Sobers: Without T20, West Indies would have folded up

"In the West Indies, it is very difficult to criticise the players, who want to play the IPL because most of them come from very humble backgrounds. And, if they find an opportunity where they can better themselves, and for the betterment of their family, then you can't blame them for that," says Sir Garfield Sobers.

Sir Gary Sobers with Devika Bhise during a private function in Mumbai.

When the world’s greatest entertainer and all-rounder Sir Garfield Sobers – who at the age of 15 began playing the game first for a Barbados club, Penny Hole, and went on to play 18 Test matches against India from 1958 to 1971 – met Ajit Wadekar at the Taj Chambers on Sunday evening, the only question he asked India’s 1971 captain was: “When are you going to invite me again to India?”

At the outset, he said he loves India and its people and would like to come again and again. Eight months away from turning 80, Sir Gary met some of his old friends like Nari Contractor, Madhav Apte, Farokh Engineer, Nottinghamshire colleague Dilip Doshi, and also Karsan Ghavri, Dilip Vengsarkar and Kenia Jayantilal. Sobers was attending a private function hosted by his friend Bharat Bhise, Founder and CEO, Bravia Capital, and Swati Bhise to celebrate the Hollywood movie, ‘The Man Who Knew Infinity’, which is a biopic of the celebrated Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan.

Promoting a film

Sir Gary has endorsed the film and he was warmly received at the 46th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) in Goa. At the two-hour function presented as ‘An Evening of Genuis’, Devika Bhise (who acted

as Janaki, wife of Ramanujan – Dev Patel – in the movie), raised the topic of being a genius with the famous cricketing icon and everyone was surprised with his response.

Sir Gary’s interaction with Devika Bhise

On being a genius: I don’t know much about genius. They keep telling me that I am. I don't know what I have done, how I have become a genius. All I know is whatever I have achieved, I have achieved

through, I believe, the ability I was probably born with. I believe geniuses are born with ability. And ability alone doesn't work. You have to work hard to make it work. You don't have to work as much as the other person who does not have the same natural ability.

Furthermore he said with a sharp and clear mind: “I think that is where I have probably capitalised, because as a young boy growing up, I used to have many spectators. If you think that when I made 365 and made the world record score, breaking Sir Len Hutton’s 364, then I had spectators? No. When I was 13 and 14, I had a lot more spectators. I think geniuses are born. I don't think they are made. They have to recognise what they have and they have to work hard to achieve whatever they want to achieve. Nothing is given to you on a platter. I have known a lot of players I have played with. They had the ability, but did not recognise that they not only had the ability, but they were geniuses. And they thought everything will fall into place. No. You have to work hard. Once you have done that, you will achieve."

Changes in cricket: It’s very difficult to make an assessment of those things that has changed cricket. Of course, there’s got to be changes. I think some of the changes are for the better. I believe that the players, who are playing the game should be able to accept what they think is right and what is wrong. Like in the West Indies, it is very difficult to criticise the players, who want to play the IPL because most of them come from very humble backgrounds. And, if they find an opportunity where they can better themselves, and for the betterment of their family, then you can't blame them for that.

I also believe that it's a good addition for the game of cricket for many countries. Without Twenty20, West Indies cricket would have folded up because when we have Test matches on, we have nobody to come and watch the game.

But one of the most admired cricketers added: “I think the changes have been good, but the players have to learn to know how to accept and never to forget their countries because Test cricket will always be the utmost and they should always strive to be better at that. Once you are good in that situation, you will be able to produce results.

"If you work hard, you will be able to perform and you will find that your country will also benefit. Players these days are retiring before their time to retire, because their whole idea is to go and play in the IPL. I can't blame them. They pay well and one doesn't know how long they will be in the game of cricket. When you see an opportunity where you can help yourself, and then by all means do that. But look at the game in its right perspective. And I believe that in time to come, a lot of players will recognise that Test cricket is still the No. 1 cricket in the world and Twenty20 is entertainment."

To be continued...