March 7, 2010

An evening with Sir Garry

Ayaz Memon
The debate about the game's greatest batsman may be all the rage today. But is there any doubt as to who is the most skilled cricketer of all time?
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I went to a reunion and felicitation of Ajit Wadekar's 1971 team last Thursday at Mumbai's Nehru Centre with mixed feelings. The presence of Sir Garfield Sobers as chief guest was a huge attraction, but only a day earlier a press conference at which he spoke seemed to have been afflicted by India's current rage: finding out who the greatest batsman in the game has been.

Sobers, provoked into the debate, had rated Gavaskar ahead of Tendulkar, primarily because he had played against Gavaskar and seen him excel in an era of uncovered wickets and little protective gear against some of the most fearsome bowlers. Sobers also said Tendulkar had met every expectation one could have of a batsman, but that had been lost in the din. Was this event going to be an extension of a debate that was rapidly becoming farcical?

Thankfully it wasn't. The evening had the right mix of nostalgia, pathos and cricket, even if it was a tad long-drawn. Most of the players were there (barring Sunil Gavaskar, G Viswanath and Govindraj, who were not for varying reasons), and to get the wives of Dilip Sardesai, Ashok Mankad, Eknath Solkar, ML Jaisimha and P Krishnamurthy - all deceased - to fill in for their husbands was a terrific thought; and to get Sobers to be chief guest was a brainwave. The presence of Sachin Tendulkar, MS Dhoni and Zaheer Khan lent the evening not just contemporary star value but also relevance.

This was brought out eloquently by Tendulkar, who while accepting a bat signed by the 1971 team, was to point out how he was beholden to the heroes of the past because each era serves as a fountainhead for the succeeding one. With so much star value and perspective on offer, it seemed somewhat amiss that the celebration of 40 years of arguably India's best phase in cricket was organised by private initiative, rather than by the BCCI.

But we'll let that pass. The evening was evocative and made more memorable by Sobers' presence. Few had expected him to come to India for this - and he clearly didn't expect so many people to come for an event for this nature. "I've never spoken in front of so many people," he told the large, appreciative audience. Later he was to repeat what he has said so often in the past: "I'd never played in front of such large crowds as in India. That was a unique experience."

For those who had seen him here in his playing days, Sobers was a unique experience too, and Thursday's event sent me hurtling back almost half a century. One of the earliest Test matches I can recall is between India and West Indies at the Brabourne Stadium in 1966, and though Rohan Kanhai was my hero then, it was Sobers who left a lasting impression. Two half-centuries, the second a blistering one to finish the match in time for an afternoon at the racecourse (as he was to confess later), five wickets and three catches were terrific to watch. But what made a greater impact on an 11-year-old's mind was an act of sportsmanship of the sort seen rarely then.

Like Mandela in his sunset years, Sobers also remains forthright and sharp of memory. Yet he also appears benignly tolerant of mortals and is filled with compassion and humour, often self-deprecatory

Budhi Kunderan, India's wicketkeeper, was declared caught in the leg trap - when still in single figures, if I remember correctly - and had started his walk back to the dressing room when Sobers signalled to the umpire that he had not taken the catch cleanly. There was a collective gasp, followed by applause, from the packed stadium. Kunderan went on to make a belligerent 79, but the hero of the day was the West Indies captain.

Between 1966 and Thursday last, I met Sir Garry twice, both times in South Africa. In 1991 he was invited to Johannesburg (along with Gavaskar, Richie Benaud and a handful of journalists) by Dr Ali Bacher, who wanted to impress on the world that racial integration in cricket was underway. Nelson Mandela had recently been released from jail and was shortly to begin the ANC's campaign for political power in the country. Getting a cricketing legend like Sobers was a coup, and he was pretty much the toast of the touring party. I remember him from then as a man of ready wit, not reluctant to use his tongue like a whiplash if necessary to drive home a point, in matters of cricket or otherwise.

In 2003, during the World Cup, Sobers was again in South Africa. I bumped into him on a few occasions, and he hardly looked his ebullient self. The attention then was pretty much on the current stars, but that was not why he appeared a little grumpy. He was, I learnt, in some pain from wobbly knees. A more enduring memory of 2003 is of Bacher talking of Mandela and Sobers, his two heroes, in the same breath several times.

Perhaps this is subliminal, but somehow I saw a touch of Mandela in Sobers on Thursday. Tall and lissome as the venerated South African leader, Sobers has a similar similar feline grace in his gait, despite the unmistakable hobbling that decades-long arthritis can cause. There is a natural athleticism in both, which age cannot wither. Sobers' curly hair, like Mandela's, is still intact, though now almost white. Both have a charismatic presence.

But it is in demeanour that the resemblance becomes more pertinent. Like Mandela in his sunset years, Sobers also remains forthright and sharp of memory. Yet he also appears benignly tolerant of mortals and is filled with compassion and humour, often self-deprecatory, of the sort that can come from somebody who has not only traversed the rigour of living long but also understood the game of life with all its vicissitudes.

Much of this was evident during the felicitation of "Wadekar's Warriors". Sobers not only seemed to remember almost every minute of the 1971 series in minute detail, he also regaled the audience with sharply defined anecdotes, all laced with humour and generosity, about the Indian players. It was evident that Wadekar, Chandu Borde, Bapu Nadkarni, Bishan Bedi, Srinivas Venkataraghavan, Erapalli Prasanna, Farrokh Engineer, Salim Durani, Abbas Ali Baig, Syed Kirmani, Rusi Jeejeebhoy, all hero-worshipped him. But Sobers calibrated the tenor of the proceedings to shift the spotlight on to the Indians wherever possible.

It was in the insights that interspersed the banter and bonhomie of the evening that Sobers' mighty understanding of cricket came through clearly, and found an eager audience, not just in the hundreds of fans, but also Tendulkar, Dhoni and Zaheer. Sobers spoke delectably, and with authority, on the virtues of slow bowling, of how variations in flight to deceive batsmen are important, which was what, he said, made both Prasanna and Bedi, for example, great.

On batsmanship, he said a sound defence was crucial, for the attacking strokes become a natural extension of defence. On technique, as conventionally understood, he was sceptical; what works for a batsman is the best technique for him, he said. He was clear, however, that playing with the bat rather than the pad was crucial, not just for safeguarding your wicket but also for entertaining the spectators.

Sobers spoke of how his approach to batting - and, by extension, cricket - had been shaped by Sir Frank Worrell on the 1961 tour of Australia. "If it's a half-volley, I want it hit for four, not pushed defensively," Worrell told them on the eve of the series. Cammie Smith, Sobers recounted, hit his first ball, a half-volley, straight to the only fielder at cover and came back smiling into the dressing room - to no admonishment from his skipper.

Sobers also explained why he rarely stepped out to bowlers despite being an attacking batsman. "I never had to," he said. "I used my height to reach the length of the ball, or the width of the crease in going right back if necessary if the length was too short. As a kid, when I got stumped I would be punished. I decided then that the turf between the crease and the stumps belongs to me, I won't give it away."

That didn't stop Sobers from becoming the first batsman to hit six sixes in an over - off the hapless Malcolm Nash in 1968 - at least for one of which he stepped out to smite the ball over the fence. "I never played for records," said Sobers, "but after hitting five, I sure as hell wanted to hit the sixth ball for six." That sensational over gave Sobers a place in history. "But while the record was mine, Nash made all the money," he joked. "Nash told me that without him, the record would have been impossible."

