Gary Sobers in Ceylon … and then the Lankan Sobers: Pictorial Tales

Gary Sobers was a cricketer extraordinary: a mercurial fielder in any position, a batsman punishing as well as elegant and several bowlers rolled into one arm. As a left-arm spinner he could weak the ball several ways …… but when required could bowl fast-medium swing. When Dennis Lillee made the mistake of hurling bouncers at Sobers, the man Gary warned Lillee: “Hey, man, don’t forget that I can bowl bouncers.” And he did. He bounced Lillee to kingdom come.

sobers in action Gary Sobers in sweet strike sobers wild Sobers in slashing square cut hit with zest

Sobers in Ceylon in the 1960s

1. Satha greets Sobers

28.Heyn at sea Sobers’ spin leaves David Heyn in a spin- at the Oval – Pic by Chandi Chnamuagam

Sobers in Sri Lanka in the 1980s Sobers greeted by Duleep Mendis and Roy Dias when he arrived in Sri Lanka in the early 1980s to serve as coach — Pic from Lake House

C03 SL Aussie TeamsKandy (2)Sri Lankan and Australian teams at Asgiriya, Kandy before their first Test encounter. The Late Gamini Dissanayake is seated centre next to David Rutter (Australian ambassador) who has Grreg Chappell to his left. Roy Dias is seated on the extreme right, while the late David Hookes is on the extreme left. Dennis Lillee is standing 9th from the right (or 9th as left as you face the image).  Sidath Wettimuny is standing 6th from the left. Arjuna Ranatunga’s figure is unrecognizable for those who know him today.  The officials seem to have hogged the front row in ways that would not be tolerated nowadays! ….. This is a rare photograph kindly donated to me by David Rutter of Adelaide. If someone can identify all those pictured here, it would be appreciated. … with thanks to cousin Lukie for photo-shop refinement.

For other images of Gary Sobers during his coaching stint in Sri Lanka, visit Michael Roberts, Essaying Cricket. Sri Lanka and Beyond, Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2006, Figs, 38-43. … ISBN 955-1266-26-9 hb via

The lively career of Garfield St Aubrun Sobers (born 1936) can be found at It includes his batting and bowling graphs. He captained the West Indies from 1965-74. Earlier, when he played for South Australia after the 1961 tour, he had an enormous impact on attendances, causing an 89% increase with gate receipts rising “by two and a half times”.[ He topped both the batting and bowling averages at South Australia, his best performance being against champions New South Wales at the Adelaide Oval when he scored 251 and took 3/51 and 6/72.

In 1970, captaining the Rest of the World XI against England, he took 6/21 on the opening day of the First (unofficial) Test at Lord’s with pace bowling, the ball swinging and seaming at high speed. He then scored “a magnificent” 183 and helped bowl out England in the second innings using his left arm wrist spin.[In the Fourth Test at Headingley, Sobers scored 114 and 59 as his team won by two wickets.[Following the Rest of the World series, he outraged many in the West Indies by playing in a friendly double-wicket tournament in Rhodesia in September 1970

In January 1972, in the Third (unofficial) Test between Australia and the Rest of the World XI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Sobers played an innings of 254 which was described by Don Bradman as “probably the greatest exhibition of batting ever seen in Australia”.He reached his century in 129 balls and after a rest day, reached 254 in 326 balls. It was “one of the most magnificent innings seen on the Melbourne Cricket Ground” and his “superb display of forceful cricket” lasted 376 minutes and included two sixes and 33 fours.

Like the famous (and infamous) Satha, as well as Miller and Compton, before his time, Sobers was twinkle-toed on the dance floor and swept women off their feet. Not surprisingly he had a lively life off the field. WIKIPEDIA notes: “Sobers was briefly engaged to Indian actress Anju Mahendru after he met her on the 1966–67 tour of India.[75] He married Prue Kirby, an Australian, in September 1969. They had two sons, Matthew and Daniel, and an adopted daughter, Genevieve.[77] The marriage ended in divorce in 1990 after the couple broke up in 1984;[78] however, Sobers acquired dual Australian citizenship through marriage in 1980. He says that his was a multi-sporting family who were all good at football, basketball, table tennis and tennis.[79] His own favourite sport is golf and he has been an enthusiastic gambler.He is the author of a children’s novel about cricket, Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade, in which computer analysis helps a university cricket team become unbeatable.[

PS: Wikipedia fails to mention his coaching stint in Sri Lanka. Tut! Tut!

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Felicitation of Sir Garfield Sobers by Sri Lanka Cricket

PublishedAdd to on Oct 29, 2015

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  1. Pingback: Sobers as Lethal as Amiable: A Bajan Man Extraordinary | Critiquing Cricket

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