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Sir Garry’s innings


Kenmore Bynoe

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It was truly a Knight to Remember when 35 years of knighthood for Barbados’ lone surviving National Hero, the Right Excellent Sir Garfield Sobers, were celebrated with a gala dinner and tribute on Saturday night at the gymnasium of the Garfield Sobers Sports Complex.When one combined good food, fine entertainment, a pantheon of West Indies cricketing greats – including two knights  and five captains – two legends who captained Australia and India, two Government ministers, the who’s who of sports and business in Barbados along with more than 600 of Sir Garry’s friends and fans, it was understandable why applause was still ringing out in the Wildey area after midnight. If everyone in the gym could have been somehow rejuvenated, then West Indies cricket would dominate  the world again with the likes of Sir Vivian Richards, Clive Lloyd, Brian Lara, Seymour Nurse,  Cammie Smith, Maurice  Foster, Peter Lashley, Courtney Browne, Wes Hall, Charlie Griffith, Joel Garner and Courtney Walsh, among those celebrating the occasion.The West Indies would then have to decide who to omit  and then how to contend with two of their most loved/hated opponents, Sunil Gavaskar  of India and Ian Chappell  of Australia, who were also  part of the audience paying tribute to the greatest  all-rounder of all time.Fast bowling giant Reverend Wes Hall opened the night  in inimitable style, describing  Sir Garry as the Moses of West Indies cricket. Waxing poetically and forcing listeners to “Google” many of the words he used  to describe Sir Garry’s genius, Hall said he was “the most unforgettable character whose generosity knows no bounds”.“Garry’s love, humility  and ability to forgive made him  a fine ambassador for Barbados, the West Indies and cricket generally,” Hall added.Hall and the other speakers, including noted international commentator Tony Cozier, Sir Vivian, Gavaskar, Chappell, Lara and Sir Garry’s son Daniel who had conceptualised  and executed the event, captivated the audience with their take on his well-documented exploits.The little master from Bombay, Gavaskar, spoke of the pride he felt when he first toured the West Indies and was on the same field as Sobers; while Lara thanked Sir Garry for taking an interest  in him from 13.“Sir Garry, you are  a legend. You are a man  of genius!”, said Lara.Personifying the humility and generosity described earlier, Sir Garry, in his turn at the podium, thanked those who had spoken and explained how they had impacted his life. He also thanked God for allowing him to enjoy the accolades of his friends and fans  and for allowing all of his five siblings to experience good health. Sir Garry also disclosed that he could have been the first West Indian to play professional football in Britain.“In 1960 I was offered  a trial as a goalkeeper for Everton. Football is played in winter in England and  I could not even deal with the summer, so could you imagine me in England in the winter playing a game in short pants?” Sir Garry asked to peals of laughter.

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