Several clips played that evening - including his century in the Tied Test, his 254 against a rampaging Dennis Lillee in 1972, his six sixes, his bowling in three different speeds and styles, and his sharp catching - showcased his outstanding all-round talent.

While the debate about who has been the greatest batsman of all time gathers steam, discussion on who has been the most skilled cricketer of all time is misplaced. Has there been anyone like Sir Garfield Sobers?

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY waspsting on | March 10, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    @Neutralfan - I'm perfectly aware of Sobers history - thanks. If he was a GREAT spinner, people would talk about it the way they do about Chandra, Laker, Tayfield etc. There are accounts from various sources on his pace bowling quality, and it reads well, but almost none whatsoever on his spin bowling.Don't you think thats strange? can you imagine no one mentioning Lillee's pace bowling because its assumed he was great at it?? He didn't turn the ball much, in either style, and I IMAGINE that the wrist spin could be not the most accurate. Not turning the ball much suggests to me that he wasn't particularly penetrative. He preferred wrist spin to orthodox spin until his shoulder went on him. And yes, he was first selected as a finger spinner - but if his batting hadn't become what it did, theres no saying if he would simply disappeared from the scene (he was no Lance Gibbs by all acounts). was he like a giles or bevan? I'd like to hear accounts of his spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY Beazle on | March 9, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    What "debate" about who is the greatest bastman ever ? Obviously Don Bradman is in a world totally of his own-and I hate Australians !!!!! (I mean in a sporting sense)

    If you meant the debate about who is the greatest Indian batsman ever -OK -sunny or Sachin - although I personally think Sehwag is more dangerous for the opposition than both of them.

  • POSTED BY kalikesam on | March 9, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    Ayaz thanks for givig a truly wonderful article rather uncharacteristic from cricinfo who more often opt for guys who write with the colourof money instead of ink.Without any doubt Sobers is the best cricketer that the world has ever produced. Gone were the days when no fear was seen in the eyes of the batsman against genuine fast bowlers .

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 9, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    It seems when greatness is being considered there is strong bias towards batting. If one considers greateness on the basis how well they do with respect to their peers at the time Sidney Barnes should be considered as great as Bradman. Sidney Barnes was head and shoulders above his peers by about the same margin as Bradman was in batting. May be qualification of 200 wickets ignores him. 192 wickets and 200 wickets doesn't make much difference in confidence limit on statistical significance which is generally proportional to square root of sample size. In my opinion Sydney Barnes is up there with Bradman and Sobers.

  • POSTED BY Zsam on | March 9, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    I find it all a marketing gimmick by BCCI to start a debate about greatest cricketer and try to elevate Sachin over the top. The intent seems to generate greater interest through provocative statements by paid - directly/indirectly columnists.I mean how can you even compare a one-day knock with 20 over power play and use that as a launch pad to sporting deification. This knock was good no doubt, but was it harder than those knocks of the 90s and 80s that had lesser props like poweerplays for batsmen.It is appaling to stretch the comparison to Bradman, who also played for 20 years, without protective gear and established peerless records. Even the test by intimidation during Bodyline saw him produce a still respectable average of 56, that is where Tendulkar hovers at with all the protective paraphernalia. One has 12 double and 2 triple centuries, while the other has 3 or perhaps 4 with no triple, and yet the cricketing historians are blindly calling him THE GREATEST.

  • POSTED BY Aubmic on | March 9, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    Wow, a lot of people producing crazy stats in their arguments (like bringing up figures like total runs, or # of one day centuries, fairly meaningless stats in the context.) Here is a stat for you. Sobers has a one day average of 0, therefore I conclude that he is a worse batsman than Chris Martin, who has an average of 1.6

  • POSTED BY AyrtonS on | March 9, 2010, 0:34 GMT

    cricfan78, guess what, you are wrong again. I am a West Indian NOT an Austrailan.

  • POSTED BY deryckr on | March 9, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    I am a West Indian , Trinidadian to be exact and whenever i see Sir Garry i am in awe , the mans' aura, humility and greatness is manifested in his demeanor and i am always near to tears , so much in awe i am . Sir Garry, Sir Viv, Lara, Sachin , i am all the better for having lived to see these great players who were obviously born to do what they did , , Bedi , Quadir, Warne , Murali, Lillee , Thommo, Holding, Roberts , Marshall, Waquar, Wasim Ackram, Imran , Kapil, these are who have enriched my pleasure as a fan , so i will never debate who is the greatest because they were all Great in their own right it profits no one to place one over the other , the individuals played for the love of the game and we as Cricket supporters should just sit back , reminisce and look forward to the next great one to grace the greens . Thanks to all the greats , well done !

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | March 8, 2010, 23:59 GMT

    Jacques Kallis has been a great player of South Africa, but his failures against Australia (relative to his career averages) in both bat and ball count against him. What we can draw from that then is that he lacks a killer instinct against the main rival of his era. Tendulkar, Lara and players like Laxman have such an instinct, and perform well against the Australians.

  • POSTED BY AyrtonS on | March 8, 2010, 23:58 GMT

    At the end of the day, Brian Lara did not break Sobers runs record once or even twice, HE DID IT 3 TIMES !! SOBERS WHO?

  • POSTED BY waspsting on | March 10, 2010, 17:32 GMT

    @Neutralfan - I'm perfectly aware of Sobers history - thanks. If he was a GREAT spinner, people would talk about it the way they do about Chandra, Laker, Tayfield etc. There are accounts from various sources on his pace bowling quality, and it reads well, but almost none whatsoever on his spin bowling.Don't you think thats strange? can you imagine no one mentioning Lillee's pace bowling because its assumed he was great at it?? He didn't turn the ball much, in either style, and I IMAGINE that the wrist spin could be not the most accurate. Not turning the ball much suggests to me that he wasn't particularly penetrative. He preferred wrist spin to orthodox spin until his shoulder went on him. And yes, he was first selected as a finger spinner - but if his batting hadn't become what it did, theres no saying if he would simply disappeared from the scene (he was no Lance Gibbs by all acounts). was he like a giles or bevan? I'd like to hear accounts of his spin bowling.

  • POSTED BY Beazle on | March 9, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    What "debate" about who is the greatest bastman ever ? Obviously Don Bradman is in a world totally of his own-and I hate Australians !!!!! (I mean in a sporting sense)

    If you meant the debate about who is the greatest Indian batsman ever -OK -sunny or Sachin - although I personally think Sehwag is more dangerous for the opposition than both of them.

  • POSTED BY kalikesam on | March 9, 2010, 14:59 GMT

    Ayaz thanks for givig a truly wonderful article rather uncharacteristic from cricinfo who more often opt for guys who write with the colourof money instead of ink.Without any doubt Sobers is the best cricketer that the world has ever produced. Gone were the days when no fear was seen in the eyes of the batsman against genuine fast bowlers .

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 9, 2010, 14:18 GMT

    It seems when greatness is being considered there is strong bias towards batting. If one considers greateness on the basis how well they do with respect to their peers at the time Sidney Barnes should be considered as great as Bradman. Sidney Barnes was head and shoulders above his peers by about the same margin as Bradman was in batting. May be qualification of 200 wickets ignores him. 192 wickets and 200 wickets doesn't make much difference in confidence limit on statistical significance which is generally proportional to square root of sample size. In my opinion Sydney Barnes is up there with Bradman and Sobers.

