Gary Sobers is the greatest: Ravi Shastri

Gary Sobers is the greatest: Ravi Shastri

Sir Gary Sobers
Cricketing greats Sir Gary Sobers and Ravi Shastri at a cricket memorabilia auction. (Photo by SEBASTIAN D”SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

Former India all-rounder Ravi Shastri recorded many feats during his successful cricketing career. But the six sixes that he hit against Baroda’s Tilak Raj will be that one achievement that most remember and is a standout aspect of his career.

The reason why the six sixes in an over is so special is because he emulated the legendary West Indian all-rounders Sir Gary Sobers’ own majestic feat. In 1968, Sobers became the first batsman ever to hit six sixes in a single over of six consecutive balls in first-class cricket after he smashed Glamorgan’s Malcolm Nash for six consecutive sixes.

The former Team India director was invited to be part of a festival match between Sir Garry Sobers XI (led by Carl Hooper) and the Brian Lara XI (captained by Lara) which is organised by the Barbados Cricket Association and the 50th Anniversary of Independence Celebrations Secretariat.

Shastri, however, was preoccupied to fly down. “In 139 years of Test cricket, Sobers is the greatest cricketer ever. It’s as simple as that. In a 93-Test package, he averaged 57.78. Now that is something. Then you have his 235 wickets and 100-plus catches. It’s quite incredible.

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“Along the way, during these 139 years, you had the Tendulkars, Bradmans and other greats. But Sobers was the greatest — a true match-winner. He must have influenced 60 out of his 93 Tests,” Shastri said.

Shastri recalled how, once, Sobers was demonstrating some shots while speaking to him and Ian Chappell about how he was essentially a back foot player.

“He was showing us how he would play and while he did that, I looked at the great man’s feet and how they moved as he was playing the ‘shots’ and I told Ian to watch those feet.

“This was around 1998, so Sobers was well into his 60s and it was at two or three in the morning. It was quite remarkable,” said Shastri.

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Another occasion when Shastri was astounded by Sobers was when he asked him during commentary whether he enjoyed batting at No 3 or No 6.

“Sobers said he enjoyed batting at six because it was a challenge and he believed he would get a hundred or even a double hundred with not much support at the other end — maybe with half a batsman and three bowlers,” revealed Shastri.