He is the greatest cricketer the world has ever seen. Today Barbados’ lone living National Hero Sir Garfield Sobers is 80 not out and will be celebrated tonight, tomorrow and Sunday for reaching his latest milestone.
Today, tributes poured in for the man many describe as classy, humble and talented.
In reference to Sir Garry, Barbadian actress Alison Sealy-Smith made reference to the quote “form comes and goes, but class lives forever”. She said this was especially true about Sobers whom she describes as “a very classy man”.
“Today is a great day. Reaching 80 years is just a testament to someone’s willpower and just commitment to life. With Sir Garry, you are talking about someone who has helped to shape how we see ourselves as Caribbean people and Barbadians. He made us believe that yes we are tiny, but we can go out there and be bold and be great. He made us all feel bigger, he made us all feel better, he made us feel as though we could achieve and I think that is absolutely wonderful,” she said.
Sealy-Smith said she was glad that Barbadians came together to honour him while he is still alive to receive the accolades.
“We have a tendency to not remember people until after they are gone. So I think it is great that he is still here. I think it is fantastic we can do this for him and I’m proud to be a part of it,” she added.
First vice-president of the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA) Deighton Smith told Barbados TODAY that beyond being a National Hero, Sobers was a wonderful man who was deserving of praise.
“It’s very rare for a person to become a National Hero in their lifetime and that speaks volumes about him. I discovered that behind his genius as a cricketer, was a wonderful man. He is one of the most humble and sensitive people I have met in my life. He is a great character to be around. When you put his talent with his tremendous humility it is almost impossible,”
Smith said, adding that one of the greatest pleasures in his life was being able to meet and work with such a legend.
He called on younger cricketers to emulate Sir Garry and they would go far.
“I think the younger cricketers can mimic his single-minded dedication to his craft. Garry Sobers has always lived cricket. Long after he stopped playing he helped persons who were playing. Brian Lara even admitted publicly that Sir Garry gave him advice. It is that love and passion for the game that has taken him where he is today,” he said.
Chief executive officer of the BCA Noel Lynch echoed Smith’s sentiments saying he had never met anyone as humble as Sir Garry.
“I don’t think there is anyone who has achieved as much as Sir Garry that is as humble as him. I know he will be blown away by what happens today and if I know him well, I know he would rather be on a golf course somewhere having a quiet evening, but it is well deserved,” he said.
Lynch said he didn’t believe Barbados would ever be able to do enough to repay Sir Garry for all he had done for the country.
“Eighty not out is a lot of batting in any type of cricket. We hope he makes his century in our time so that we can witness it. When I was growing up cricket was all we had, it was our metaphor for excellence. Sir Garry has done way more for Barbados than we are able to give him credit for. His dedication to a craft should be something persons should try to emulate,” he added.
Young cricketer Carlos Maynard, who will be playing in the big masters game tonight at Kensington Oval, said it was truly a privilege to be playing in the match in honour of a man who he had looked up to since he was a child.
“Playing in the game is a privilege to be playing amongst so many legends. I just want to learn as much as I can and just enjoy myself. Reaching 80 is a milestone and I have learnt a lot just watching him and I look forward to learning lots more,” Maynard said.
In addition to the masters game this evening, there will be a gala reception tomorrow, July 29th, titled An Evening with Sir Garry, which will be held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. An invitational golf tournament at the prestigious Sandy Lane Golf and Country Club brings the celebrations to a close on July 31.
Sir Garfield, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975 at the Garrison Savannah, was a product of the Bayland, St Michael. He made his international debut against England in 1954 and went on to play 93 Tests, scoring 8 032 runs at an average of 57.78 with 26 centuries and 30 fifties. He had a highest score of 365 not out. Sir Garfield also snared 235 wickets at an average of 34.03. He retired from the international game following the 1974 home series against England.
The great left-handed all-rounder had a brilliant First-Class career where he accumulated 28 314 runs with 86 centuries and 121 fifties at an average of 54.87. He also had 1 043 wickets at an average of 27.74.
In addition to playing for the West Indies and Barbados, Sir Garfield also played county cricket in England for Nottinghamshire and state cricket in Australia for South Australia.