  • POSTED BY Zsam on | March 9, 2010, 8:51 GMT

    I find it all a marketing gimmick by BCCI to start a debate about greatest cricketer and try to elevate Sachin over the top. The intent seems to generate greater interest through provocative statements by paid - directly/indirectly columnists.I mean how can you even compare a one-day knock with 20 over power play and use that as a launch pad to sporting deification. This knock was good no doubt, but was it harder than those knocks of the 90s and 80s that had lesser props like poweerplays for batsmen.It is appaling to stretch the comparison to Bradman, who also played for 20 years, without protective gear and established peerless records. Even the test by intimidation during Bodyline saw him produce a still respectable average of 56, that is where Tendulkar hovers at with all the protective paraphernalia. One has 12 double and 2 triple centuries, while the other has 3 or perhaps 4 with no triple, and yet the cricketing historians are blindly calling him THE GREATEST.

  • POSTED BY Aubmic on | March 9, 2010, 6:13 GMT

    Wow, a lot of people producing crazy stats in their arguments (like bringing up figures like total runs, or # of one day centuries, fairly meaningless stats in the context.) Here is a stat for you. Sobers has a one day average of 0, therefore I conclude that he is a worse batsman than Chris Martin, who has an average of 1.6

  • POSTED BY AyrtonS on | March 9, 2010, 0:34 GMT

    cricfan78, guess what, you are wrong again. I am a West Indian NOT an Austrailan.

  • POSTED BY deryckr on | March 9, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    I am a West Indian , Trinidadian to be exact and whenever i see Sir Garry i am in awe , the mans' aura, humility and greatness is manifested in his demeanor and i am always near to tears , so much in awe i am . Sir Garry, Sir Viv, Lara, Sachin , i am all the better for having lived to see these great players who were obviously born to do what they did , , Bedi , Quadir, Warne , Murali, Lillee , Thommo, Holding, Roberts , Marshall, Waquar, Wasim Ackram, Imran , Kapil, these are who have enriched my pleasure as a fan , so i will never debate who is the greatest because they were all Great in their own right it profits no one to place one over the other , the individuals played for the love of the game and we as Cricket supporters should just sit back , reminisce and look forward to the next great one to grace the greens . Thanks to all the greats , well done !

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | March 8, 2010, 23:59 GMT

    Jacques Kallis has been a great player of South Africa, but his failures against Australia (relative to his career averages) in both bat and ball count against him. What we can draw from that then is that he lacks a killer instinct against the main rival of his era. Tendulkar, Lara and players like Laxman have such an instinct, and perform well against the Australians.

  • POSTED BY AyrtonS on | March 8, 2010, 23:58 GMT

    At the end of the day, Brian Lara did not break Sobers runs record once or even twice, HE DID IT 3 TIMES !! SOBERS WHO?

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | March 8, 2010, 22:59 GMT

    Lol. One thing people like waspting don't know is that SOBERS WAS 1ST SELECTED AS A SPINNER...I'M PRETTY SURE (don't quote me on that though). He batted at #9 on debut! Check the scorecard of his debut. Maybe no-1 needed to talk much about his spin exploits because it was a given that he could bowl spin well lol. The problem when talking about past greats is you have to be willing to search the internet and stores for old footage and interviews as well as read COUNTLESS of articles to paint the picture. I admit it is very hard for me to judge and it is only when players are blatantly better than their peers that I do so with confidence, for there are still many clips and footage I am yet to find but every now and again I spend sometimes up to 1/2 a weekend till I find some.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | March 8, 2010, 22:18 GMT

    I agree totally with Waspsting in his point that bowling all-rounders do not get enough credit. Of those, Imran Khan stands ahead of his peers. Botham gets marked down for not having a great record against the West Indies, Hadlee and Kpail Dev get marked down for weaker batting records than peers but Shaun Pollock does stack up well, although not as good as Khan.

    The comparison between batting and bowling all-rounders is one topic that is very hard to judge. In fact, it is much easier to compare between generations than to answer the question: what deserves more merit? A great bowler who can bat very well (eg. Imran Khan), or a great batsmen who can bowl very well (Garfield Sobers). At least with the debate about generations, you have the benefit of statistics and reliable historical information on conditions, quality of opposition and facts on technique, technology, training methods etc. The debate about the all-rounder is subjective.

    And finally, what about Gilchrist?

  • POSTED BY AusRob on | March 8, 2010, 20:36 GMT

    I do not understand how there can even be a debate on who the greatest batsman of all time is - Bradman stands in another dimension compared to all others. As to who the greatest batsman of the last 50 years - that is another question and certainly open to debate, with too many good players to make a clear call.

  • POSTED BY waspsting on | March 8, 2010, 19:37 GMT

    Sobers gets TOO MUCH credit on allrounder reviews because he's of the rarer breed of top class batsman/handy bowler, rather than the other way around. Imran, botham, kapil, hadlee, procter etc. are all the other way around. Kallis is like Sobers - but as a batsmen, Sobers was streets ahead of his contemporaries. Kallis has numerous competitors on this score - lara, tendulkar, ponting etc. Sobers has the comparitive edge.Much has been said of Sobers' batting - one of the best ever. a fair bit has been said about his pace bowling - as one who never saw him, i know enough about it from reading. Its Sobers the spinner I'm most curious about. Rarely hear anything devoted to that particular topic from those who played with or against him or even fans of the time. It usually just gets accounted for in the overall wash of "he could bowl all three types of styles". Would be curious to hear someone give an account of it. Seems to me, his spin wasn't particularly good - it was there, thats all

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | March 8, 2010, 17:34 GMT

    Yes, Kallis is the greatest all-rounder of HIS ERA and without a doubt one of the greatest of all time but in terms of bowling variety (spin + pace...very difficult to master the 2) Sobers has the edge. Sobers it seemed SCORED FASTER than most of his peers and thus that without a doubt gives him a proper edge on Kallis. It's Sobers 1st, daylight 2nd then the Kallis', Imran Khans' and Bothams' can wrestle for who comes next lol.

  • POSTED BY vincing on | March 8, 2010, 14:57 GMT

    I am a Sachin fan (maniac). But two names just stand out sir Don Bradman and sir Gary Sobers. Now, both of them are equally important in any team. Let us rate (importance in comparison with the peers): 1) Bradman: 100 2) Sobers: 90

    Now, Worrel, Gavaskar, Tendulkar, Lara, Kallis, Jack Hobbs, Graeme Pollock, viv richards, Geoff boycott, Warne, Marshal, Holding, Imran Khan, Kapil, Botham, Hadlee, McGrath, Lillee, Akram etc. are all huddled up near 25. You can give 24.7 to Tendulkar and 24.5 to Viv Richards and say this is better and keep fighting. don't touch those two guys in your silly games. But, I would also like to keep SRT in a separate league lower than sobers and Bradman just because he played in a mad nation and gave his full. Others could just have broken down 100 times. But since it is a very subjective thing and more to do with the person and culture he has been brought up, leave that apart. And yes, kallis has good stats and undoubtedly great but do a subjective assessment.

