In the recent years the craze for One-Day and T-20 cricket has increased immensely. Test cricket is somewhat losing its aura. Nobody is interested to waste a day completely watching batsmen digging it out against some world-class bowling. People are more happy to sit down and watch a T-20 match rather than be bored by a Test Match.
Naturally, since the priorities have changed, the demand for a utility player is more than just a batsman or a bowler. Players who can bat as well as bowl a bit, or someone who can bowl and bat a bit, or someone who has awesome fielding skills along with his batting or bowling skills are nowadays known as utility players and they are in more demand than a traditional batsman or bowler.
The question which often arises nowadays is: Who were some of the players who could have been utility players in their own era? A name that will strike everyone’s mind immediately will be that of the great Sir Gary Sobers. He was an aggressive middle-order bat and was an exceptional chinaman bowler. His fielding skills too were outstanding. Sobers perhaps could have been the best utility player had T-20 or One-Day cricket got introduced during his time.
Not many of us are aware of the fact that Sir Gary Sobers had once featured in a One-Day match, which incidentally also happened to be his last One-Day match. He was included in the 1975 World-Cup team but decided to back out at the last moment due to a groin injury and was replaced by another legend, Rohan Kanhai.
On this very day in 1973 Sir Gary Sobers played his only One-Day innings. The southpaw came out to bat when the West Indian score read 132-4 and perhaps one of the most attractive knocks of that match had been played. Sobers came out to bat after the departure of another debutant Clive Llyod, who played a swashbuckling innings of 32 runs.
Sobers faced the first five deliveries from Chris Old sensibly before edging one to the wicket-keeper Taylor. Expectations were high from him but disappointment was all that the spectators had. Sobers did return the favours to Chris Old by cleaning him up with a beauty but couldn’t save the match for the mighty West Indies. England had won that match by 1 wicket.