Sir Garfield (also known as Gary or Garry, as the man himself signs) Sobers played for the West Indies cricket team form 1954 -1977 and is considered one of the games great all rounders. His legendary status was secured on 31 August 1968 when he was the first player to hit six 6s in one over of a first class match, captaining Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan in Swansea.
A prolific scorer, but not a great signer. I was keen to obtain a Sobers sig.
I remember discussing this with the great New Zealand opener Glenn Turner, who knew Sir Garry and played in a few invitational XI teams with him. He told me, it just wasn’t in his DNA. While others gladly accommodated the fans, he ignored them. And so, the story begins. Bear with me.
The West Indies were touring New Zealand in the summer of 1994/95. The second and final test match was at Wellington’s Basin Reserve. Glenn was part of the commentary team, alongside one Joseph ‘Reds’ Perreira, the Caribbean commentating icon.
Glenn contacted me to say Reds was a close friend of Sir Garry and could get his autograph on my sketch. All I needed to do was get it to Glenn at the venue. First problem: The West Indies knocked over the Kiwis early, winning a close match by an innings and 322 runs. Reds left for the airport before the courier (who was delayed – but that’s another story) could deliver my package. A kind cricket official raced it out to Wellington airport in time to catch Reds before his flight to Australia. That was 13 February 1995.
In April 1999, I received my sketch, signed by Sir Garry and the attached letter from Reds, which explained the reason for the lengthy exercise. It was a long innings, but well worth the wait.