While some might beg to differ albeit for me the true test of potential only comes to the fore in the purest form of cricket, the pinnacle of the gentleman’s game – Test Cricket.
No wonder it is called Test Cricket, as it truly tests your potential matched with mental toughness and physical ability.
Speaking about potential, a past legend of West Indian cricket, Sir Frank Worrell once said of a player who he captained “There’s no end to his infinite potential!”.
The player, this icon, one among the three legendary Ws of West Indian Cricket was referring to was non-other than the man himself, Sir Garry Sobers.
Yes, this revered Caribbean all-rounder had potential aplenty which was perfectly blended with the two words that defined his cricket, purpose and intent and what one witnessed as a result were performances that dreams are made of.
Four years since his debut in 1954, a young Sir Garry at all of 22 was yet to make a century as the elusive three figure mark was still in transit to hit this icon’s accolades. Well, when it did in 1958 against Pakistan it wasn’t just any century but a mammoth 365, as the great man battled it out on the field for a marathon 614 minutes.
Such was the treat one witnessed then, as the legendary southpaw plundered the Pakistani attack boasting the likes of Fazal Mahmood, Khan Mohammed and Abdul Kardar to all parts of Sabina Park with a mouth-watering 38 boundaries in his innings.
A breath-taking knock that made him the first triple centurion for the West Indies, till it was broken by none other than his country man, Brian Charles Lara with his 375 against England more than three and a half decades later.
Truly a befitting man for Sir Garry to pass on the baton to.
The year 1958 was also more than gratifying for this Barbadian as he mounted a gigantic milestone of almost 1300 runs that year with a massive six tons to his name.
His career batting stats were also as solid as they come, mounting more than 8,000 test runs with an average standing at a whooping 57.78 with 26 centuries and 30 half-a-tons. A conversion rate north of 90 percent in getting a ton whenever he reached the first milestone of a fifty.
At a time when players are happy with batting averages in the 40s, the Barbaric Barbadian’s batting average of 57.78 was the fifth highest for all batters having scored more than 5,000 runs.
If this isn’t a cherry to cherish, I truly don’t know what is?
When it came to piling on the big runs, Australia and England were his favourite bunnies as he soared to efforts unparalleled against these timeless foes, plundering more than 1500 runs against the former and 3500 plus runs against the latter.
Well, ask the great Brian Lara and he would whole heartedly agree that there is something about the Caribbean land wanting to always be on top of the nation of ‘Her Majesty’!
Talking about the other discipline, what defines an all-rounder are not only his batting accomplishments but also his bowling feats.
When it came to Sir Garry Sobers and his bowling exploits, the slow left-armers mixed with some wrist spin and at times resorting to military medium earned this GOD of Cricket, a dynamic 235 wickets with six 5-wicket hauls.
Again, England and Australia were at the receiving end on the 22-yards as he picked up a mammoth 62 and 33 scalps against them respectively.
A bastion of batting, a beacon of bowling and a man’s man in humility made Sir Garry Sobers not only a remarkable all-rounder on the field but also one off it too.
As I end this piece, it completely makes my day to wish this brutal Barbadian a happy 85th.
Kindly also make time for our special podcast on Sir Sobers