  • POSTED BY RichardW on | March 8, 2010, 14:52 GMT

    Jacques Kallis is an unbelievable performer in all forms of the game.If he could not bowl he would have been one of the top 5 batsmen of all time and if he could not bat he would have been one of the top 5 fast bowlers of all time.As it is he is unquestionably the best all rounder of the last 20 years in an era where cricket has become more demanding and has changed dramatically.A great man and a truly great player.

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 8, 2010, 13:24 GMT

    With skills and aptitude for developing skills, and with ability to concentrate Bradman, no doubt, probably would have come out ahead of other batsmen in any era you put him. However, if there is team of 11 Bradmans against 11 Soberses what would happen? Soberses being better than average fielders and bowlers Bradmans' performance in batting will be lower than Bradman's average. On other hand Soberses would be facing certainly less challenging bowling, and likley less challenging fielding: their batting performace will be better than Sobers's average. If matches are five day test such hypothetical tests will end up in entertaining draws. Two cheers to mediocrity: they make results possible. Now if the match is timeless what would happen? Well I would say you add/subtract about 25 runs to Sobers/Bradman. Well that's just a guess; my guess, and I think Soberses will come out ahead. At fundamental level this is hypothetical, and it may be idle talk to compare players of different era.

  • POSTED BY marwaan on | March 8, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    it's a bit unfortunate that in discussions about the best cricketer ever one name is regularly omitted: Jacques Kallis. He and Bradman are members of an exclusive club of two...While he might not be the most exciting player to watch and has been accused; unfairly in my opinion, of being selfish, he has probably been responsible for winning more Test matches for South Africa than any other South African player over the last 10 years (Smith, Pollock and Ntini follow closely)...His batting stats match those of any of the modern greats (Tendulkar, Ponting, Lara). Toss in his wickets and catches (most of these in the slips, specialist position) and you have a once in a lifetime cricketer...

  • POSTED BY vinaykn on | March 8, 2010, 10:53 GMT

    The people who don't understand the body line conditions and easier conditions, normally take any name and say somebody is greater Bradman. Also they claim,so and so conditions are not there during Bradman time and and mr.x has these conditions, so mr.x is great. It is absolutely foolishness. If so and so conditions are not there, does not mean Bradman couldn't fare well. Bradman left everything which can prove he can simply excel in any condition. Basically these people knew about the weaknesses about their heroes and foolishly argue based on which were not at the time of Bradman.If we need to talk about GREATS, the Bradman is first GREAT. If comparison is correct, he can be compared only with GREATS and he remains GREATEST.

  • POSTED BY BillyCC on | March 8, 2010, 9:33 GMT

    Majr: there were no Test batsmen in any era to average over 63 and played over 20 tests (although I think Hussey did for a while and then plummeted), regardless of technological aides, quality of opposition, number of home tests, bowling bodyline etc. Bradman scored as astronomically as he did, because of his skill, no one even came close to it then and now.

  • POSTED BY STRAIGHT_TALK on | March 8, 2010, 8:56 GMT

    These are days of instant gratification and success, thanks to the monster TV , terribe T20 and all the 'experts' pitching in with their lofty comments on young cricketers who are still learning the game. It takes ability and strength to acknowledge a fellow talented cricketer and the debates of who is better etc. are meaningless. It is not for nothing that all cricketers are not spoken in the same vein and surely, Bradman, Sobers, Gavaskar, Richards, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Lillee, Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist have been more outstanding than others. Yes, Tendulkar will remain the most recalled cricketer, thanx to his records. We also need to notice that the past cricketers always were generous in their acknowledgement of their rivals and had words of encouragement for the youngsters, unlike the current crop of cricketers, who are too small and self-centred as also incapable of seeing the big picture.

  • POSTED BY Krishna_Sydney on | March 8, 2010, 8:38 GMT

    I had the good fortune to see that test in full at the Brabourne as a kid. Sobers' all round performance was excellent right thru the series. I remeber that blistering hitting on the final day at Bombay and also the bespectacled Lloyd's knocks of 78 and 82 ( he was making his debut!). Poor Nadkarni he really got hit in that test (four consecutive fours by Lloyd if I recall correctly) I think into retirement. Sobers sportsmanship in recalling Kunderan and the latters brilliant hooking of Griffith and Hall thereafter was a sight to watch!Sobers was without a doubt the finest allrounder and most multi-talented cricketer ever (the records may show better allrounder records but far more cricket was played after his days in the lifetime of a cricketer) - he was also an attacking captain.

  • POSTED BY CricFan78 on | March 8, 2010, 8:30 GMT

    You gotta love all these Aussie fans yapping about Bradman when this article has nothing to do with it. To the topic Sobers will always be class apart in cricketing skills and also his sportsmanship.

  • POSTED BY on | March 8, 2010, 7:51 GMT

    sheer cricket basking in the glory of past heroes...

  • POSTED BY Sugz on | March 8, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    @ AyrtonS. Sobers is considered the most skilled cricketer, because he could have been picked in the WI XI as a top order batsman, a legspinner, an offspinner or a medium-fast swing bowler. Bradman was picked solely as a batsman. He could not offer the team much more than a mountain of runs. Sobers was competent at all levels in all disciplins within the game.

  • POSTED BY mroak1 on | March 8, 2010, 7:10 GMT

    Sir Garfield Sobers is without doubt the greatest cricketer of all time.With his batting,bowling and fielding.His 365 not out was his frist test century,and that was in his 30th test match.

  • POSTED BY rustin on | March 8, 2010, 6:30 GMT

    @AyrtonS : Bradman himself said that there were many batsman more skilled than him but lacked the concentration necessary to score consistently. Plus you have just considered batting. What about bowling and fielding. In both of them Sobers was simply too good. Nowwhere does the author call Sobers the best batsman of all time etc but he is just pointing out the fact that he was incredibly good at all aspects of cricket and in that sense he is the most skilled cricketer of all time.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | March 8, 2010, 4:59 GMT

    Bradman may have had very high skills like Sachin Tendulkar today or Garry Sobers of another era. But since the game itself had not evolved so much, he was able to score as astronomically as he did.This point will come home better when one considers that while bowling round the stumps at the batsmen's ribcage is common place now even at tailenders, there was a hue and cry when Larwood and Voce did it to Bradman. Jardine was made out to be a Frankenstein and two nations nearly went to war. People talk about uncovered wickets when they speak about Bradman and his contemporaries, to emphasise how great they were. All I wish to say is that there was a greater level of fairplay then in the field of cricket, as the game was so metaphorical about gentlemanly behaviour, and one could rest assured that there would be no midnight pick and showel operation carried out to change the condition of the pitch to derive an unfair advantage.Yes Bradman was great no doubt about that. 99 or 50 odd ?

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | March 8, 2010, 4:44 GMT

    I have not had the good fortune to watch Bradman play because I was born just three years before his retirement. As such I have to rely upon many aspects including statistics, to answer the query raised by 'AyrtonS'. Sir Donald Bradman was indeed an all time great on the basis of his statistical achievements.He lasted for 20 years at the international level. He played 52 Tests and has an average of 99 which would have been 100 if he had not been bowled by Eric Hollies for a duck in his last test innings by a googly. The point to be seen is that out of the 52 Tests he had played 37 were against England and 33 were played in Australia itself. I am mentioning this because critics seem to berate innings played on home soil for whatever reason.None of the bowlers that Bradman faced barring Larwood is spoken of as being in the league of Marshall, Magrath or Warne. Besides there were no technological aides like replays etc which helps bowlers to sort a batsman out. like we have today.

