The Day Garfield Sobers Watched Me & Z/Yen Play Cricket, Lord’s, 30 June 2009

It hardly seems possible, but there is Garry Sobers and there are we Z/Yen folk too, this photograph and all those that follow in this piece with thanks to Monique Gore

Sadly, I never got to see Sir Garfield (“Garry”) Sobers play live, in person. I saw one or two performances at the very end of his career on the TV – I remember avidly following the first test of the 1973 series between England and the West Indies – but never live, in person. In his pomp, he was surely one of the very greatest all-round cricketers ever.

Even more sadly/ironically/inappropriately, I am here to report that Sir Garfield Sobers has suffered the indignity of watching me and the Z/Yen team playing live, in person, at Lord’s.

It happened like this.

Middlesex County Cricket Club had very kindly offered me a Lord’s box for a day of County Championship cricket, as a thank you for some pro bono work I was doing with the club at that time. I decided to organise a Z/Yen awayday to take advantage of the box, including booking out half of the Lord’s Cricket Academy for a couple of hours. Of course Z/Yen had to pay for everything other than the box, so it was quite an expensive freebie in the end, but well worth it.

Linda’s e-mail to the team sets out the itinerary for the day:

As the day is approaching, I thought you should have an itinerary of the Z/Yen Away Day to Lord Cricket Ground (Home of Cricket) on Tuesday, 30 June 2009.

9.30-9.45 Arrive at Marylebone Cricket Club, Lord’s Cricket Ground, London NW8 8QN.  Map:  http://www.lords.org/findus.html

10.00       Lesson and game with James Fielding

13.00       Lunch at the Sir Pelham Warner Restaurant retiring to Tavern’s Stand, Box E to watch Middlesex V Surrey

16.30       Afternoon Tea

In the end our lesson and game was mostly organised by Jamie Thorpe, not James Fielding.

Jamie Thorpe helping Becky to sort out her protective gear, which seemed to take longer than her actual cricket session…
…then Jamie tried to work on Becky’s batting technique. At no point did any of us hear Jamie say, “stick to the flute, Becky.”

I had told Richard Goatley (then Deputy Chief Executive of Middlesex) about our plans. He told me he had a meeting that morning but it should be finished in time for him to pop round and have a look at us in the Academy.

What Richard didn’t say in advance was that his morning meeting was with Garfield Sobers and that Richard had resolved to try and bring Sobers along with him.

What Richard didn’t know in advance was that he and Sobers would bump into the legendary former Middlesex player and coach, Don Bennett, while on the way to the Academy to see us.

Richard picks up his side of the story from there:

I can remember…
…you were bowling in a bandana.
When Don Bennett saw your first ball Don said, “oh Jesus, I’m done” and started to walk away.
Sobers said, “cmon Don, watch a little”, but Don left pretty quickly afterwards.

The photographic evidence suggests that I was indeed bowling in a bandana…
…quite possibly at Jez…looks straight enough…

I’d have had Don Bennett know that I once took a hat trick with my slow right arm “filthy but straight” bowling at school.

Anyway, Sobers was a far more discerning observer of Z/Yen cricket than “The Don”…or at least far more polite, as he did stick around for a good twenty minutes or so; longer in fact than Richard Goatley.

Then Sobers watched the youngsters who were playing in the other half of the Academy for a while, then at the end of it all stuck around for the youngsters and then us to have photos taken with him. What a delightful gentleman he is.

All the Z/Yen folk who played that day…
…then a few of us also photographed with Garry Sobers. Magic.

All of the photographs from the day can be found by clicking here.

Richard Goatley still likes to milk this story and frankly so do I. Having Garry Sobers watch us play is one of those very special cricketing memories that I shall never forget.

The rest of the day was very special too, as reported in this – click here – separate Ogblog piece.

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