Stats analysis: Garry Sobers

An allrounder like no other

As a batsman alone Garry Sobers was among the very best; to add to that, he had talent to spare to take 235 Test wickets

S Rajesh

December 13, 2010

Comments: 36 | Text size: A | A

Garry Sobers bats for the Rest of the World side against England
Garry Sobers: the only allrounder to score 300-plus runs and take 20 or more wickets in a Test series three times © PA Photos
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Players/Officials: Sir Garry Sobers
Teams: West Indies

First there is Sir Garry Sobers, and then there are all the other great allrounders in Test cricket. Sir Don Bradman unquestionably qualifies as the best batsman ever seen in Tests, but several pundits are willing to bet that in terms of all-round match-winning ability, none has surpassed - and perhaps no one ever will - the sublime Sobers.

Bradman himself called Sobers the "five-in-one cricketer", and with good reason: apart from being an outstanding batsman and fielder, Sobers the bowler was so versatile that he could bowl three different styles - left-arm seam and swing, slow left-arm orthodox, and left-arm wrist spin. Sobers' skills with the ball allowed West Indies to often play an extra batsman - in fact, it was almost as if they were playing with 12 members in the team.

Sobers' leading suit, though, was his ability with bat in hand. He finished with an average of almost 58, and even that doesn't do full justice to his skills. Throughout his career, Sobers never particularly bothered with trivialities like stats and numbers, which make his achievements even more remarkable. It's astonishing that even after scoring at a rate that most specialist batsmen couldn't keep pace with, Sobers still had enough talent to spare to go ahead and take 235 Test wickets at a bowling average of less than 35.

Unlike a Sachin Tendulkar, though, Sobers didn't immediately set the world on fire when he entered Test cricket. For the first three years or so he was fairly ordinary, with only one half-century to show in his first 15 innings. The first sign of his truly precocious talent came during the course of a resounding defeat at the hands of England at The Oval in the summer of 1957. In extremely difficult batting conditions, in which West Indies were bundled out for 89 and 86 in their two innings, Sobers scored 39 and 42. No other West Indian batsman touched 30 in either innings.

From 1958, Sobers' batting graph soared. In only his third Test of the year, against Pakistan in Kingston, he scored a monumental unbeaten 365. It was the record for the highest Test score, and stayed that way for the next 36 years, which is the longest any batsman has held this record. His career average shot up almost 15 runs after that one innings, and in his next Test it touched 50 for the first time, from where it never dipped below 50 again. In fact, from the beginning of 1959 to the end of his career in 1974, his average never went below 56.

And then, of course, were his knocks outside of Test cricket. One of his finest batting displays - one that the Don said was "the greatest exhibition of batting ever seen in Australia", came at the MCG in 1972, when Sobers, playing for World XI, destroyed an Australian attack that included a rampant Dennis Lillee on the way to 254. Lillee had taken 8 for 29 in the previous Test, and had dismissed Sobers first ball in the first innings in Melbourne, but in the second innings Lillee finished a distant second-best, as Sobers cut and drove him to distraction. A few years earlier, a much lesser bowler, Glamorgan's Malcolm Nash, had been at the receiving end when Sobers spanked him for six sixes in an over, the first time it had ever happened in first-class cricket.

Sobers' Test career as a batsman
Period Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Till Dec 1957 14 672 30.54 0/ 3
Jan 1958 onwards 79 7360 62.90 26/ 27
Career 93 8032 57.78 26/ 30

As a bowler, Sobers' stats aren't as stunning, but he was more than handy with his ability to bowl various styles. His peak period as a bowler was understandably much shorter, but during the eight years between 1961 and 1968, he was quite a handful, averaging less than 28 and taking almost four wickets per Test.

In fact, his bowling career can be divided into three distinct parts: till 1960, he bowled quite sparingly, taking only 43 wickets in 34 matches, without a single five-for. Then came the best passage for him as a bowler, during which period he delivered two of his most incisive performances: at Headingley in 1966 he returned figures of 5 for 41 and 3 for 39 to help West Indies win by an innings; at the Gabba a couple of years later, his orthodox left-arm spin was good enough to give him a second-innings haul of 6 for 73 and bundle Australia out for 240 as they chased 366 for victory.

