ambassador as well. He has also been globally acknowledged as the greatest all-round cricketer ever to grace the game.
Known affectionately as Sir Garry – even before the official title was royally bestowed upon him in 1975 by Queen Elizabeth II – he was the fifth of six children born to Shamont and Thelma Sobers and grew up in the working-class district of Bayland, St. Michael. His father, a merchant seaman, died at sea during WWII when Sir Garry was just five years old, and this left his mother to raise their large family alone.
Interesting to note is that though Sir Garry would rise to become one of the finest all-rounders of all time, and one of the game’s most proficient fielders, at birth his hands bore the odd deformity of having six digits each, instead of five. The extra fingers were surgically removed in his early boyhood.
By the time Sir Garry was a teenager, his amazing natural talent as a cricketer was astonishingly undeniable. At 13 years old he was chosen to represent two First Division teams, Kent in one league and the Police Club in another.
Three years later, when just 16 years old, he was called up to represent the senior Barbados team as they faced off against an Indian touring side.
Garry Sobers impressed the regional cricketing fraternity with debut bowling figures of 4 wickets for 50 runs, off 22 overs, with 5 maidens. From that day on, he began his monumental contribution to the sport of cricket across the world.
Just a year later, aged 17, he was selected by the West Indies to play in the 1954 Test series against England. Again he impressed on debut, this time to an international audience, when at Sabina Park in Jamaica, he copped 4 wickets for 75 runs.
Few could have guessed that Sabina Park would again be graced with his astounding prowess 4 years later, this time in the form of his batting. In 1958 Sir Garry rewrote the record books when he scored 365 not out against touring Pakistan. Still a youthful 21 years old, it was his first triple-digit test score, and it surpassed the previous record of 364 amassed by the legendary Sir Leonard Hutton. What made it an even greater feat was the fact that it took Sir Garry 3 hours less than it had taken Sir Leonard when he made his record score.
Over a 20-year career that spanned more than 90 Tests, including a record 85 consecutive test matches, Sir Garry did more than just amass mind-boggling statistics. As a player of the ‘gentleman’s game’, he was a giant whose very presence commanded respect, and whose genius as a cricketer won him the admiration of fans and players worldwide. Even his graceful, relaxed walk, his turned up collar and his ever-present smile are part of his legend. The world will arguably never see a cricketer of his all-round ability again.
The Rt. Excellent Sir Garfield St. Auburn Sobers is a National Hero of Barbados and he is the world’s most famous Barbadian.