Barbados has exceeded all expectations by producing some of the world’s biggest cricketing legends.
No matter which country you visit, if you ask a cricket player what Sir Garfield Sobers is famous for, there can only be one answer – cricket.
Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers was born on 28 July 1936 in a suburb of Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados.
The fifth of six children, Sobers, immediately impacted the world by being born with six fingers on each hand.
Little did anyone realize then that such an extraordinary beginning would lead to such a remarkable future.
Rising from the back streets of Barbados, Sobers soon proved himself to be an accomplished athlete, excelling at golf, soccer, and basketball.
But cricket caught Sober’s eye; at 16, he made his first-class debut.
Demonstrating his incredible bowling skill, it took only one more year before Sobers appeared in his first Test match for the West Indies at the remarkable age of just 17.
Sobers quickly established himself as one of the most excellent left-handed bowlers the West Indies had seen, but four years later, Sobers unleashed his best form.
In 1958, at 21, Sobers smashed a massive 365-not-out against Pakistan, claiming the record for the highest maiden Test century of all time, which he still holds today, and the highest individual score in a test match. This cricket achievement would stand for 36 years until beaten by a fellow West Indian, Brian Lara, who hit 375 against England.
Sobers’ batting achievement suddenly made the world sit up and listen – this was not just your average left-handed bowler!
In all Test matches between 1953 and 1974, Sobers amassed 8,032 runs with an average of 57.78.
And as if that wasn’t enough, his bowling accomplishments of 235 Test wickets at 34.03 runs each are fantastic. Made even more remarkable as he achieved these wickets by bowling left-arm orthodox, left-arm fast-medium, and with a punishing chinaman – most bowlers are lucky if they are good at one of these styles!
And when Sobers was resting from bowling, he was widely regarded as the most exceptional fielder for close-catching.
Then there is the small matter of Sobers being the first cricketer in cricket history to achieve maximum runs off one over – hitting six sixes off six balls!
The television cameras thankfully captured his place in the history books, and thanks to the wonder of the internet, we can all relive his remarkable achievement here:
Sobers retired from cricket in 1974, widely recognized as the best all-rounder cricket player ever, a title everyone still acknowledges today.
In the following year, in recognition of his services to cricket, Queen Elizabeth II made him a knight of the realm, and breaking with tradition, instead of performing the ceremony at Buckingham Palace, she flew to Barbados and knighted Sobers at the Garrison Savannah.
Tributes to Sobers have continued since, and in 1992, a new sporting facility, the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex, was opened in Barbados.
In 1998, Sobers was given the Order of the Caribbean Community 1998 for services to cricket across the West Indies.
Finally, in 1999, the Prime Minister of Barbados named Sobers as one of Barbados’ ten national heroes and granted the island a federal holiday in recognition of their respective achievements.
Brett Callaghan is the founder and managing director of Totally Barbados. I specialize in writing content for the tourism industry for my island home of Barbados. I help companies build strategies to grow their businesses online with SMART marketing, advertising, and social media goals.