When West Indies great Gary Sobers became the first players to hit six-sixes in an over he would never have imagined the piece of red leather he flayed to all corners would create controversy forty-five years later.
by BIPIN DANI.
The ball sold at Christie’s for a world record £26,400 in 2006 was a Duke rather than a Surridge and therefore not the genuine article according to Graham Llyod, the British author, who in his new edition book-Howzat? has traced the journey of ball from England to India via Nottingham, London, New Delhi, Faridabad, Chester and back to Faridabad.
Speaking from England, the author Lloyd says, “BBC Wales TV footage of the over is a key part of my evidence because it confirms Malcolm Nash’s assertion that he bowled one ball at Sobers – and not three as claimed by Christie’s”.
“After reviewing my material and re-investigating the sale, Christie’s still insist the ball is genuine and Nash now wants his place in cricketing history to be accurately acknowledged”, he added.
It’s a fascinating tale that’s not really about cricket – to quote the foreword by Matthew Engel, a former Wisden editor: “It is about the real people who play the game, watch it, love it and cling to it. It is about the mysterious business of collecting. It is about the strange and glamorous world of the international auction houses. Above all, it is about the most important and intriguing subject that any writer can tackle: human nature.”
Lloyd’s 18-month investigation, Operation Howzat?, reveals that:
- Although Sobers signed a certificate of authenticity to verify the ball, he didn’t profit from its auction at Christie’s. The former West Indies and Nottinghamshire captain describes himself as a “very innocent bystander” but his former agent, Basharat Hassan, has admitted receiving nearly £4,000 from the sale – and not telling Sobers about the payment.
- After the ball’s withdrawal from a sporting memorabilia auction in 2012 by Bonhams because of what they described as Lloyd’s “compelling and conclusive” evidence, Christie’s have now re-investigated the 2006 sale but stand by the ball’s original “good provenance” and the “signed certificate”
Gary Sobers, when contacted, refused to comment on the controversy.
He has toured UAE, Sri Lanka, Morocco and Malaysia, to name a few, and contributes to a large number of newspapers in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
His twitter bio reads: Eat cricket stories, drink cricket stories, sleep cricket stories.