Athletes Cricketer

Garfield Sobers

Garfield Sobers is a former cricketer who played for the West Indies between 1954 and 1974.

A highly skilled bowler, an aggressive batsman and an excellent fielder, he is widely considered to be cricket’s greatest ever all-rounder.

Sobers made his first-class debut for the Barbados cricket team at the age of 16 in 1953, and his Test debut for the West Indies the following year.

Originally playing mainly as a bowler, he was soon promoted up the batting order. Against Pakistan in 1958, Sobers scored his maiden Test century, progressing to 365 not out and establishing a new record for the highest individual score in an innings.

His record was not broken until Brian Lara scored 375 in 1994. Sobers was made captain of the West Indies in 1965, a role which he would hold until 1972. He would also captain a Rest of the World XI during their 1970 tour of England.

Overall, Sobers played 93 Tests for the West Indies, scoring 8032 runs at an average of 57.78, and taking 235 wickets at an average of 34.03.

He has the fifth highest batting average in Test cricket in the list of cricketers with more than 5,000 runs.

In his 383 first-class matches, he scored over 28,000 runs and took over 1000 wickets, having spent time with South Australia and Nottinghamshire towards the end of his career.

Sobers was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1975 for his services to cricket. He became a dual Barbadian-Australian citizen through marriage in 1980.

By an act of Parliament in 1998, Sobers was named as one of the ten National Heroes of Barbados.

In 2009, Sobers was inducted into the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame.

  • Full name: Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers, AO, OCC,
  • Profession: Former Barbados cricketer
  • Born: 28 July 1936 (age 83 years), Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Test debut (cap 84): 30 March 1954 v England
  • Only ODI (cap 11): 5 September 1973 v England
  • Bowling: Left-arm fast medium; Slow left-arm orthodox; Left-arm unorthodox spin
  • Spouse: Pru Kirby (m. 1969–1990)
  • Awards: BBC Sports Personality World Sport Star of the Year

About Garfield Sobers

Garfield St Aubrun Sobers was born on 28 July 1936 to Shamont and Thelma Sobers of Walcott Avenue, Bay Land, St Michael, Bridgetown, Barbados, and was the fifth of six children.

At birth he had two extra fingers, one on each hand, which he removed himself during childhood, “with the aid of catgut and a sharp knife.”

Sobers was only five when his father died at sea in January 1942, after his ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat.

From an early age, Sobers demonstrated the ability and enthusiasm to play with great skill almost any sport involving a ball, particularly cricket, football and basketball.

He and his similarly talented brother Gerald helped their Bay Street Boys’ School team to win the primary school Inter-School Cricket championship for three consecutive years.

When he was 13, he was recruited to play for two local cricket teams; the Kent St Philip club in the Barbados Cricket League (BCL), and the Wanderers club, located at Bay Land, in the Barbados Cricket Association (BCA). Garnet Ashby, captain of Kent St Philip, told him that this was his opportunity to play cricket with “the big boys”.

Sobers gained useful experience by bowling to Wanderers batsmen, including West Indies Test player Denis Atkinson, at practice in the nets and soon developed his great skill as a left arm spin bowler.

More importantly for his career, he was observed by Inspector Wilfred Farmer, captain of the Police team in the BCL First Division.

Farmer offered Sobers a chance to play for the Police team in the 1951–52 season, while he was still only 15.

In the 1952–53 season, Sobers was invited to the Barbados trials for the colony’s tour match against the Indian touring team at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown. He was initially selected as 12th man but then made the team itself when Frank King was forced to withdraw with an injury.

He therefore made his first-class debut on 31 January 1953, aged only 16. Batting at number nine, he scored 7 not out in his only innings but made an immediate impression as a bowler, taking 4/50 and 3/92.

A full year passed before Sobers, now 17, made his second first-class appearance, again playing against a touring team.

He batted at number five against Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), scoring 46 and 27; and took two wickets in the match.

He had shown enough talent in these two matches to be selected for West Indies and his third first-class appearance was his Test debut.