Close to 150 lucky English visitors are still cherishing the opportunity to meet and greet Sir Garfield Sobers up close and personal, when the global cricket legend hosted a special night of cricket nostalgia at the Sea Breeze Hotel .
All guests of the south coast all-inclusive family resort, the visitors are currently in Barbados for the third One Day International between West Indies and England and will be among those expected to fill Kensington Oval on Thursday.
On Monday night they were thrilled to be in the company of the great man and many of the British visitors, who clearly love their cricket, used the occasion to jog the memory of 80 year-old Sir Garry.
Following a barrage of questions, jokes and commentaries, they also took opportunities to secure treasured photos with Barbados’ only living National Hero.
On several occasions Sir Garry was taken back to exciting moments in his stellar cricketing career, and one of his fondest memories related to his historic August 1968 feat of striking six sixes in one over off Glamorgan bowler Malcolm Nash in a county game.
“We had a lot of runs on the board and I was batting freely. I didn’t really set out to do it but after the first five balls had cleared the boundary, I told myself wherever he pitches this last ball I am going to hit it for six,” he told his audience.
Following on, to much laughter, the man recognized as the game’s greatest all-rounder disclosed that after that match he and Nash were walking up to be interviewed and he realized that Nash was still smiling after such a thrashing.
“I couldn’t understand what he was smiling about, so I asked him. His reply to me was . . . I want you to know that you couldn’t have done it alone. I think Malcolm became more famous than me,” said Sir Garry.
The former Barbados and West Indies captain also told his audience that older West Indian players – the late Sir Frank Worrell and Sir Everton Weekes – were like father figures to him in his early years and he rates the 1960-61 series against Australia, in Australia, as the most exciting series he ever played .
That series featured the famous tied Test at Brisbane in December 1960, when Sir Garry scored 132, and West Indies narrowly lost the series 2-1.
Sir Garry said he was also fond of England and noted that when he first visited there on the 1957 tour, the country provided a great learning curve in his illustrious career and also produced several outstanding cricketers, particularly wicketkeeper/batsmen such as Godfrey Evans, Alan Knott and Gill Langley.
Asked to compare today’s players with some of those of yesteryear, Sir Garry said he would not attempt to do it as playing surfaces , conditions and many of the rules governing the game were different in years gone by.
“It was totally different. We did not wear helmets, the outfields were not as good for fielders and there were no rules restricting bouncers and beamers like today,” he said.
Sir Garry, who reminded the audience of his humble beginnings, said he always placed team above self and never set-out to establish records along the way. The records attributed to him, he said, came about because he always tried to play cricket to the best of his ability and to entertain spectators all over the world.
General Manager of the Sea Breeze Hotel, Faye Best, said they were happy to host the living legend at the property and equally happy that their guests fully enjoyed the occasion.
Said Best: “We are always seeking ways to enhance the Sea Breeze experience for our guests and to provide them with lasting memories of Barbados. We try to make the Sea Breeze experience their best ever holiday experience.”