Rex Clementine, in The Island, 22 October 2015, where the title is “Sobers laughs,c ries,
Sri Lanka Cricket Chairman Sidath Wettimuny introduced Sir Garfield Sobers as world’s greatest all-rounder and the greatest story teller and the former West Indian legend proved why as he kept a packed audience spell bound for over an hour before the Sobers-Tissera trophy was unveiled yesterday.
The suggestion of naming the Sri Lanka – West Indies Test series after Sir Garry and former Sri Lanka captain Michael Tissera was put forward by former Tamil Union President Dinal Philips and SLC was quick to grab the idea. Sir Garry who arrived in Colombo on Monday addressed the media yesterday and discussed a range of topics from his playing days, night cricket and Twenty 20.
Responding to a query by The Island on the Big Three, Sir Garry quipped, ‘What is Big Three? and looked as if he knew only the Three Ws. But minutes later cleverly drove home the point when he said that countries like South Africa needed to have a larger say in governance of cricket.
Sir Garry also spoke of his coaching stint with Sri Lanka and added that when he left in 1983, he was convinced that the country will become a major force in world cricket in ten years. He added that it wasn’t a surprise for him that Sri Lanka won the ICC Cricket World Cup in 1996.
Wettimuny, who played under the former West Indian captain said, “With Sir Garry around, we felt like that we were behind a king. When I was in Australia, Gamini Dissanayake came over and said that he was going to England to apply for Test status. I was really excited,” Sir Garry said. “Sri Lanka had some quality players and Michael Tissera was one of them. I remember Sir Frank Worrell used to talk a lot about him.”
“When I came to coach in 1982, I was told about a young kid. Then I went to the ground and saw him bat and I was truly amazed about this boy’s talent. He is Arjuna Ranatunga,” Sir Garry added. “You had a very good coaching structure when I took charge. W.A.N. Silva had done a wonderful job as a coach. My job as coach of Sri Lanka was simple. It was to brain wash people that they can face fast bowlers without much trouble. Well, I knew they had the technique, perhaps they lacked self-belief.
A journalist asked Sir Garry whether he had heard about Mahadevan Sathasivam. “Well, I used to drink with him,” replied Sobers.
He was in tears when discussing the current status of West Indies cricket. “Twenty-20 has taken its toll. It has affected West Indian cricket more than any other nation. Countries like England have managed to control the amount of players playing the IPL. We haven’t been able to do that.”
“Twenty-20 is destroying world cricket. When we played, the only incentive we had was visiting countries like Australia, England and Pakistan. We knew if we did well, we had a chance to visit Australia. There was no money at that point. Today, the players know that the IPL is just around the corner.
Michael Tissera, who has held various positions at Sri Lanka Cricket over the last 40 years, was introduced by Wettimuny as a player whom he wanted to follow as a youngster. Tissera speaking at the event said that had there been more players like Sir Garry today there was no need for Match Referees or Third Umpires.