T20 Domestic Cup

Gibbs 'more than just runs'

2013-03-31 12:04
Herschelle Gibbs (File)

Centurion - The Titans booked their place in Wednesday’s RAM SLAM T20 Challenge qualifier at Buffalo Park against the Warriors courtesy of four successive wins down the closing stretch, and go into the decider full of confidence.

One man who was instrumental in their success was Scott Styris, but the former New Zealand batsman is no longer available for the competition.

Titans coach Matthew Maynard was quick to take measures to replace Styris, though, and has signed former Proteas opener Herschelle Gibbs to help fire his team into the final against the Highveld Lions.

“Obviously Scott Styris played a big role for us in the middle-order, and we were looking at a way to keep our side as strong as possible,” Maynard said on Saturday. “I spoke to Herschelle prior to the tournament, but he was obviously recovering from his hamstring (injury) at that stage. Then I spoke to him again this week and he said yes.

“I worked with Herschelle at Glamorgan, and I thoroughly enjoyed what he brought to the table in terms of his knowledge of the game, his skill with the bat and his ability in the field, so it’s great to have him on board.”

Gibbs boasts a wealth of T20 experience, having completed 162 matches at top-class level, and he has appeared in competitions such as the Friends Life T20, the Champions League T20 and Australia’s KFC Big Bash. He has amassed 28 fifties and a century in that time, and, with a strike rate of 125, he poses a potentially lethal threat to the opposition.

“Everything he does is 100 miles per hour. He’s got loads of energy and is obviously still a top fielder too. He moves like a 20-year old - not a man who is in his late thirties. He reminds me a lot of Viv Richards in that sense. The impact he can have on the dressing room is also a factor as well, because he’s an incredibly positive person, and I believe a great signing for us at this stage of the competition,” Maynard added.

Yet Gibbs has not played competitive cricket since his last outing for the Perth Scorchers on January 16, and some inconsistent performances in the Big Bash might suggest he is something of a wildcard at such a crucial stage of the competition. However, Maynard is not concerned over issues of form, and believes the 39-year old brings more to the table than just runs.

“His form doesn’t concern me at all. When you are a player like Herschelle, you’ve probably hit 70 000 balls in your career. So the fact that he hasn’t played in a couple of months doesn’t concern me. He won’t have much to think about - just a see it and hit it philosophy. Sometimes a break can work very well,” said Maynard.

“To be fair, it’s tough to expect him to come in and strike an 85 off 50 balls. If he did do that, it would be very nice, but I signed him because of his energy in the field, his impact on the dressing room and his ability with the bat. It’s a lot more than just runs - it’s more about the character. And he has a lot of character. He’s used to winning tournaments and he’s used to being in finals.”

The winner of the qualifier will also earn a place in the lucrative Champions League later this year, and there will be plenty to play for come Wednesday evening. However, the Titans coach believes his players are keeping their nerves in check, and is looking for his charges to make a good start when the game gets underway.

“The guys are pretty chilled over the weekend. We have a net today and on Monday before travelling down to East London on Tuesday. I’m sure there’ll be some nerves around on Tuesday morning when we arrive for the match, but we’ve got a group who really know their games. And we know that if we play to our potential, it’ll be a very close game down there in East London. I believe whichever side starts the game best will have a great chance of coming out on top,” Maynard concluded.


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