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | March 8, 2010, 4:16 GMT

    @AyrtonS...because he bowled pace, spin and also fielded well...obviously. I don't recall any1 saying he was a better bat than Bradman? Where did u see that? :s

  • POSTED BY AyrtonS on | March 8, 2010, 3:49 GMT

    If Sobers was the most skilled then explain to me why Sir Donald Bradman's average is 99 and sobers is somewhere is the 50's or 60's.

  • POSTED BY kolsa on | March 8, 2010, 0:39 GMT

    That Game at the Brabourne stadium in 1966. I was eight years old. When all of India was waiting for the first test to begin. At eleven o'clock India had lost 3 wickets for 13 runs. Patuadi 44 and Chandhu Borde who scored a 121. India all out for 296. Clive LLoyd made his debut in that test. West Indies replied with 429. I remember Kunderan's 79 in the second innings of that test too. He is married to an Irish Lady and 30 odd years later when I bumped into him and reminded him about that hurricane innings. He insisted on me telling his wife about it and I found that quite amusing. She obviously did not believe him. Yes that story is true about Lloyd and Sobers finishing of the test early because they wanted to go to the races. How can I forget. It was all over the Indian Newspapers. They got to 196 with six wickets still in hand LLoyd and Sobers were still there at the end. Kunderan was later Knocked out of the series by a Lester King and was replaced by Engineer for the 3rd test.

  • POSTED BY Rajesh. on | March 7, 2010, 22:52 GMT

    Never compare eras.... It's the most futile and useless exercise. The era to which one belongs always seems the best for that person because that's what get to see the most. Just appreciate and applaud great players of every generation....

  • POSTED BY Nibsy on | March 7, 2010, 22:20 GMT

    I am an Indian fan but I am fan of cricket first. Sobers was a fantastic player. I just hope that the West Indies become a competitive force once again. They have Roach. They need another 2 tall fast bowlers. They are potentially, the only team who can sock it to the Aussies home and away. Personal point of view, I would have Lara, Tendulkar and SR Waugh as my 3,4,5. The all rounder slot has to go to Imran. I have seen this players play in their careers. If you subsituted Sobers for anyone of those, the batting line up would not be weakened.

  • POSTED BY diggyb on | March 7, 2010, 21:03 GMT

    i met Sir Garry ( as he is called in Barbados) couple times, got to shake his hands about 4 times but there was one time we were playing at his Annual Cricket tournament in Barbados and he came to our game ( i was coach of my team at the time) and he was sitting on the seat just below me. the waitress at the club house noticing his presence ,immediately wanted to offer him a drink , so what did she do? touched me and asked me to get sir Garry's attention for her cause his eyes was stuck on the game, so i touched him on his shoulder and pointed to the lady ( i didnt even say a word, too nervous, i must have been 19 then). anyhow she asked if he would like a drink and he said yes a 'Plus' ( famous drink in Barbados),she went for the 'plus' and passed it to me so i can give to him...... HOW KOOL WAS THAT??? BEST DAY OF THE DECADE!! some of you might not believe but this really did happen!!!

  • POSTED BY gudolerhum on | March 7, 2010, 18:11 GMT

    Sir Garfield Sobers is a national hero of his native country Barbados, which has produced other legends in its time, the three W's, Wes Hall and many others. He has and continues to grace his status with dignity and humility which makes this nation so proud of him. It is unfortunate that the modern generation have not been provided the opportunity to see some of his exploits through the medium of the DVD. He excelled in every facet of the game yet remains just comfortable in his own position. I am not surprised that he attended that function in India, it is typical of what he will do to use his talents for the benefit of others. Long may he live and may we be able to share in the memory of his achievements. I have been fortunate to see him perform on several occasions and those times remain with me to this day.

  • POSTED BY knowledge_eater on | March 7, 2010, 16:08 GMT

    By the way, Imagine me giving standing ovation, I don't know how to meet all greats all around the world that inspired me, may be I won't in my life time, but at least I got to computer-Internet world, which gives me chance to have few words for them. So, I can give "digital {Standing Ovation & Clapping}" Peace.

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 7, 2010, 16:07 GMT

    Some one, who said that he didn't read the whole article, complained that Tendulkar is mentioned six time. Well Sobers's name is mentioned more than a dozen times. With Garry's picture, and if picture is worth 1000 words, its about Garry, and idea is not to compare him with Bradman per se as batsman. The event was to celebrate Indian victory over WI, and the impact of that on Indian cricket, and Tendulkar may be direct consequence of that triumph. Some what surprising is that Sobers aggreed to attend! Did they also ask England captain to celebrate victory over England in immidiate aftermath? It would be intesting to know the response from England captain if he was indeed invited.

  • POSTED BY cricsom5667 on | March 7, 2010, 15:56 GMT

    I am an Indian and am feeling a bit nauseated by over the top chest thumping by my countrymen as regards Sachin. Although I am a great fan of Sachin, the game of cricket is supposed to be a gentleman's i.e above racism, parochialism and in your face nationalism. Acknowledge and admire on field greatness irrespective of the flag it bears ! IMHO - Sobers without doubt is the greatest cricketer of all time as Ayaz suggests - Bradman is the greatest pre-war era batsman, Viv, Barry Richards, Graeme Pollock, Gavaskar are pre-helmet (can't think of a better term) era greats, Sachin/Lara/Ponting are post helmet era greats. Each era had its advantages & disadvantages - Bradman/Sobers/Richards/Gavaskar era's LBW rules were easier than current as was batting harder gainst pace bowlers without adequate PPE (personal protective equipment) than the current. Bats were not so light and having lesser tonking power but body wear and tear was lesser as was the competition and efforts to make a living.

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 7, 2010, 15:55 GMT

    It is unfortunate that there are not as many videos of Garry Sobers, and rare still of Bradman. But those videos without all the paraphenalia of modern batsmen show gacefulness of human body, and is is like watching gymnastics. The video of Bradman hitting the golf ball with a stump repeatedly is exquisite, and shows power of concentratiion. Though I said previously that Bradman is arguably best bestmen its just that there are people who will argue about that. I have no doubt that he is head and shoulder above others as a batsman. With an aptitude for concentration and reflexes he had developed he would have adjusted to any era to be on the top of the table as a batsman, though camparing atheletes so far apart in time is idle talk.

  • POSTED BY vpyati on | March 7, 2010, 15:32 GMT

    Hey you all,those who are writing comments about greatest batsman,bradman,sachin etal. Which article have you read? This article is not about the greatest batsman. Neither has the author compared any players. He is just writing about the evening with Sir Garry Sobers. Finally, he makes an innocuous and totally non-controversial statement that Sobers is the most skilled cricketer of all time. Guys, the keyword here is the 'MOST SKILLED' not the 'GREATEST'.

  • POSTED BY knowledge_eater on | March 7, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    To me personally, it was very great picture explaining, "Sir Sobers: hey Son, Can you get 4 runs for me, I got this Knee problem" Sachin: Sure, Sir, thats what I am here for continue what you started" Thats one of the greatest picture to me personally. You know why I think that personally. Because, I was born and taught with this mentality. It was great to hear about. "League of 1971" Thank You. It was an honor for India, that Sir Sobers came to India.