Sobers' Test career as a bowler
Period Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Till Dec 1960 34 43 47.25 118.7 0/ 0
Jan 1961 to Dec 1968 33 125 27.93 76.3 5/ 0
Jan 1969 onwards 26 67 36.94 103.6 1/ 0
Career 93 235 34.03 91.9 6/ 0

More than most other cricketers, Sobers was able to, on more than one occasion, deliver his excellence with bat and ball in the same series. Scoring 300 runs and taking 20 wickets in a series is no mean feat - it's only been achieved 15 times in the entire history of Test cricket - but Sobers managed it three times on his own, twice against England, and once against India. The Australian allrounder Keith Miller did it twice, but no one else has achieved it more than once. Ian Botham, Kapil Dev, Richard Hadlee and Shaun Pollock were among those who did it once each, while Imran Khan didn't even achieve it once.

Overall, Sobers' all-round numbers are outstanding - his batting average is nearly 24 more than his bowling average. In terms of this differential, only Jacques Kallis of South Africa has a slightly higher difference.

Top allrounders in Test cricket (Qual: 3000 runs, 200 wickets)
Player Tests Runs Average Wickets Bowl ave Diff in ave
Jacques Kallis 142 11,449 55.84 267 31.90 23.94
Garry Sobers 93 8032 57.78 235 34.03 23.75
Imran Khan 88 3807 37.69 362 22.81 14.88
Shaun Pollock 108 3781 32.31 421 23.11 9.20
Ian Botham 102 5200 33.54 383 28.40 5.14
Richard Hadlee 86 3124 27.16 431 22.29 4.87
Chris Cairns 62 3320 33.53 218 29.40 4.13
Kapil Dev 131 5248 31.05 434 29.64 1.41

Excluding the first three years of his Test career, when Sobers was still finding his feet in international cricket, he averaged nearly 63 in 79 matches, which was easily the best during that period. England's Ken Barrington was the only other batsman whose average was close to 60. Even Sobers' overall career average of 57.78 is among the very best: with a cut-off of 3000 runs, only five batsmen have done better.

Best Test batsmen between Jan 1958 and Dec 1974 (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Garry Sobers 79 7360 62.90 26/ 27
Ken Barrington 80 6754 59.76 20/ 35
Hanif Mohammad 37 3018 51.15 10/ 11
Doug Walters 50 3869 50.90 12/ 23
Rohan Kanhai 74 6021 49.35 15/ 28
Bob Simpson 50 4045 48.73 8/ 23
Ted Dexter 62 4502 47.89 9/ 27
Geoff Boycott 63 4579 47.69 12/ 26

And in the eight years when Sobers was at the peak on his bowling powers, he was among the best in that aspect too: only three bowlers took more than 100 wickets at an averge lower than Sobers' 27.93. West Indies had a pretty useful attack during that period too: Wes Hall and Charlie Griffith took care of the fast-bowling duties, while Lance Gibbs was the number one spinner. Since Sobers obviously wasn't the leading fast bowler or spinner, he was more of a support act, and hence seldom got the opportunity to bowl fast with the wind or slow against it. Later in his career with West Indies' fast-bowling resources dwindling, Sobers bowled long spells with defensive fields, but he managed that too without his bowling stats suffering too much.

Best Test bowlers between Jan 1961 and Dec 1968 (Qual: 100 wickets)
Bowler Tests Wickets Average Strike rate 5WI/ 10WM
Fred Trueman 26 133 21.67 49.4 10/ 3
Lance Gibbs 33 158 24.24 75.7 12/ 2
Peter Pollock 24 101 25.22 57.7 8/ 1
Garry Sobers 33 125 27.93 76.3 5/ 0
Graham McKenzie 46 201 28.42 68.8 14/ 3
Wes Hall 30 100 29.17 57.8 3/ 0
David Allen 32 109 29.91 89.6 4/ 0
Fred Titmus 47 145 30.82 96.1 7/ 0

As a captain Sobers was a mixed bag. Of the nine series he led in, West Indies won three, but those were the first three series he captained. In 1966 in England, especially, Sobers was immense: in five Tests Sobers scored 722 runs, including three hundreds, at an average of 103.14, and took 20 wickets at 27.25. At Lord's in the second Test he played arguably his greatest innings: his unbeaten 163 helped turn around a first-innings deficit of 86 and helped West Indies recover from a precipitous 95 for 5 in the second innings. With David Holford, who made an unbeaten 105, Sobers added an undefeated 274 for the sixth wicket. He scored another century at Headingley and starred with both bat and ball in that game.

