An Evening with Sir Gary

I only saw Sir Garfield Sobers play once - in a charity match at The Oval in 1982, when he was an ageing but still brilliant 46 - but it was a privilege to see him discuss his views on the game and answer questions at Blundell's School, in Tiverton, Devon, last night.

Sobers cut an impressive figure, upright and smartly dressed, with a hint of a paunch but the same loose-limbed gait that used to take him to the wicket or back to his mark in his playing days.

In conversation with the former Glamorgan and Sussex batsman Tony Cottey, Sobers revealed a wide range of views, some of which surprised slightly. For example, he felt that Ted Dexter was a better batsman than Peter May (May was vulnerable to the short ball) and Ian Chappell was better than his brother Greg (less style but more grit). Fred Trueman was the best fast bowler he faced. He always knew Lara would be a great player and it's very unlikely that anyone will beat his Test record score (that one was less of a surprise). Among contemporary players there were admiring words for Tendulkar, Kallis, Ponting and Murali, who doesn't, according, to Sir Gary, chuck the ball.

The only part that didn't really work was an over-extended anecdote about batting with Wes Hall against Chandrasekhar in India, but most of the audience - including a good many lads who weren't born until twenty years after he retired - didn't notice as they were hanging on his every word.

Of course, Twenty20 came up, and Sobers came across as a concerned traditionalist - he preferred Test cricket but wondered whether it would be around in twenty years' time.

After a plug for his youth tournament and a marathon autograph-signing session he was gone, into town for a Chinese meal and on to his next engagement.

An evening to remember.

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