Submitted by William Skinner
There is, or at least was, a picture of Sir Garfield Sobers, in the hall of the Bay Primary School, located in Bayville that most of us will recall was once called Bay Land. The striking aspect of the picture is that Sir Garry is standing there with bat in hand it and appears to us that he is batting slightly outside the leg stump. In other words, all of his stumps are exposed. Many young boys have stared at this picture for years trying to figure out how Sir Garry could “move so fast” to avoid his stumps being uprooted. In those days, we argued whether that stance was genuine or if it was done merely for the cameras.
This photo, for me, began a fascination with this great man which has grown throughout the passing years. As a frequent visitor to one of my greatest friends Mike, who lived in Walcott’s Avenue, Bayville, I actually grew up knowing where Sir Garry lived and as time went on, I got to know his mother, sister and brother. So in my little way, I felt extremely honored to tell people, up to this day, that I not only attended the same school as Sir Garry but knew where he lived and could easily identify members of his family including nephews and nieces.
However, it was an encounter with an Indian gas station owner in The USA that drove home the admiration that others had for Sir Garry. After my purchase, the gas station owner asked me where I was from and my answer elicited the response: “You from Barbados; that is where Garfield Sobers is from.” The ensuing conversation went on for almost twenty five minutes. When I told him that I went to the same school as Sir Garry; knew where his family home was and has seen him driving around and actually had very brief conversations with him, the gentleman acted as if I were Sir Garry! He enjoyed the conversation so much that I had to decline his offer to give me back the money I paid for my gasoline. For him, having met somebody who had the slightest real connection to Sir Garry, was almost as good as meeting the great man himself.
I drove away from that station, very proud to be an old bay Primary boy and grateful that one of my best friends lived on the same avenue as Sir Garry. Throughout the years, when I related this story to others from any part of the world, the esteem in which Sir Garry is held has always amazed me. I am also of the opinion, that we have never truly utilized or recognized the greatness of this humble extremely pleasant and polite National Hero.
He is perhaps the only sports man whose exceptional talents have not been surpassed by any in his sport and who remains unchallenged as the greatest all round cricketer to have ever played the game. It is therefore fitting that the government has included Sir Garry and the attainment of his eightieth birthday in our fiftieth independence celebrations.
Sir Garry has walked with Kings and Queens but has never lost the common touch. The entire Caribbean region has not produced any citizen who has displayed such excellence, in his or her chosen field, and whose talents have not been surpassed.
Happy birthday, Sir Garry.