England v India, World Twenty20, Durban, 2007 May 16, 2010

The thirty-sixer

Hugh Chevallier
For those who didn't get to see Sobers' six sixes, Yuvraj provided an encore in Durban

My 15-year-old brother would have told me when it happened, but in 1968 I was only five - and Swansea was a long way from Kent. So I have no actual recall of the great Garry Sobers despatching poor Malcolm Nash for six sixes in an over.

Yet for me, my mates and much of the cricket-obsessed world I was about to inhabit, those six shots became the embodiment of sporting genius. What must it have felt like to be there? To see that last six floating out of the St Helen's ground?

Almost 40 years later and on a balmy South African evening I am in Durban for the first-ever Twenty20 World Cup. But I am also heading for Swansea, because history is about to repeat itself. Another left-hander gifted with a sublime touch is toying with a seamer, lofting him into streets that lead down to the sea. And this time I am there.

This is Yuvraj Singh. To live on in the tournament India, batting first, must beat England, and they're not doing badly. Yuvi comes to the crease at 155 for 3, just 20 balls left in the innings. But 20 is plenty. After six balls he is on 14, whereupon Freddie Flintoff chucks a few words at him.

It is the spur Yuvraj needs, though it is the 21-year-old Stuart Broad who suffers the consequences. The first six is all power and timing, pummelled over midwicket with the pace (if not the pedigree) of a thoroughbred charging into the South African night. The next is an exquisite, wristy pick-up, and the third stroked to long-off.

Thoughts turn to Swansea, though Yuvraj later said the idea of six sixes took hold only once the fourth, a full-toss, was flailed beyond point. The fifth, almost a mishit, towers over square leg.

Broad, his youth and innocence making the slaughter all the more terrible, has switched from over to round the wicket and back, but his role in the drama is of perpetual victim, and all he does is doomed to utter futility. The wait is endless, but eventually the ball describes an elegant arc from Yuvraj's bat and into the stands.

Broad slinks off into the dark - and I ring my brother.

Hugh Chevallier is a deputy editor of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack. This article was first published in the Wisden Cricketer

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