Colin Bryden

Herschelle gets it wrong

2010-11-01 15:27
Sport24 columnist Colin Bryden (File)
Colin Bryden
I haven’t yet read the new Herschelle Gibbs book but the extracts published over the weekend make depressing reading.
I wrote a book about this exceptionally talented cricketer back in 2003 and he was surprisingly forthcoming – given that he was then at the peak of his career – about some of his escapades.
At the time I thought they were mainly the product of youthful exuberance, laced with extraordinary naivety.
The enhanced versions read like the sordid revelations of a 36-year-old who has yet to grow up, who has seemingly managed to avoid taking responsibility for his own life.
What Herschelle will do with himself when his cricket income dries up – which it surely will very soon – is hard to imagine.
He does not appear to be qualified to do anything outside cricket and he has probably blown any chance of finding sheltered employment within the game.
I always thought that he would be able to play a useful role in helping and inspiring young cricketers but given his excesses I cannot imagine any responsible cricket employer wanting him anywhere near impressionable youngsters.
I also wonder whether he is being completely honest in describing the infamous agreement to throw his wicket away for less than 20 runs, in exchange for $15 000, in a one-day international in India in 2000.
In the new book he apparently states that he had second thoughts and told Hansie Cronje so. That will be news to anyone who sat through his testimony at the King Commission.
It is also completely at odds with what he told me when I was writing the 2003 book. He told me how he looked across at Cronje in the dressing room before the game “and we both had these little grins on our faces” as they thought of their conspiracy.
His saving grace was that he scored so quickly that he was past 20 in a flash. Anil Kumble dropped a return catch, which Gibbs thought was when he was on 18 but actually happened when he had 27, and used this as an excuse to Cronje for not keeping his part of the deal.
Far from having told Cronje before the game that the deal was off, as he now claims, Gibbs told the King Commission that when the captain came out to join him at the crease, he asked Cronje what was going to happen because he had scored too many runs.
The benefit of an extra seven years may have given Gibbs a clearer recollection of what happened ten years ago or else he has conveniently rearranged the facts in his own mind.
He will have to hope that his sordid story will make enough money to compensate for the loss of reputation and cricket-related earning capacity, not to mention the loss of the friendship of former teammates, that are the likely consequences.
Colin Bryden is a former cricket correspondent of the Sunday Times and current editor of the Mutual & Federal South African Cricket Annual.

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