Professor Henry FraserArchitecural Historian / Heritage Consultant
Chairman, Sentinel Committee, Barbados National Trust
Writer, TV Presenter, National Orator & Motivational Speaker
Professor Emertius, Medicine and Clinical Pharmacology.
Immediate Past Dean, Faculty of Medical Sciences.
University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados.

 




SIR GARFIELD SOBERS – NATIONAL HERO, NATIONAL ICON

No one has brought Barbados more to the attention of the world’s thinking population than Garfield St. Aubyn Sobers, the greatest all rounder in the history of cricket, and for everyone in the cricket world except Australians (and perhaps even for many of those hero worshippers of Sir Donald Bradman) widely regarded as the greatest cricketer ever.

Garfield Sobers was born in July 28th, 1936, the last but one of seven children.  His father, a merchant seaman, died when young Garfield was six, but family unity was strong, and he was “God-fathered” by another icon of Barbados, the legendary cabinet maker the late Lionel Daniel of Culloden Road.  By the age of eight, Gary and his brothers were busy organising local Bay Land cricket with home-made bat, ball and stumps, and arranging village tournaments! They played on the outfield of the Bay Pasture, the early home of Wanderers Cricket Ground, and Gary was in great demand as a very young teenager in the Wanderers nets, bowling fast or slow as required.  

The story goes that he was spotted at fourteen by Captain Wilfred Farmer, who recruited him into the Police Band, so that he could play first for the Police Boys Club and then the Police.  After two years of club cricket he was chosen for Barbados against India in February 1953 (aged 16) as a spinner, taking seven wickets and bowling forty maiden overs!  In 1954, at 17, he played his first test at Sabina Park, taking four wickets and scoring forty runs, signalling the start of an era – the Sobers era of West Indian World Cricket dominance!

Sir Gary’s extraordinary career has been a celebration of world records.  Numerologists will note that his world test record of 365 runs equals the number of years between the settlement of Barbados in 1627, and the year of his high accolade of Doctor of Letters from the University of the West Indies, celebrating this great monarch of the game. What more evidence do we need that he is indelibly part of the very origins, life and history of Barbados?  But some other numbers … he had the highest aggregate of runs ever in his 93 tests, a record exceeded later only by those playing many more matches, plus 109 catches and 235 wickets, ranking with the greatest specialist bowlers; and then there was his “impossible” feat of six sixes in one over!

The great C.L.R.James wrote: “Sobers is the greatest of living batsmen.”  John Arlott, doyen of cricket writers, described him as the finest all round player in the history of cricket, and Caribbean renaissance man, politician, cricket aficionado and craftsman of language, Michael Manley, wrote in his History of West Indies Cricket: “He was so great a player that one must be careful lest he obscure the history of events and the texture of the times … he was destined to shine like some great star alone in the firmament of his own genius.”  And in the book One hundred years of organised cricket in Barbados, 1892 to 1992, Sir Carlisle Burton, Ronnie Hughes and Professor Keith Sandiford wrote: “He became the complete bowler.  No individual in the history of cricket has been as versatile a bowler as Sobers at his peak.”


Henry Fraser Historic Houses Of Barbados Book CoverHistoric Houses of Barbados
Written by Henry Fraser & Ronnie Huges.
Available at all book leading book stores in Barbados.


Henry Fraser Treasures Of Barbados Book CoverTreasures of Barbados
Written by Sir George Alleyne and edited by Henry Fraser.
Available at the UWI Bookshop the publishers.


Henry Fraser Chattle House Book CoverBarbados Chattel Houses
Written by Henry Fraser and Bob Kiss.
Available at all leading book stores.


Henry Fraser A-Z Barbados Book CoverA-Z of Barbados Heritage
Written by Sean Carrington, Henry Fraser, John Gilmore and Addington Forde.
Available at Days Bookstore Barbados and Amazon.com


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