Limited overs won’t help Bermuda’s progress Sobers

  • Sir Gary Sobers

    Sir Gary Sobers

West Indies legend Gary Sobers believes Bermuda’s cricketers will never reach their full potential being fed an exclusive diet of limited overs cricket.

The standard of local cricket has noticeably eroded in recent years with many attributing the gradual decline to Bermuda Cricket Board’s (BCB) decision to do away with open cricket.

Local cricket’s governing body scrapped the open format prior to the 2001 ICC Trophy in Canada and attempts since then to reintroduce it to the domestic programme have proven to be both unsuccessful and widely unpopular among players.

But there are many, such as Sobers, who reckon that the longer version of the game is essential to the development of players especially at grassroots levels.

“The overs game is something that you must have, but it must never take over Test or proper (open) cricket because that is the one where you can judge your players and see who is who,” Sobers told The Royal Gazette. “Limited overs cricket can’t produce anything as far as I am concerned.”

Unlike the shorter variations of the game, open cricket enables aspiring players the opportunity to learn how to build and pace their innings under less stressful conditions and bowl for longer spells which in turn helps them to become better bowlers.

As it currently stands, cricketers in the BCB’s youth leagues are only subjected to limited overs cricket, something many claim hinders their early development.

”Twenty20 and 50 over matches are a good game but not really cricket as far as I am concerned,” Sobers added. “It is not really cricket, it’s a game where you’ve got big hitters and people who just want to go out and play ten overs and hit 50 runs.

“It doesn’t matter if they get out or whatever happens and it’s not really going to produce proper cricketers for the future.”

To this day Sobers is regarded as one of the greatest all-rounders of all-time.

During a 20-year span playing for the West Indies in the Test match arena the iconic cricketer amassed 8,032 runs at an average of 57.78 and a high score of 365 not out, which previously stood as the world record before Brian Lara surpassed it in 1994.

Growing up as a youngster in his native Barbados, Sobers nurtured his batting skills and footwork playing with tennis balls, something he firmly believes today’s grassroots players can prosper from as well.

“I’ve always believed in cricket the kids between the ages of seven, eight, nine, ten and even older should be using softer balls like tennis balls to help them develop their skills,” he said. “That’s what we did as youngsters coming up.

“It helps you get behind the ball and gives you a movement that becomes permanent later on because you know you are not going to get hurt with the ball therefore you know can get behind it. And once you get that movement it becomes automatic even when you play with the hard ball because the movements are there.

“I believe that this is a kind of thing that we should be still trying to do with youngsters around that age; trying to develop them and not scare them although we do have these helmets and other things that come into the game, which makes it a lot safer for kids to play with harder balls.

“I believe that the best way has always been with the tennis ball to help to develop in the right way and give them the opportunity to play on their own will and be able to move without all of these helmets and arm guards and I don’t know what else. Cricket today looks like somebody going to Mars.”

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Published Dec 30, 2011 at 8:35 am (Updated Dec 30, 2011 at 8:32 am)

Limited overs won’t help Bermuda’s progress Sobers

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