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Sir Garry Sobers visits Windies camp ahead of England series

 West Indian cricket legend Sir Garfield Sobers watches the first day of the second Test cricket match between Sri Lanka and the West Indies at the P. Sara Oval Cricket Stadium in Colombo on October 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ Ishara S. KODIKARA (Photo credit should read Ishara S.KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — West Indies were treated to a surprise special guest at their training session on Saturday when legendary all-rounder and former skipper Sir Garry Sobers paid them a courtesy visit.

The 82-year-old icon, rated around the globe as the greatest cricketer the world has ever seen, was on hand at Kensington Oval as the Windies continued their preparations for the Wisden Trophy Test Series against England which bowls off here Wednesday.

He met the team as a group and also had one-on-one discussions with some of the players. Left-hander Darren Bravo, who is making a comeback to the Test side following 27 months on the sidelines, said he was delighted to see Sobers.

“As a little boy growing up in Trinidad my father would always talk about Sir Garfield Sobers and the amazing things he did on the cricket field,” Bravo said.

“I would listen and it was obvious that from the way he spoke I knew he was a fantastic cricketer. Whenever I’m in Barbados I try to see him and speak to him. He was a great player and always has time to offer advice and knowledge.

“We’re here preparing for this Test Series and to have him take the time out to come and spend time with us is truly wonderful. We really thank him and want him to know we appreciate what he’s done for us.”

Bravo’s counterpart, Shai Hope, one of the region’s best young players, said it was a honour to listen to words of wisdom from the country’s National Hero.

“Sir Garry is an awesome person and it’s always great to see him and have him around,” Hope said. “He has tremendous presence and you can learn so much from just listening to him as he speaks and shares his knowledge of the game and especially how to go about your batting.

“Having him join us today is an inspiration. It’s the kind of thing that can give you a boost ahead of a game and a series. It’s always an honour to be in his presence. He has vast knowledge and experience and we are happy he took the come and speak with us.”

During his playing days, Sobers set several records and broke many barriers. He represented the West Indies in 93 Tests, scored 8032 runs with a highest score of 365 not out against Pakistan in 1958 — his maiden Test century.

At the time, it was the record for the highest Test score and stood for over three decades. He also took 235 wickets with his mixture of left-arm fast-medium bowling and left-arm spin.

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For many years the West Indies team ruled the cricket world, playing undefeated in a Test series for over 15 years. Recently the West Indies team has suffered several losses but with the emergence of new high-calibre players the future for the West Indies cricket team looks very good!

West Indians are passionate about their cricket, quick to cheer when the team performs well but also quick to criticize a poor performance. Thousands of West Indians always turn out to watch their team play .... and hopefully win!

Cricket is seen as a unifying force in the West Indies, bringing together players (and supporters) from across the region. This gentleman's game has brought considerable exposure to the islands of the Caribbean, with the West Indian cricketers being remembered not only for their incredible talent and skills but also for their deportment and sense of fair play.

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