  • POSTED BY popcorn on | March 7, 2010, 14:33 GMT

    Sunil Gavaskar's from this event make me wonder - is it his ego or his misplaced priorities? And not for the first time.

  • POSTED BY vinaykn on | March 7, 2010, 14:21 GMT

    In my personal opinion,I feel someone is GREAT if has something special. Like ability to perform in crunch, like Bradman in Bodyline,not like choking in crunch matches,and very special record breaking performances within a match like Sobers 365*which is highest score at that time,not the stupid records based on accumalated stats, and Top 5 best performances in Test match career and ability to hold wicket more than 500 min many times,shoulbe high ranked and competetive like what Gavaska is havingr,those innings are not like against weaker teams.At least one or two are three of these features,I feel something special within them Richards,Lara,Warne, Sehwag etc are having atleast one or two features. About accumulated, I am not much interested.Sobers have 26, Gavaskar 34and others may more, it does not mean sobers and gavaskar or richards couldnt have get that much if they played that much volume. Sometimes volume is not really cricketing factor, especially countries like in India

  • POSTED BY Punter_28 on | March 7, 2010, 14:17 GMT

    While Sir.Don is the greatest ever batsman of all time, Sir Gary is the greatest cricketer ever. As Sunny once pointed out that only thing which he had not donen a cricket field was wicket keeping which also he would have done if he had donned the gloves!!! Ian Chappel rates him as the finest ever post war batsman. Though Sir ITB is the second best allrounder of all time he is a distant second to Sir Gary. He would have plundered even in the modern era given his rapid fire scoring in those days and would have been an ideal one day and T20 player.

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | March 7, 2010, 14:07 GMT

    @NKJcric. Ok your entitled to your opinion, no grudges. I don't want to stray from Sobers here but I'm tired of persons accusing some that they have never seen old players play. I've actually seen rare footage of W.C. Grace as well. For all those complaining of never seeing Bradman play. I challenge you as true cricket fans. THERE IS FOOTAGE OF BRADMAN GOING AROUND. If your a true cric fan and not just a team fan, you would search for it, watch it and admire it. There is footage of him knocking a golf ball with a stump from a distance of about 5 feet. I can say his technique was wierd when it came to driving. I actually think Michael Clarke and Dravid have maybe the closest thing to it in that the elbow isn't so high and the follow-through is almost cross-batted. The pace of the bowlers did not look so much slower either (like some were suggesting) especially in the body-line footage. I saw guys getting knocked out and the reaction time for ducking was fairly short.

  • POSTED BY CanTHeeRava on | March 7, 2010, 14:02 GMT

    I agree with Sir Garfield's view on open wickets and protective gear in cricket. The runs made by Sunny Gavaskar out weigh Tendulkar's records simply because the pitches Sunny played on, were 'naked'.

    However, a batsman may wear a protective helmet, arm guard and all other things available to him to face a fast bowler but can still be hit on the head by a ball. Tendulkar may have played on relatively better pitches but he has rarely taken body blows. The way he ducks/weaves under a short ball is straight out of a coaching manual. I am sure if Tendulkar were there, he would have matched Sunny "stroke to stroke" and "leave to leave" on his 1971 tour to Windies (without a helmet).

    I am slightly worried that the present day batsmen rarely see a short ball well. Wearing a helmet is sensible and getting hit by a ball is not!!

    I felt very happy reading this article. Thank you Ayaz for writing a beautiful account of a rare event.

  • POSTED BY Venkatb on | March 7, 2010, 13:22 GMT

    I have a 2 hour video exclusively on Bradman's batting and have followed Sobers since the mid-60s - I also had the opportunity to bump into the latter on Jan 1, 1967 in Calcutta when Sobers (and all the Windies players) were fleeing the chaos of a burning Eden Gardens. Sobers was running through the car park and approached my father for a ride to the Great Eastern Hotel - regrettably my father could not as we were anxiously waiting for my brotherto join us. What was notable was Conrad Hunte with the official WICB flag, a gesture beyond partiotism. Back to the discussion, Bradman and Sobers led from the front and clearly dominated their eras and ensured their teams were at the top as well. Unfortunately, that cannot be said of Tendulkar. As Sobers put it, differences in eras are helmet vs. no helmet, bouncer rules, no ball rules, uncovered wickets - today, he would average 75+ vs 57.78 (better than Tendulkar), and there were fewer bunnies in Test cricket then!

  • POSTED BY henchart on | March 7, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    It is high time people like Ayaz Memon moved on.Bradman,Sobers,Gavaskar,Richards,Tendulkar,Ponting,Kallis .......the list will go on.Each era is different from the other.Comparisons are a waste of time even if one tries to cloak it discussion on skilled cricketer of all times blah blah blah.Indians cant ever stop celebrating over couple of series won in 1971 and a World cup won in 1983.If Aussies start celebrating then they have to keep doing that only considering the frequency of their wins! Patting ones own back is a vice which breeds complacency.

  • POSTED BY factoryard on | March 7, 2010, 13:03 GMT

    I agree with you guys for most part but is a little confused as to who the greatest cricketer, not batsman, is. If it's records or just flare, we are judging these great cricketers. For the record I would put Jaques Kallis above any other cricketer who has played the game. When someone look at Kallis records, one will be tempted to say it is 2 persons right there. We all know Sobers is very good, but howcome no one ever mention Mr. Kallis.

  • POSTED BY S.N.Singh on | March 7, 2010, 13:02 GMT

    Based on what Sir Garfield Sobers said of Gavaskar I agreed with him that Gavaskar agreed played agaiinst "some fearsome bolers." But I think in my opinion Sir Gary should look back and recognized that his team mate " Rohan Kanhai was the most " feared" batsman in the world at that time. Even Gary was afraid to bowl against him. At that time the best bowler in the world was out there and Rohan scored hundreds against all, Sobers, Hall ( Read Hall's Pace on Fire") Griffith, Holding, Gilchrits, Ramadhin, Valatine, Guptie, Prasana,Bidi, Venkataravagan, Chandrashaker,Bennud, Lindwall, Miller, Lillee, Truman, Statham lock, Laker, you name them, the greates of all bowlers, They were all afraid of Rohan Kanhai. When they get him out they felth they have the team out. This why I think that Rohan was and is the best of all times. S.N.Singh

  • POSTED BY crram on | March 7, 2010, 12:42 GMT

    Yes Mr Sobers is one of all time greats. The only player I can see close to him is Ian Botham. As Gary said Sunny Gavaskar is the best player in technique and conditions.

    My all time XI in tests

    Sunil Gavaskar Gilchrist Bradman Viv Richards W.Hammond Sobers Botham Warne or Benaud Lillee Trueman Murali or Chandrasekhar

  • POSTED BY Drew2 on | March 7, 2010, 12:32 GMT

    Bradman was the greatest cricketer of all time. His batting was so far ahead of anyone else, and that was enough to get him past the second greatest cricketer of all time, Sir Garfield Sobers. Put any batsman today back in Bradman's era, on unprotected wickets and without all the protective gear (let alone helmets). Take away the restrictions of short pitch bowling and they would be just like Bradman's nearest rival back then........mortals.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2010, 11:14 GMT

    i havent got a chance to see much of sir gary sobers, but from what i have read about him, he is to cricket as pele is to football and dhyan chand is to hockey. cricket has seen many allrounders the likes of kapil, imran, botham, flintoff, kallis but no one can match sir gary sobers. there would never ever be another gary sobers. imagine sobers and bradman in ipl in different teams!!!!

