Talisman Gibbs sits out?

2009-11-24 18:11

Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer

Cape Town – In terms of recent Newlands one-day international history, it really ought to be a fait accompli that Herschelle Gibbs returns to the Proteas side for the vital third match against England on Friday.

But Tuesday’s press conference at the ground featuring South African coach Mickey Arthur left everyone none the wiser as to whether this will be the case.

Gibbs a gamble? Yes, of course the veteran stroke-player would be that.

But he is also exactly the sort of mercurial cricketer the Proteas arguably need urgently as they seek to pull back from a nasty little 1-0 deficit in the weather-compressed series.

And his ODI track record over the past few years at his beloved home ground is such that he really should come out to an expected full house for Friday’s contest.

South Africa, strangely misfiring at this relatively fledgling stage of the summer, have won all of their last nine ODIs at Newlands - with Gibbs featuring in the lot of them.

He has generally batted notably well during the glorious run, too, which stretches back to 2003/04.

Only once in that time has he failed to reach double figures, his average is just a fraction under 50 for the eight innings he’s played (he was not required to bat in a 10-wicket mauling of Pakistan in 2006/07) and he boasts scorching centuries against New Zealand (119) in 2007/08 and this week’s opponents England (100) in their last Cape Town meeting in 2004/05.

There is, of course, the issue of how to fit him in because Alviro Petersen and Hashim Amla - both fighting spiritedly to nail down regular ODI spots and cash in on the enforced absence of Jacques Kallis - got runs in what turned out to be the opening game of this series at Centurion.

Petersen, coming to grips with an especially unfamiliar personal role at No 5, registered a run-a-ball 64 and Amla, opening, struck a slightly more moderate-tempo 57 before getting out when perhaps he ought to have kicked on.

It would be bad luck if either missed the Newlands cut, but sentiment also ought not be allowed to cloud circumstance – the Proteas trail in the series because England made disconcertingly light work of chasing down 250 despite the competent showings of Petersen and Amla.

With their attack rather haemorrhaging, South Africa, in a nutshell, simply have to make more runs, and Gibbs replacing either of these players (Amla, more likely?) among the top five is this writer’s proposed route to that likelihood.

But Arthur was giving nothing away on Tuesday and, indeed, maybe even hinted that Gibbs will not crack the nod: “Hersch has obviously just come in as a replacement for Jacques,” he said. “A straight swap for swap.

“I’ve seen media reports and obviously there’s slight confusion: Hersch, if he plays for us, will bat in the middle order. Alviro is at five and he did unbelievably well (at SuperSport Park).”

If Gibbs’s strong Cape Town lobby were offered any hope, however, perhaps it came when Arthur reminded that Petersen is extremely familiar with an opening role for his franchise outfit, the Highveld Lions.

That might suggest that the Proteas are at least weighing up a front five comprising captain Graeme Smith and Petersen (with Amla thus the unfortunate fall-guy), followed by AB de Villiers, JP Duminy and Gibbs.

“Hashim has provided cover in positions one, two and three for over a year now, and done that particularly well when he’s had opportunities,” added Arthur, only deepening the intrigue.

“We think there could be a role for Hersch down the middle order at some stage. There’s obviously the experience factor with him, and we know he’s a quality player.

“But I think the guys who came in really did well. I was impressed with the energy of our new guys: Amla, Petersen and (Ryan) McLaren were exceptional, so I’m pretty sure they’ll get another run come Friday night.”

Once again, then, it seemed “disadvantage Gibbs” … and a good prospect that those rosy Newlands stats of his, and overall talismanic presence in an impressive sequence of triumphs, are going to be left in the pavilion for this one.


  • Kapo - 2009-11-24 18:39

    I agree with you Rob, Gibbs has a fantastic record at Newlands and it would be sad if he doesn't play. He's one of my favourite players in world cricket; i would like to watch him play for the Proteas few more times.

  • David - 2009-11-24 19:05

    427 for 9 vs Australia - enough said. He should play every oneday game, I cant believe its even up for discussion. Thats like debating if Ronaldo should be starting for Portugal

  • zander - 2009-11-24 19:10

    drop smith for gibbs.hell, why not make gibbs captain and see what happens.we need some bad boys at the top

  • kp - 2009-11-24 19:45

    drop Smith and get a bit of excitement going with Gibbs. If he's good he's fantastic, and on his off-day he's not there long enough to aggravate viewers.

  • viki - 2009-11-24 20:17

    Drop Smith, add Gibbs... its about time Smith needs to fight for his position. Albie needs to be out.. he has dissapointed with his bowling and his batting is none the better. Boy could we do with another Lance Klusener.

  • HW - 2009-11-24 21:14

    Agree with kp. If Gibbs comes off we have the game inthe bag. if he does not, he'll score a quick 30 runs and won't waste balls. Kallis is known for batting for himself in a number of one day games, often at the expense of the rest of the team. it appears that certwin players are untouchable and Gibbs has to constantly prove himself.

