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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Sir Garry Sobers is born - the undisputed greatest all-rounder of all-time

Sir Garry Sobers signs copies of his autobiography
Sir Garry Sobers signs copies of his autobiography
©Reuters

July 28, 1936 - Sobers' 26 centuries from 160 Test innings may pale in comparison to Kallis' 45, another great all-rounder, but the South African took 280 innings to score those, meaning that he scored a century in 16.1 % of his total innings. Impressive that the figure is, Sobers edges out Kallis with 16.3 % of his innings producing 100 or more runs.

 

It is interesting that in the times when Ben Stokes is being hailed as not only the best all-rounder in international cricket but the best current cricketer across formats by pundits and the Wisden Trophy is being touted as the clash between the two best all-rounders in the world, Jason Holder and Ben Stokes, that Sir Garry Sobers celebrates his 84th birthday.

When the question of the best batsman in cricket history is posed, many agree that Don Bradman is the best to have ever walked the cricket field. However, there are those who advocate in favour of Sachin Tendulkar or Ricky Ponting. There are also some backers of Brian Lara, Sunil Gavaskar and Steve Smith.

But when the question of the best all-rounder of all-time pops up, there are hardly any who debate the claim of Garfield St Auburn Sobers. The all-rounder was born on July 28, 1936 in Barbados and represented Barbados, Nottinghamshire, South Australia and the West Indies international team with tremendous success.

Sobers made his First-class debut at just 16 years of age and was called up for the national side a year later, at 17. In an international career which spanned two decades, Sobers played 93 Test matches and scored a staggering 8,032 runs at an average of 57.78.

 

 

Even if 10 units are chipped off the average, even pure batsmen will be proud of the numbers. Given the fact that Sobers picked up 235 Test wickets to go along with those runs and played in an era when Test matches were infrequent and the quality of the bowling attack was superb, it really leaves you awestruck.

When Garry Sobers bid goodbye to international cricket with his last Test against England at Port of Spain in April 1974, he was the highest run-getter in Test cricket and his 365* in the third Test of the Pakistan tour of West Indies in 1958 at Kingston was the highest individual Test score then.

Sobers, who was just 21 at the time, initially played as a bowler in the side. The knock still stands at the 5th place in the list of most runs scored by a batsman in an innings and the highest individual score by an all-rounder. England's Ben Stokes with 258, South Africa's Jaques Kallis with 224, England's Ian Botham with 208 and West Indies' Jason Holder with 202 are the other names on the list to have crossed the 200-run mark.

 

 

Sobers gained stature with his unbeaten triple century. He could have easily become the first man to score 400 in Test cricket had his skipper Gerry Alexander not declared the innings at 790/3.

At the time of his retirement, Sobers was also the second-highest wicket-taker for West Indies. He was also the cricketer to have taken the third-highest number of catches by a non-wicketkeeper.

Sobers' 26 centuries from 160 Test innings may pale in comparison to Kallis' 45 but the South African took 280 innings to score those, meaning that he scored a century in 16.1 % of his total innings. Impressive that the figure is, Sobers edges Kallis with 16.3 % of his innings producing 100 or more runs.

The freak that Sobers was, he could also bowl left-arm medium pace and left-arm chinaman apart from his left-arm orthodox. Just imagine the bucks he would have pocketed in this IPL era!

 

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