Thereafter, though, his captaincy stock fell, especially when his reckless declaration at Port of Spain leading to an England win in a Test in which they took only nine wickets.

Despite the pressures of captaincy, Sobers' batting standards remained high, with an average of almost 59 in the 39 Tests he led in. Among captains who've scored at least 3000 runs, only Don Bradman has a higher average.

Highest averages as captain in Tests (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Don Bradman 24 3147 101.51 14/ 7
Garry Sobers 39 3528 58.80 11/ 15
Graham Gooch 34 3582 58.72 11/ 16
Brian Lara 47 4685 57.83 14/ 19
Greg Chappell 48 4209 55.38 13/ 19

Sobers was also one of the greatest match-winning batsmen in Test cricket: his average in wins was 77.42, which remains among the highest. Only the Don and Pakistan's Inzamam-ul-Haq have higher averages.

Highest Test averages in wins (Qual: 3000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Don Bradman 30 4813 130.08 23/ 4
Inzamam-ul-Haq 49 4690 78.16 17/ 20
Garry Sobers 31 3097 77.42 12/ 11
Kumar Sangakkara 42 4282 76.46 15/ 15
Greg Chappell 38 3595 70.49 14/ 16

Some of Sobers' most memorable innings came against England. From 36 Tests against them, Sobers scored 3214 runs, which accounts for 40% of his total aggregate. He played eight full series against them, and averaged more than 75 in four of them. His poorest series against England was his last one, in which he managed only 100 runs from five innings, including scores of 0, 0 and 20 in his last three innings. Despite that, he finished with a 60-plus average against them, which is among the highest for any batsman who's scored more than 2000 runs versus England.

Highest Test averages v England (Qual: 2000 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Don Bradman 37 5028 89.78 19/ 12
Viv Richards 36 2869 62.36 8/ 15
Brian Lara 30 2983 62.14 7/ 11
Sachin Tendulkar 24 2150 61.42 7/ 10
Garry Sobers 36 3214 60.64 10/ 13

And unlike some of the current batsmen who are much greater batsmen in the first innings than the second, Sobers had no such problem. Even in the fourth innings of matches, Sobers managed an average of almost 47. Apart from that unbeaten 163 at Lord's mentioned earlier, one of his most meaningful second-innings contributions came against India in Kanpur in 1958. Both teams had been bowled out for 222 in their first innings, and in their second, West Indies were struggling at 83 for 4 when Sobers struck a magnificent 198 to lift them to 443, a target which turned out to be well beyond India in their second innings.

Sobers' overall second-innings average of 55.15 is the second-highest among batsmen with 2500 runs; only Jacques Kallis of South Africa has done better.

Highest second-innings averages in Tests (Qual: 2500 runs)
Batsman Innings Runs Average 100s/ 50s
Jacques Kallis 99 4231 59.59 9/ 26
Garry Sobers 67 2923 55.15 8/ 15
Allan Border 111 4371 54.63 11/ 24
Kumar Sangakkara 63 2899 52.70 9/ 12
Matthew Hayden 81 3472 51.82 11/ 13
Sunil Gavaskar 90 3963 51.46 11/ 22
VVS Laxman 75 2968 51.17 5/ 18
Geoff Boycott 85 3319 51.06 9/ 17

S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by   on (December 15, 2010, 18:07 GMT)

A legend.No doubt, Sir.Sobers is the Greatest Cricketer . dr.shrikant,desai.India

Posted by harshthakor on (December 15, 2010, 3:09 GMT)

Another allrounder worthy of consideration was Keith Miller who could have been Sober's greatest rival had he had a longer career.In this part I would like to qutre some famous legends

'Sobers was a cricketer beyond compare-the only Perfect player,the game has ever produced -if evere there was one,what with his mear impossible qualities."

Don Bradman:Sobers was the 'five in ine cricketer '-batsman,fieldsman and three in -one bowler. Quoting Geoff Armstrong "If a better all-round cricketer than Sobers ever emerges,that man will be the greatest cricketer the game has ever seen"

Remember Sobers bolwed in an attack with Hall and Griffith,as well as lance Gibbs and was thus compelled to bolw long defensive spells after the top bolwers faded.Infact in the main part of his bolwing career he capture 125 wickets in 33 tests at an average of 27 runs,which is remarkable.

Had Gary played in the recent weak West Indian team he may have proved a greater champion.

