Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Harmison Could Be One of the Greats ( Sobers

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Harmison Could Be One of the Greats ( Sobers

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Sir Garfield Sobers graced Durham's Riverside for the first time last night. Chief Sports Writer Simon Rushworth talked cricket with the world famous West Indian.

Still an imposing presence 30 years after playing his final Test, Sir Garfield Sobers does not suffer fools gladly. Clearly tired of coming up with solutions to the current malaise affecting his beloved West Indies and not wishing to be drawn into a debate on the pros and cons of the modern game, there is little room for manoeuvre when facing the legendary all-rounder.

Just ask Malcolm Nash. As Sir Garfield sized up the first question which came his way, before swatting it to the Riverside boundary with typical gusto, it was easy to imagine how that young Welshman felt the day he was smashed for six sixes in one over in front of an awestruck Glamorgan crowd.

Even the most innocuous of verbal looseners was met with a steely gaze and a deeply considered response. Asked to proffer an opinion on local hero Steve Harmison, Sir Garfield ( or Garry as he prefers to signs his famous name ( initially played the straightest of bats before opening up to suggest greatness beckons for the Ashington Express.

"It's always difficult to judge a bowler over one series and England's tour to the West Indies was the first opportunity I had to take a close look at him," said the softly spoken Barbadian. "He did bowl extremely well and did a magnificent job in the West Indies. He did everything that was asked of him. His line, length and balance was perfect and he adapted well to the Caribbean conditions. All I can say is that Harmison looks like a bowler in the making.

"If he continues to progress at the current rate then there is every chance he will be remembered alongside the world's best bowlers.

"I know people have suggested that his style is typically West Indian but what is that? I never categorise bowlers in that way."

Sobers' style is typically confident and forthright, as befitting an individual with 28,315 first class runs and 1,043 first class wickets to his name. How the Windies, humiliated on home ground by England this winter, could do with Sir Garfield now.

As Harmison will testify, Caribbean cricket is in a state of disarray despite Brian Lara's record- breaking return to form in front of a capacity Antigua crowd. Sobers, reluctant to reveal his true feelings on the fall of the West Indian game, nevertheless refutes the widely held opinion that the sport's demise is a result of the rise of rival sports.

"I live in the Caribbean and I haven't seen the supposed conflict between cricket, football and basketball," he added.

"In fact I believe there's more cricket being played in the West Indies at every level and the popularity of other sports is no reason for the demise of our national game. …

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