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    @Teece if you read the whole article you would have realised that Ayaz Memon was not saying that sobers was the best batsman ever but rather the most skilled cricketer. I think this is a case of opening your mouth without all of the facts.

  • POSTED BY ElectronSmoke on | March 7, 2010, 11:10 GMT

    Every era has its batting greats - and most people who have grown up idolizing them, or seen them play side with their choices. Same with bowling and fielding - there have been changes in standards but the mighty always rise. But Sir Garry is indeed the greatest all-round cricketer to grace the game. His batting average, scored off some of the best bowlers ever would warrant a place in most Caribbean All-time XI. (Bradman himself rated him and Barry Richards two of the best left handed batsman). His bowling was as astute and varied as it was effective. Orthodox, Wrist-Spin, Fast medium - he'd do it all. Add to it his tigerish close-in fielding, and brilliance outside the ring. Above all, he played the sport to enjoy , hard but fair - never one to pass up a chance to have a few drinks, but not one who would turn up drunk the next morning. An alpha male among even the elite cricketers :)

  • POSTED BY NKJcric on | March 7, 2010, 10:55 GMT

    To _NEUTRAL_Fan, I agree that Sir Garfield Sobers, is the most complete and most all-round circketer to flourish on the test stage. However (not wanting to be a pain here) along with Sobers there is one other cricketer that can be mentioned i the same breath as Bradman.He was called W.G Grace. In fact he was cricket's first real superstar and legendary allrounder.

  • POSTED BY cricket-vid on | March 7, 2010, 10:24 GMT

    Yes the man is a legend - and a humble one at that. I still find it anoying that whilst other far less worth while cricketeers have had DVD's / video about them - there still isn't one of the Great Garry Sobers talking about his expliots. So if someone of media influence is reading this - I'm sure it would sell very well.

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | March 7, 2010, 8:52 GMT

    Another Indian-centric piece of writing by Ayaz Memon. The article is supposed to be about Sobers, yet there is a picture of Tendulkar and his name is mentioned 6 times. Highly disappointing. I was hoping for a new take on Sobers' legendary bowling variations and destructive batting.

  • POSTED BY HLANGL on | March 7, 2010, 8:36 GMT

    I never really think there's any doubt whatsoever regarding the greatest ever batsman; it has to be Bradman without any doubt at all no matter how unconventional he had been in his stroke play, I meant in his technique. There may have been another set of seriously gifted players including even his peer Stan McCabe to some present day players, but none of them was equipped with the same determination & the ability to concentrate over longer periods of time on a quite so consistent basis as Bradman had been. I believe in a world which had seen Walter Hammond, George Headley, Everton Weeks, Garfield Sobers, Greham Pollock, Viv Richards, Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar & Ricky Ponting, there's some serious contention for the second best batsman. As far as the bowlers are considered, yes, the same case, no any ultimate pick, rather a set of equally qualified names would appear on the list.

  • POSTED BY Teece on | March 7, 2010, 8:06 GMT

    From many accounts, Bradman was a cantankerous old thing who was hard to like. Doesn't matter a wit in a discussion of his batting ability, mind you. The ball didn't ask if he was charismatic before thumping into the fence. Just read a really good Aakash Chopra piece on Cricinfo about the mechanics of batting against swing. Unfortunately, parts of the above article exemplify the kind of flabby sentiment that sometimes gets a run, that bleeds nostalgia into what actually happened on the field. The thinking behind this hyperbole seems to be that it's not enough for Gary Sobers to be a great player and wonderful man. He has to be the BEST. Come on. Is he any less interesting for what he actually is? Can we handle a little nuance? That's all.

  • POSTED BY the_blue_android on | March 7, 2010, 8:00 GMT

    I just don't get this obsession with Bradman. There are scores of people who have seen Gavaskar, Sobers and other great players live. How many people alive today have seen Bradman play? how can they proclaim Bradman is the greatest? Can we get over Bradman please? I'm sure he is great, but just tired of hearing it from people who have never seen him play. Eight year olds to Sixty year olds, everyone from Australia thinks Bradman is the greatest. They know as much as we know..stats from Cricinfo and his test batting average.

  • POSTED BY on | March 7, 2010, 7:34 GMT

    Greatest Cricketers Sobers Sachin Shane Warne Bradman Viv Richards Wasim Akram

  • POSTED BY cook on | March 7, 2010, 5:51 GMT

    Bradman best, daylight 2nd

  • POSTED BY amit1807kuwait on | March 7, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    Poor poor poor. Ayaz has done better, much better before. He has lost it!

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | March 7, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    It is ridiculous that we are debating the skills of the greatest cricketer that ever lived with the greatest batsman that there was. And yet, I cannot fail to mention Gary Sobers scoring 254 n.o.for the World eleven in 71 at Melbourne. Sir Donald was present when Sobers --- actually past his prime by then--- was busy giving a masterclass to none other than Dennis Lillee, Massie the 16 wicket debut man and Jenner, who coached Shane Warne. Bradman was moved into calling up his wife I think it was, and telling her to watch the greatest batting he had ever seen.It took Sobers 2 Tests to gauge the Australian bowling and then he showed the world the difference between Sobers and the Rest of the World.No matter what the Australians may say as true nationalists, there can never be another Sobers. He was simply a special creation of nature for posterity.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | March 7, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    There is simply no doubt that Gary Sobers is the greatest cricketer the world will ever get to see.Though his first hundered came only in his 15th Test, it was the then world record of 365 n.o.He could have played for West Indies with distinction as an out and out fast bowler or a spinner or just as a batsman. And probably been an all time great in any of these disciplines.His greatness it was that caused him to give us all a view of the full range of his talent.And what is more is that Sir Garfield as he would later be, excelled in all the countries he played in and against any opposition.. A measure of this observation can be had in the fact that Don Bradman played in all 52 Tests.Out of these he played 33 in Australia and 37 were against England. Sobers played against a variety of great bowlers, not just awe struck Englishmen. He played without any protective gear much like his countryman, Viv Richards.I never can forget the sight I had of this legend at the Chepauk in 1967.

  • POSTED BY nikhildevdesai on | March 7, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    When are people going to stop comparing Tendulkar with past and current players. He has close to 50 centuries in both forms of the game, has broken almost all records and people Sobers is saying Gavaskar is better. WHAT? Gavaskar has one century in ODI and that too came late in his career. You cannot compare Sachin with anyone, period. Not Ponting, not Gavaskar, not Sobers, not Bradman, no one.

  • POSTED BY RoshanF on | March 7, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    I do hope that the Indian media and Indians in general do get over this rather irritating non-valid debate on who the greatest batsman of all time is. They should have realized it certainly aint Tendulkar. How can it be when he is not even 10 runs an innings better than his more successful contemporaries such as Ponting and Kallis leave alone the now retired Lara. Then look at the "Emperor" who retired in 1948. In his time there was Hammond, Hutton, Headley and Sutcliffe and just before him there were Hobbs and Trumper and yet he averaged nearly 40 runs more than his nearest 'all time great' challenger. There is no way anybody up to who can even be put anywhere near Sir Donald Bradman. Sir Viv Richards and Brian Lara are next and then comes Tendulkar and Gavaskar. Remeber Lara faced the likes of McGrath in much more pace friendly pitches in the West Indies than Tendulkar did in placid India. As for Viv, his era was far more difficult for run getting than the last two decades.

