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Sachin rare, says Sobers
- It was a delight to be punished by gary: bishan singh bedi

Mumbai: It was supposed to be a felicitation function for the victorious Indian team of 1971, but throughout the evening the spotlight stayed firmly on former West Indies captain Sir Garfield Sobers.

Sir Gary, on Thursday evening, showed that he was not only a master at wielding the willow and hurling the red cherry, but also a mesmerising raconteur.

Sobers, the chief guest at the gala ceremony to celebrate the 40th anniversary of India’s series wins in the Caribbean and England, narrated with how he taught Wes Hall to handle the spin trio of Bhagwat Chandrasekhar, Erapalli Prasanna and Bishan Singh Bedi.

“We were six or seven down and in comes Wes to bat. Chandra is ready to bowl when Wes walks up to me and says, ‘Captain, I cannot read him’. I say, ‘Tell me something new! If Kanhai, Butcher, and others can’t read him, how do you think I will expect you to read him’.

“Then I told him that I will watch Chandra’s hand and will put my bat to the right if it’s a googly. So, Wes plays some shots and Chandra is looking, ‘Wes Hall! Reading me?’

“And then, later, Chandra bowls another googly and I don’t move my finger. Wes goes for the cover drive, and the middle stump rolls.”

Sobers also recounted his six sixes in an over off England bowler Malcolm Nash.

“Believe me, I never played for records. Six sixes were not in my mind. It was just the situation. We were looking to make a declaration… But after five sixes, a record in itself, I knew I had to go for it.

“And later when we were walking to the pavilion back I saw Malcolm smiling. I said, ‘Malcolm, why are you smiling?’ He said, ‘Gary, you couldn’t have done it with me’.”

Sobers praised Sachin Tendulkar who was among the audience. “Sachin, you are rare,” the 73-year-old legend said addressing the world’s leading run-getter.

The West Indian legend also relived the final moments of the first ever tied Test, between Sir Frank Worrell’s West Indies and Australia in 1961 and also of his knock of 254 against a tearaway Dennis Lillee while leading a World XI team Down Under in 1977.

Bedi spoke of how it was to bowl to Sobers: “It was a delight to be punished by Sobers. I am grateful to have played during his time, just as I had wished to bowl to Bradman and Tendulkar.”

Later, the members of the 1971 team presented an autographed bat to Tendulkar. “It’s our blessing. May he keep batting for many years to come,” Wadekar said.

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