  • marco tomaso - 2009-11-24 21:17

    why can't we play loots bosman instead of me gibbs is useless and pass his best almost a waste of time.did anyone saw his attitube in the champions league in India when he got bowled out by Dilshan he smiled and showed a don't care attitude.we beat australia in australia this year without Smith and we can do it again.drop G Smith

  • Burgiesburnin - 2009-11-24 22:00

    I think that you have all missed the point. Its bowlers that the wilted proteas need. The last game was won by 7 wickets and one of the batsman out was KP. I dont know if he will go so cheaply again. His form may be rocky after such a long lay off but if he gets his eye in Colly wont even be required to bat. Gettin wickets stops the run flow. Steyn doesnt fire and you will be on the back foot early again. As for Gibbs, bats now and then and cant bowl. Smith bats now and then but at least bowls a bit, even if he is poor.

  • Sedick - 2009-11-25 00:30

    Drop Boucher as his batting is K%K - he could only finish in the past, and can't even do that anymore ...... AB can b the wickie..........Gibbs can bat at 5, Peterson @6 ..this would give the Proteas 6 top batsmen, with "1 hit per season" Morkel @ 7. They can then pick 4 strike bowlers. SA has always had too many allrounders in the team, and therefore no world trophies.......and they don't learn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lou - 2009-11-25 06:50

    I'm with Sedick on this one: Boucher should go, AB keeps. That gives us one additional spot for a batsman. Now you have options. Ideally we need Kallis because, with Albie, Kallis and the spinner they can cover 20 overs and three other top class bowlers for the rest. JP and Smith can throw it around one or two overs each. God knows what we do in the tests. Ntini might be past his prime but where do you get another bowler with his stamina? England must be fancying their chances.

  • Muriel - 2009-11-25 07:03

    Please would the coaching staff get their act together, stop dithering and let Gibbs play.

  • Z Boy - 2009-11-25 07:38

    Wow , i will be surprised if they drop Amla , i mean ab and duminny have not been performing , but they don't consider them an attack a guy who's performing . And Its the bowling thats the weak point not the batting, A new coach could possibly be the answer , Mickey is narrow minded , looks like nepotism is prevalent in SA cricket.

  • gugu - 2009-11-25 07:49

    cape town & newlands love gibbs!! he is the man to do it. why not let gibbs and bosman open the batting and drop smith to no 3. there was no spark in sunday's game, it was boring and frustrating to say the least. why cant the selectors get it right??? we will keep on losing games if the right players are not selected. this is serious sh*t. c'mon guys give us newlands crowd the game that we're used to. good luck for sunday!!!

  • Willie - 2009-11-25 07:51

    I agree with Marco. Play Loots Bosman. He has a future while Gibbs has a past. Amla is good but too slow. We need to get the momentum that we showed in the Twenty20 game. Our bowlers also need their backsides kicked. Steyn needs to understand that you can't do everything with speed. You cannot bowl a 16-run over at the tailend of an innings and say that you are a top bowler.

  • Navarac - 2009-11-25 07:53

    @Burgiesburnin Right on. Steyn is so intent on frightening the batsmen with his "terrifying" speed that he drops it consistently short - and at Centurion the ball sat up and said, "Hit me!". The bowlers also didn't use variation of pace. As for Biff - he still hasn't learned that a straight bat would improve his caught-behind syndrome. In general, our bowlers were pathetic in the 2nd ODI.

  • Bruce - 2009-11-25 08:52

    Gibbs is an inconsistent idiot who is living of past glories.

  • Jakes - 2009-11-25 09:15

    @ David dude not to be rude bro but it was 438 for 9 and Gibbs had an awesome and brilliant 175 of I think 100 odd balls So I would definitely play him on friday

  • warren - 2009-11-25 09:48

    I just can't see how gibbs can be an idiot seriously---He is all that we need for this arrogant english bowlers---just see what he did against mitchell johnson in the australian one day series-

  • THE BIFF - 2009-11-25 09:57

    How can anyone that knows anything about cricket even consider dropping Smith? Idiots. Sunday showed us again that if Smith does not get runs, the other batsman fails as well. At least Smith converts his 30 and 40 run innings into centuries. Gibbs is past his sell by date, long ago. There is no excuse for Loots Bosman not to play. He is in good form and can hit over the top in the first 15 overs. Boucher should join Gibbs at the retirement home. Get AB to keep in the one dayers and you have a spot to choose another batsman (or bowler). Smith, Bosman, Amla, de Villiers, Duminy, Peterson, Morkel A, van der Merwe, McLaren, Steyn, Langeveld.