Posted by ampshare on (December 14, 2010, 19:42 GMT)

Anyone who saw both Kallis and Sobers play and thinks Kalliis is better needs help. If Sobers had gonein at number four instead of six or seven he would have averaged over 70. Andanyone who saw him knows his seam bolwling was as good as Kallis and he had other styles as well.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 14, 2010, 17:58 GMT)

Gary Sobers,in addition to being the best all-rounder is arguably the best West Indian batsman of all,the best left-handed batsman of all,and amongst the graetset left-arm bowlers and fielders.Arguably,he is also the most complete batsman after Bradman,if you evaluate his brilliance in a crisis in all situations ,conditions and against any opposition.Sobers superiority as an allrounder is the equivalent of Bradman to batsman.Had he played in the modern age ,he may well have been in another league,adapting to the neds of the one-day game.Gary was lethal with the new ball,unlike Kallis .

The later Imran khan was the closest to Sobers as a cricketer ,with his brilliant match-winning flair as a player and a captain ,who could turn the complexion of a game more than Viv Richards or Sachin Tendulkar.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 14, 2010, 17:47 GMT)

Reproducing Ananth Narayan's stats analysis Analysis 1-just batting and bowling points added 1. Sobers G.St.A ~ ~ 69.15 2. Kallis J.H 67.74 3. Botham I.T 61.27 4. Imran Khan 60.81 5. Pollock S.M 58.95 6. Hadlee R.J ~ 56.71

Analysis 2-colums below represent batting,bolwing and all-round performance index

01.Sobers G.St.A 26.47 14.64 13.74 54.86 02.Botham I.T 17.32 20.91 11.07 49.29 03.Imran Khan 15.11 25.90 7.37 48.38 04.Hadlee R.J 12.54 26.85 8.72 48.11 05.Kallis J.H 25.28 13.97 7.17 46.42

Gary Sobers is most closely challenged by Botham as a pure allrounder.As a fastbolwing all-rounder Imran Khan was the best of them all.However when he championed the cause with the bat he hardly shone with he ball.Had Wasim Akram done justice to his batting talent he could well have been Sober's greatest rival for the title.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 14, 2010, 17:30 GMT)

I thoroughly endorse the point of hammerstats that Sobers performed outstandingly agaisnt superior oposition than Kallis.In 3 analysis of Ananth Nrayan on cricinfo Gary Sobers is at the top.I repeat Kallis has never turned matches or series consistently with bat and ball.Stas are never atrue reflection to Sobers bowling or even his overall merits as acricketer.Kallis has never made the same impoact on the game as Sobers,and has neve equalled Sober's match-winning ability as acricketer.Kallis has a relatively low batting strike rate and has often failed to force the pace,unlike Gary in similar situations.

As a pure all-rounder Ian Botham is Sober's graetset challenger since he has been the most consistent all-round performer with both bat and ball at his best from 1977-1982,infact even overshadowing Sobers in the 1981 Ashes and 1980 Jubillee test.He was alos a graet slip fielder.

If he had done justice to his talent Wasim Akram should have been the Sobers of the modern era.

Posted by absha1 on (December 14, 2010, 16:41 GMT)

Kallis is wonderful, but for a player who has played so many tests, he should have completed the all-rounder's triple by now. When he does get it, he will be slowest to reach the mark by miles, but he has to get it to merit consideration amongst the great allrounders.

With less than a wicket a test, Kallis' all round credentials are a weak argument - like Wasim Akram with the skills balanced in reverse.

Kallis' batting is excellent and will improve, like that of many other great batsmen, but really, even now, South Africa need a five pronged attack with him in the team. They should have beaten Pakistan recently but lacked the firepower. Bowling wins tests, not batting. I would rate Sobers much higher.

Posted by BellCurve on (December 14, 2010, 16:07 GMT)

@HammerStats - If you want to ajust Kallis' stats for Zim and Bangladesh you have to adjust Sobers' for India and Pakistan. Especially Pakistan in 1958/9 were hardly a world force, and if it weren't for his exploits against them, Sobers would probably not be recognised as an undisputed all-time great. The 365* innings is a case in point. Pakistan's best bowler had to leave the field. The depleted attack was quick broken on a very flat pitch. If Sobers didn't run out Hunte, Hunte probably would have broken the record, and history would have been very different.

