West Indian cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers admitted despite the riches T20 cricket gives, he would still choose to play test cricket if he played today.
Sobers, who scored 8,032 runs and took 235 wickets in 93 test matches, believes test cricket provides crowds with unique entertainment.
The all-rounder, who was also captain of West Indies between 1965 and 1972, wants cricketing authorities around the world to do whatever they can to improve spectator numbers for the longest form of the game.
“To me test cricket is still the utmost. If I had to choose to play a game, it would be at the highest level, which is test cricket,” said Sobers.
“T20 and 50 overs are good, but tests give you entertainment of a different sort and that should be kept for people who know the game,” he added.
Sobers – pictured above – was always thought of as a cricketer who entertained whenever he was on the field, with fantastic fielding, batting and bowling capabilities.
The 82-year-old once hit six sixes in an over from left-arm spinner Malcolm Nash in county cricket for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan in 1968, and he is confident his way of playing would still work in the modern day.
He said: “I would have still kept my approach the same. Doesn’t matter what form of the game, I played in a similar way. I would size up situations and I know what some of these situations call for. I have never changed my game from one to another.”
Sometimes, Sobers’ approach brought criticism from pundits as they accused him of being selfish and playing for records in the game. Yet, he now says he never thought of anything other than trying to help his side win the match.
“I would look at the set up and the strength of our team and try and apply those skills to that particular game. I have always tried to assess the situation and see how I can impact the game. I don’t think I ever played a game for me.”
While acknowledging the tremendous change in cricket over the years, Sobers still struggles to understand the lack of patience shown by current batsmen.
“Why don’t they consolidate? You can be patient until you’re on top of the bowling and then accelerate but that seems to not be part of their thinking.
“They finish up losing all their wickets for a very small score and there is no real thinking in terms of how they are going to approach it,” Sobers explained.
Sobers was hugely respected by his peers and admired by legends of the past. Sir Donald Bradman, widely considered the greatest batsman of all time, said the 254 Sobers scored against Australia for the Rest of World XI in 1972 was the greatest innings ever played in Australia.
Sobers recalled his battle with Australian bowling legend Dennis Lillee and to him, a moment at the end stood out.
He said: “When I got out on 254 and I passed Dennis he looked at me and he applauded. He said to me, ‘I’ve heard about you and now I’ve seen you.’”
Sir Garfield Sobers was speaking at the World Travel Market held at the ExCel in London, where he has been coming for more than 30 years.