  • POSTED BY The_Maxophone on | March 7, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    Since when has there been a debate over the greatest batsman? Tendulker or Gavasker - Umm No.. The Answer is Bradman, never has been a debate, never will be. Probably a good article, but with such an inaccuracy in the headline, I'm not inclined to read it.

  • POSTED BY Teece on | March 7, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    Stopped reading after I read the deck. There isn't a debate about the game's greatest batsman. That's pure revisionism. It's lazy to make claims like that without evening mentioning the Bradman in the room. How many sets of eyes did this get past?

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 7, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Well. If I have chance to pick a player in draft I will pick Sobers ahead of Bradman. Bradman is arguably the best batsmen, but Sobers without any arguments is the best cricketer. Sobers by agreeing to facilitate this gathering exemplifies humilty as well as how to be magnanimous in defeat. None above Sobers in sportsmanship, humilty as well as craftsmanship. I admired Sobers all along, and today that admiration only increased.

  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | March 7, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    Yup greatest cricketer of all time. Batting was better than his peers, had wider bowling variety than his peers and was just as good a fielder as his peers. What I feel from watching old clips of him and following his records was that he could have actually done even more but chose not to as the W.I. got stronger and didn't rely on him as much. Bradman's batting feats were greater and thus he was rightly named #1 Wisden Cricketer of the Century but Sobers is just as great and is the only other cricketer in my opinion worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Bradman. What is just as incredible is his story telling when interviewed and the gleam and sparkle in his eye. His willingness to still contribute to the game is incredible and it is a pity that players today are paid so much more than he, when he played mainly just because he could. I suspect that he has been a great role model to the many good natured cricketers like Jaysuria, Sachin and even Brett Lee.

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  • POSTED BY _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on | March 7, 2010, 3:44 GMT

    Yup greatest cricketer of all time. Batting was better than his peers, had wider bowling variety than his peers and was just as good a fielder as his peers. What I feel from watching old clips of him and following his records was that he could have actually done even more but chose not to as the W.I. got stronger and didn't rely on him as much. Bradman's batting feats were greater and thus he was rightly named #1 Wisden Cricketer of the Century but Sobers is just as great and is the only other cricketer in my opinion worthy of being mentioned in the same breath as Bradman. What is just as incredible is his story telling when interviewed and the gleam and sparkle in his eye. His willingness to still contribute to the game is incredible and it is a pity that players today are paid so much more than he, when he played mainly just because he could. I suspect that he has been a great role model to the many good natured cricketers like Jaysuria, Sachin and even Brett Lee.

  • POSTED BY IMObserver on | March 7, 2010, 3:53 GMT

    Well. If I have chance to pick a player in draft I will pick Sobers ahead of Bradman. Bradman is arguably the best batsmen, but Sobers without any arguments is the best cricketer. Sobers by agreeing to facilitate this gathering exemplifies humilty as well as how to be magnanimous in defeat. None above Sobers in sportsmanship, humilty as well as craftsmanship. I admired Sobers all along, and today that admiration only increased.

  • POSTED BY Teece on | March 7, 2010, 4:12 GMT

    Stopped reading after I read the deck. There isn't a debate about the game's greatest batsman. That's pure revisionism. It's lazy to make claims like that without evening mentioning the Bradman in the room. How many sets of eyes did this get past?

  • POSTED BY The_Maxophone on | March 7, 2010, 4:19 GMT

    Since when has there been a debate over the greatest batsman? Tendulker or Gavasker - Umm No.. The Answer is Bradman, never has been a debate, never will be. Probably a good article, but with such an inaccuracy in the headline, I'm not inclined to read it.

  • POSTED BY RoshanF on | March 7, 2010, 4:25 GMT

    I do hope that the Indian media and Indians in general do get over this rather irritating non-valid debate on who the greatest batsman of all time is. They should have realized it certainly aint Tendulkar. How can it be when he is not even 10 runs an innings better than his more successful contemporaries such as Ponting and Kallis leave alone the now retired Lara. Then look at the "Emperor" who retired in 1948. In his time there was Hammond, Hutton, Headley and Sutcliffe and just before him there were Hobbs and Trumper and yet he averaged nearly 40 runs more than his nearest 'all time great' challenger. There is no way anybody up to who can even be put anywhere near Sir Donald Bradman. Sir Viv Richards and Brian Lara are next and then comes Tendulkar and Gavaskar. Remeber Lara faced the likes of McGrath in much more pace friendly pitches in the West Indies than Tendulkar did in placid India. As for Viv, his era was far more difficult for run getting than the last two decades.

  • POSTED BY nikhildevdesai on | March 7, 2010, 4:33 GMT

    When are people going to stop comparing Tendulkar with past and current players. He has close to 50 centuries in both forms of the game, has broken almost all records and people Sobers is saying Gavaskar is better. WHAT? Gavaskar has one century in ODI and that too came late in his career. You cannot compare Sachin with anyone, period. Not Ponting, not Gavaskar, not Sobers, not Bradman, no one.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | March 7, 2010, 5:13 GMT

    There is simply no doubt that Gary Sobers is the greatest cricketer the world will ever get to see.Though his first hundered came only in his 15th Test, it was the then world record of 365 n.o.He could have played for West Indies with distinction as an out and out fast bowler or a spinner or just as a batsman. And probably been an all time great in any of these disciplines.His greatness it was that caused him to give us all a view of the full range of his talent.And what is more is that Sir Garfield as he would later be, excelled in all the countries he played in and against any opposition.. A measure of this observation can be had in the fact that Don Bradman played in all 52 Tests.Out of these he played 33 in Australia and 37 were against England. Sobers played against a variety of great bowlers, not just awe struck Englishmen. He played without any protective gear much like his countryman, Viv Richards.I never can forget the sight I had of this legend at the Chepauk in 1967.

  • POSTED BY Percy_Fender on | March 7, 2010, 5:43 GMT

    It is ridiculous that we are debating the skills of the greatest cricketer that ever lived with the greatest batsman that there was. And yet, I cannot fail to mention Gary Sobers scoring 254 n.o.for the World eleven in 71 at Melbourne. Sir Donald was present when Sobers --- actually past his prime by then--- was busy giving a masterclass to none other than Dennis Lillee, Massie the 16 wicket debut man and Jenner, who coached Shane Warne. Bradman was moved into calling up his wife I think it was, and telling her to watch the greatest batting he had ever seen.It took Sobers 2 Tests to gauge the Australian bowling and then he showed the world the difference between Sobers and the Rest of the World.No matter what the Australians may say as true nationalists, there can never be another Sobers. He was simply a special creation of nature for posterity.

  • POSTED BY amit1807kuwait on | March 7, 2010, 5:45 GMT

    Poor poor poor. Ayaz has done better, much better before. He has lost it!

  • POSTED BY cook on | March 7, 2010, 5:51 GMT

    Bradman best, daylight 2nd