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Wednesday, 08 June 2016
The cricketing community at Bolton School was thrilled to welcome Sir Garfield Sobers, widely regarded as cricket’s “greatest all-rounder”, who gave a lunchtime address to an enthralled audience. Master of Cricket, Andy Compton, offered a “great Northern welcome” and spoke of being delighted and honoured to welcome this incredible left-hand bat, great bowler, athletic fielder, leader of men and outstanding captain. Mr Compton said he had seen no equal to him in his lifetime. He also pointed out that Sir Garfield managed to hit it just as far and just as hard in the 1960s as modern day batsmen do with bats twice the size. He also praised him for his great modesty and humility.
Garry Sobers played Test cricket for the West Indies from 1954-1974, amassing 8032 runs and building an average of 57.78, he also claimed 235 wickets over 93 Tests. He was the first player to hit six sixes, which he did in 1968 playing for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan. He was knighted in 1975.
Looking dignified and healthy as he near his 80th birthday, Sir Garfield said: “I am speechless after all these things you have said about me, thank you for such a wonderful welcome.” He thanked the School for taking part in his tournament and recalled how it began back in 1987 with 11 teams taking part: six from England, three from Trinidad and two from Canada. He said the competition had always been aimed at English schools and that about 140 teams had taken part over the years; it was good to see that numbers entering was gradually increasing again. He felt the tournament offered a great learning experience for boys, where they will develop their skills and friendships whilst gaining experience of playing in different playing conditions. He felt the competition helped different countries as they look to produce the next generation of cricketing talent. He spoke highly of the current England international team and remained hopeful that the West Indies team was gradually improving. He recalled when he first came to England and looked out from the balcony at Lords and asked colleague Everton Weekes “where is the wicket?” who responded “you will learn”. Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s cricket was played on uncovered wickets and Sir Garry reflected on how this had helped him develop his game. He played every year in England from 1957 to 1975 and ended up in Lancashire playing as professional for the nearby Radcliffe. He also commented on how 20/20 cricket had been good for the sport as it brought in the audiences and attracted women to the game but he thought 50/50 cricket was better and that Test cricket was still the ultimate challenge.
Sir Garfield was at Bolton School to thank the school’s cricket team which will take part in the Sir Garfield Sobers Cricket Tournament as part of its tour of Barbados from 10-25 July 2017. It will be the school’s fourth tour of the West Indies but the first time in Barbados and in this competition. Sir Garfield explained that about 20 teams from around the world take part each year in the competition and he could recall watching Brian Lara, another West Indies legend, playing in the tournament and seeing what great potential he had. Dale Benkenstein from South Africa had also cut his teeth in the tournament as had Alistair Cook, the current England Test team captain.
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