Posted by wonky on (December 14, 2010, 15:44 GMT)

I hear you hammerstats but you're grabbing at straws .. his average against australia was against the Mcgrath's and Warnes of the world and he averaged better than most against them. Sobers never faced them. The fact that kallis is mentioned in most of these posts and is an underlying theme in this article proves all that needs to be proved. He is right up there and as long as he has a better all rounder average .. .quite frankly that says it all. One thign is for sure ... its between Kallis and Sobers and hsitory will be the decider. So far its kallis by a whisker ... the bottom line though is Botham, Dev, Akram are all pretenders to the throne.

Posted by Engle on (December 14, 2010, 15:30 GMT)

The biggest difference between Sobers and Kallis is that Sobers was an entertainer; Kallis was not.

Posted by HammerStats on (December 14, 2010, 10:12 GMT)

It is always hard to compare players from different eras but I always view modern records with caution, smaller tracks, bigger bats, flatter pitches and weaker teams. I don't rate Kallis in the same hemisphere as Sobers. Take out Kallis's record against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe and his averages are Bat 53.07 and Bowl 34.51. Sobers played against much stronger opposition. Kallis against Australia and England alone averages low 40s with the bat and mid 30s with the ball.

Posted by wonky on (December 14, 2010, 10:00 GMT)

No doubt Sobers is a legend .. but this is a statistical summary and the bottom line is Jacque Kallis has a better all rounder rating on any stats site. Kevin Peterson declared Kallis the greatest ever and I think its time we acknowledge that stats dont lie, 11000 plus runs and 270 wickets at 30 average is a greater record that Sobers. Just becuase Ian Chappel is on the Committee of "gretatest ever" selectors means absolutely nothing. Since the 4 - 0 drubbing in the seventies in SA he has never acknowledged SA Players as legends. Here it is .... greatest all rounder ever Jacque Kallis, Sobers will have to be benched, Graeme Pollock second highest test average behind Bradman, he should be pencilled in 2nd. Come on Ian Chappel, let it in, stop chosing your brother and learn to be an objective commentator. As for the strike rate arguement, Kalli's is 44 in tests better than Allan Border at 40 .. .another Ian Chappel Legend. LOL

Posted by Shripathi on (December 14, 2010, 7:47 GMT)

I admire Sobers as a great cricketer and a great batsman, but as a bowler, he was mediocre. His success was sketchy, and his bowling stats belie his talent: marginal despite a great deal of variety.

Kallis is the better allrounder of the two. His bowling was always better than a foil, and his strike rate would put lead pacers from India to shame.

Imran was superb, and perhaps more in the mold of a true all-rounder-- a fantastic bowler and a better than average batsman. Sobers and Kallis were great batsmen, Sobers fantastic, but as bowlers they were average, Sobers even less so.

A SR of 90 for someone who was a spinner and a pacer is simply not world class.

Posted by   on (December 14, 2010, 7:07 GMT)

I saw a game of West Indies against England, when Sobers changed from medium fast to left arm spin and back again, all in one over while bowling to Dexter and Barrington. Dexter was happier with pace but uncomfortable with spin. Barringon was the opposite, ill at ease with pace but comfortable facing spinners. During the same over, depending on who was facing him Sobers bowled both pace and spin! He could change the length and direction at will.

Sobers the bowler was underestimated. He did not need to display his wares, there were others to do the job when he was around There will never be another Bradman. Equally, we will never see the likes of Sobers again.

Mohan Ram

Posted by HatsforBats on (December 14, 2010, 3:54 GMT)

Unbeleivable. What a sight he must have been in full flight. Surely the greatest cricketer (batsmen, bowler, fielder) ever. Meanwhile, on his stats page it says "While Bradman's status as the greatest batsman is increasingly under threat,...". Really? By whom?

Posted by the_complete_batsman on (December 14, 2010, 3:37 GMT)

Certainly one of the top 2 or 3 batsmen of all time. An amazing athlete as well...watch a youtube clip where he takes a couple of catches at leg slip, off Lance Gibbs' bowling....exceptional reflexes and fluid grace.

Posted by waspsting on (December 14, 2010, 1:55 GMT)

bowling stats look very ordinary.

I've heard good things about his pace bowling, but no on really has anything to say about the spin. They just say, "he could bowl orthodox, and he could bowl chinaman". Thats good to know. How good a spinner was he?

Great bat, though. possibly the best after Don.

