Gibbs gives food for thought

2012-01-23 13:48
Herschelle Gibbs (Gallo)
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 Bash League.

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 run-scorer.

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 dismissed.

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.


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