Comment: Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town -- Shhh ... here’s a quiet little
poser: might the Proteas yet be willing to make room for an ageing “mercenary”
with a healthily smoking gun in their plans for and ahead of the ICC World
Twenty20 in Sri Lanka later this year?
I refer, of course, to a certain Herschelle
Herman Gibbs, presently playing with a rare level of consistency and sparkle
for Perth Scorchers in the not insignificant environment of Australia’s Big
Gibbs was pivotal for his Western
Australian franchise once more on Saturday, his innings of 71 off 46 balls
providing the foundations for their semi-final triumph over the Shane
Warne-infused Melbourne Stars – already guaranteeing their ticket to the
lucrative annual Champions League T20 event.
The Scorchers will now play Sydney Sixers
in the final at the WACA on Saturday, meaning in-form Gibbs will square up to
old former international adversaries Brett Lee and Stuart MacGill.
The Cape Cobras favourite -- still
contracted to his hometown franchise although he has become something of a T20
tournament journeyman -- turns 38 in February, but appears to have found a new
lease on life in the Big Bash, where he is the tournament’s second-highest
Gibbs has lashed 302 runs from only six
matches at an average of 50.33 and strike rate of 152.52, including four half-centuries:
he has not “failed” in any of his last five knocks, managing a score of at
least 38 and usually considerably more each time.
Cricinfo described him as the “driving
force” behind the Scorchers’ innings of 174 for three in the semi, until his
dismissal in the 17th over.
The larger-than-life customer earned the
last of his 23 T20 international caps for his country in May 2010, at the last
ICC World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, and admittedly had fallen prey to erratic
performances at the top level.
There may also be a suspicion in some
circles that Cricket South Africa have rather washed their hands of the veteran
now, especially given his chequered disciplinary record and some slightly
tawdry revelations about his personal life in his much-discussed autobiography,
shadow-written by Steve Smith.
But a stronger emphasis gradually falls on
T20 activity now in this year of the international get-together – the Proteas
will play three matches in that format against New Zealand on their away tour
which starts next month – and the resurgent claims of Gibbs cannot summarily be
National selection chief Andrew Hudson
basically confirmed as much to Sport24 on Monday, albeit with a slightly
guarded: “We will never write off any cricketer; all franchise cricketers are
considered at every selection meeting.”
One known fact about Gibbs is that when the
mood grabs him he is still in that valued club of batsmen truly capable of
“taking a game away” from the opposition.
He also has the advantage of increasingly specialising
in the Twenty20 arena, making him ever wiser to the specific pressures and
demands of the code.
Although I would be reluctant to put too
much dosh on it, perhaps a Proteas recall is not as far-fetched as it may have
seemed a few weeks ago?
*The Big Bash final will be screened live on
SuperSport (SS2) at 10:30 on Saturday.