Posted by absha1 on (December 14, 2010, 1:44 GMT)

One of the greatest, most complete, cricketers to ever play the game. Perhaps one of the greatest batsmen too.

Posted by mrmonty on (December 13, 2010, 16:59 GMT)

Salutes to Sobers, as the greatest cricketer of the game. And, please stop bringing Tendulkar into every discussion forum on Cricinfo. I wonder why Kallis has not gotten his due as a great of the game!

Posted by ravi.m on (December 13, 2010, 15:44 GMT)

To the editor,

It wouldn't have hurt to include Sir Garry's numbers for World XI. He topped the aggregate for World XI in Australia in 1971-72, which included an innings that prompted Sir Donald to say: "greatest exhibition of batting seen in Australia".

In England 1970, Sir Garry not topped the average and aggregate for both batting (588 runs at 73.5) and bowling (20+ wickets at around 20) for World XI. The combined efforts of Barry Richards & Graeme Pollock couldn't match Sir Garry in a time where the South Africans needed to show the World what they are about to miss out.

An ardent follower can only say that playing along the greats must have brought the best out of Sir Garry - simply because he needed to show 'em all who the boss was.

All hail "THE GREATEST"!

Posted by Bilal_Choudry on (December 13, 2010, 12:51 GMT)

With a test bowling ave of 34 and 6 five fors. wasnt much of a bowler was he

Posted by Nuxxy on (December 13, 2010, 12:33 GMT)

I'm a huge fan of Kallis, but I'm willing to admit Sobers had more talent than Kallis. Sobers was a spectacular cricketer who was destined to achieved spectacular things. Kallis is a slightly above-average cricketer who through determination and grit has achieved spectacular things.

Posted by Cricketer2010 on (December 13, 2010, 11:12 GMT)

this list may be viewed from two more perspectives:

AS BOWLING ALL ROUNDER:

1)Imran (Avg: 22.81) 2) Kallis (Avg: 31.90) 3) Sobers (Avg: 34.03)

AS A BATTING ALLROUNDER:

1) Sobers ( Avg: 57.78) 2) Kallis (Avg: 55.84) 3) Imran(Avg: 37.69)

an interesting fact clearly emerges, that as a bowling allrounder Imran is better, as a batting all rounder Sobers is superior but as a whole Kallis is No.1 by a mere margin of 0.19 (23.95-23.75)

Posted by BellCurve on (December 13, 2010, 11:11 GMT)

Although I am a fan of the man I am going to be critical of Sobers' bowling. It is a well established fact that spinners bowl better on worn-out tracks as they can use the rough areas in and around footmarks. A look at the 3rd and 4th innings bowling stats for all the prolific spinners proves this statement. Similarly, seamers do better on greentops and in overcast conditions. They also benefit from cracked and worn surfaces, but not to the same degree as spinners, as the footmarks are not available to them. Since Sobers could bowl both seam and spin, he was in a position to always make the best use of the conditions. Yet he still ended with a career average of more than 34 and a strike rate of more than 90. It is true that he produced a handful of brilliant performances during his career, but overall he just wasn't consistent enough with the ball. Most of the time he lacked penetration.

Posted by The_Dynamite_Kid on (December 13, 2010, 11:07 GMT)

Ian Chappell once famously said on Garry Sobers, "He is as far ahead of the next all rounder that I've seen as much as Bradman is ahead of the next batsman in terms of batting averages, and that's a hell of a lot". Simply put, Sobers is the greatest all rounder that has ever walked on God's green earth. Funny that some Pak fans were upset on Sobers being put in Cricinfo's All Time World XI team instead of their hero Imran Khan.

Posted by KBowser on (December 13, 2010, 10:32 GMT)

There has been much argument over who is the greatest batsman after the Don. Sobers tends to be excluded because he is an allrounder - in my opinion he is the greatest batsman since the Don and the greatest cricketer bar none. His flamboyant style makes his statistics (for what statistics are worth) even more meritorious. Not for him the mere accumulation of record after record. His fielding was as good and as athletic as any player who has played the game, and is better than the allrounders referred to above and all of the elite batsman alongside Greg Chapell and perhaps Ponting. Obviously he was a very versatile and good bowler to boot.

Posted by Cricketer2010 on (December 13, 2010, 9:05 GMT)

1st table of "top all rounders" tells the whole story 1) Kaliis 2) Sobers 3) Imran

the ppl who argue that Botham or Kapil or Headlee are better than Sobers or Imran should consult the above Table.......no doublt who is or who was best.

these three are best and will remain best........as a bowling all rounder Imran is no.1 and as a batting allrounder Kallis and Sobers are best

Posted by hiteshpandya on (December 13, 2010, 8:48 GMT)

No doubt greatest all rounder of all time...as pointed out in the summing up para. , only jacques kallis is better than him.

Posted by BellCurve on (December 13, 2010, 8:11 GMT)

The final sentence of this article sums it up perfectly: "only Jacques Kallis of South Africa has done better"

Posted by sonjjay on (December 13, 2010, 6:38 GMT)

The legend series is one of the best things on cricinfo. I thoroughly enjoy reading about the legends specially about Malcolm Marshall.Coming back to the topic Sir Garfield Sobers was truly one of the greatest all rounders.All though he too had his fair share of controversies regarding the African tour.But what makes the game so beautiful is different players having different skill sets performing for their country.A look at the stats reveals how he good he was although the segment wise break up based on periods is being very subjective. I would also appreciate if the next edition is on Frank Worrell. Thanks.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2010, 6:01 GMT)

Regarding the stat about taking 20 wickets and scoring 300 runs in a series, and imran khan not having even one, it has to be pointed out that Pakistan has never played many 5 or 6 test series. Except for with india, during that period all the series Pakistan played in were 3 test series. It is obviously much easier to have stats like that in a longer series.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (December 13, 2010, 5:08 GMT)

Not bad for a player who started off as a specialist spinner. Phenomenal cricketer, easily and purely the greatest of all time!

Posted by harshthakor on (December 13, 2010, 4:24 GMT)

I wish Rajesh,you could have added the Rest of the World averages of Sobers in 1970 and 1972.His all-round performances were at their best in the 1970 season.

Gary Sobers is like a Muhammad or Christ to Cricket and even the Viv Richards and Sachin Tendulkar's are not his equals,however much their impact on the game.It is sad that several modern fans rate Imran Khan ahead because of his great charisma.Imran has never as consistently performed with bat and ball in a test match or series nad became a great batsman late in is career,nor has Jacques Kallis.

Where Imran may have scored over Gary was as a captain.Imran led Pakistan to a team of world -beaters inspiring his players to win the world cup and the joint unofficial test champion title.In contrast West Indian Cricket's decline began under Gary Sobers after their defeat by England at home in 1968-69 and India in 1970-71.At his peak after Sobers,Imran was the greatest match-winner overall.

Posted by   on (December 13, 2010, 4:18 GMT)

the greatest cricketer ever known...by rights.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 13, 2010, 3:58 GMT)

Gary Sobers could have won himself a place in a team as a bowler itself.His left arm pace was tantalisng ,particularly with the new ball and he could also bowl spin and chinaman.With his brilliant consistency in turning matches silmuntaneously with bat and ball Sobers is the greatset allrounder.At his peak Ian botham in the 1977-1982 period and Imran Khan from 1981-1988 are his greatest challengers.Botham at his best like he 1981 Ashes and the 1980 Jubilee test was perhaps a better match-winner but was never as consistent as Gary.

The greatest cricketer of the modern era after Sobers is undoudtedly Imran Khan,the greatest fastbowling all-rounder ever ,best match winning cricketer and amongst the great captain s of all time.No Cricketer has done so much to shape his nation's destiny as Imran who took Pakistan to the top of the Cricket world,with historic triumps,in England,Australia,West Indies,India and the 1992 World Cup.

Posted by harshthakor on (December 13, 2010, 3:38 GMT)

The equivalent of a prophet like Christ or Muhammad sent down to the earth to play Cricket.Gary Sobers is the greatest cricketer of all time,surpassing even Bradman as aCrcketer.No cricketer could ever change the complexion of a single game in batting,bolwing and fielding.His performance in the 1970 English season for Rest of the World would not be equaled by even W.G.Grace,rated the best ofall by some experts.Similarly Sobers performances in England in 1966 and in the Kingston test against England in 1968 when his batting and bolwing almsot won a game from a lost cause were unsurpassable.Jacques Kallis may have bettter statistics but could never perform ouststandingly with bat andball silmuntanoeously,in a test match or afull series. Sobers is the greatest match-wiinning cricketer of all and personally even as a batsman I rate him ahead of Lara and Tendulkar,with his ability to dominate great pace bolwing and champion a crisis.

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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