  • Wiggle - 2009-11-25 10:04

    If Gibbs was lure to get the ground filled, the supporters should boycott the game - CSA should use a better marketing ploy. Just fire Mickey – the game is bigger then him and Kallis

  • GeePMB - 2009-11-25 10:15

    So Rob, your logic is flawed. Just because Gibbs bats well at Newlands, he now warrants a place therefore by association, a Guateng Player or KZN player who bats well at his own home ground, should be selected. when the taem pitches at the Wanderers or Newlands? Gibbs has an average of about 28 in his last few outings in the Proteas matches. Now he is touted as the saviour! The old adage continues, it's harder to be dropped from the squad than it is to get in. Bosman was the next obvious choice given his amazing T20 score and his wealth of runs in recent times. But Proccie and Arthur seem to only ever look at the highlights of 438 game (which if my memory serves, was NOT played at Newlands) and they see Gibbs' score and re-select him! I accept that he may well come in this week and blast a quick-fire 50 or 60 and his supporters will say "Told you so" but he is unreliable in the long term, we don't need quick-fix solutions. We are boring and predictable and that's because Arthur, Smith and Proctor wont take any risks... Sad really

  • Ray - 2009-11-25 10:39

    What in da name of cricket is Albie morkel doin in the side, as 1 guy said "1 hit per season" and his bowling has nutin to speak of. Droping Smith is crazy talk if he scores you know we goin to win. On the Gibbs issue id prefer loots bosman over Gibbs but i still prefer the stability Amla offers. I hope they forget their idea of playin 2 specialist spinners on home soil, cos as we know Duminy can bowl a full 10 if need be. What we need is four decent pace bowlers : steyn, parnell, langeveld and your choice of tsotsobe/ morne Morkel/ mclaren

  • keith - 2009-11-25 10:40

    why the hell is everyone on Gibbs' case? when was the last time that Albie got decent runs? he cant bowl properly but he's still in the team.Amla is a good test player,but he bats to slow in one dayers.Procter & co is useless and Athurs' got no brains, there was a long period when Smith scored no runs and he wasn't dropped plus he is a lousy captain but fortunately for Smith and Albie they are WHITE and therefore untouchable. So sad !

  • baron - 2009-11-25 10:43

    people cant complain about south african born players moving to play for other countries , this is work of transformation and not selecting on merit. Make no mistake jp duminy and players like him deserve to be in the sa squad. Go look at how kp was treated when playing for natal. it goes both ways

  • sticky wicket - 2009-11-25 10:44

    It has been said that our cricketers cannot "think out of the box" & are just too predictable. When changes need to be made in the batting order (e.g. bringing Albie Morkel in earlier) we stick to the 'ol "cast in stone" pre-game plan and just play out the match with a "what will be, will be" attitude, hoping at times that messrs D & L would be kind to us just ONCE should there be any sign of a cloud anywhere in the heavens in the vicinity of the grounds!! I am a Gibbs fan, but Loots Bosman played exceptionally well in the T20 game and surely he needs to get a chance to open with Biff? But the truth of the matter is, that even if our batsmen (n.b. NOT "batters" folks, even if it is not "inclusive language") were not too hot last weekend, and they weren't, our bowlers were really quite pathetic. None of them looked like taking wickets at any time as evidenced by their body language after a couple of each's respective overs yielded no wickets. If our spinners cannot operate in tandem as in the past with Johan being disallowed to bowl certain balls, why not bring Tsetsobe (how do you spell that name?) into the mix to operate with either Steyn or Parnell and leave Van as the 5th bowler? Charl is not match fit and Albie has done zip for some time now (each time he comes to the crease he looks like a deer caught in the headlights of an Oshkosh as he is expected to rescue the Titanic from yet another disaster), so perhaps he needs to be replaced by taller boet, Morne? If nothing is done to the current composition of the team, and in addition to the braintrust's inability to make "on the spur of the moment" decisions, I'm afraid our beloved Proteas can prepare for yet another mauling come Cape Town. Once we are 2 down in the One Day series there will be no coming back and unfortunately that same defeatest attitude will go with us into the test arena with similar results....Sad, really sad when coming from the recently rated No1 team in the world!!

  • carol - 2009-11-25 10:59

    i really think Gibbs should get a chance, it will also excite the crowds and people will flock to the stadium and u will sell more tickets and it will be a more exciting game, as it gets too serious and often can be boring. cricket needs excitement, and we can urge the player to play well. one gets behind them and it makes a big difference. I wish the teamall the best, and lighten up! Its a game.

  • KEITH - 2009-11-25 10:59

    GEEPMB, what is Albie Morkels' average for the last 10 outings for the Proteas? He is far more inconsistent than Gibbs, and he can't even bowl properly but he's still there, I wonder why.

  • Carol - 2009-11-25 11:02

    i really think Gibbs should get a chance, it will also excite the crowds and people will flock to the stadium and u will sell more tickets and it will be a more exciting game, as it gets too serious and often can be boring. cricket needs excitement, and we can urge the player to play well. one gets behind them and it makes a big difference. I wish the teamall the best, and lighten up! Its a game.

  • GeePMB - 2009-11-25 11:39

    @KEITH: I couldn't agree more mate, Morkel has done nothing either, again it's harder to get dropped than to get in unless the player is a fovaourite (like Gibbs) of the "Firm". I feel that our selectors are showing little faith in ANYone outside the main "clique" of players from the past few seasons. We also don't seem to have any "Plan B" when we lose the toss. It looked to me in the last game, that as soon as Biff lost the toss, he went into laager mode because he was hoping to bowl them out cheaply before the sun went down, it didn''t happen and suddenly he had no anwers while bowling under the lights. We are too predictable! There is no out of the box thinking from either the Skipper or his coach and selectors!

  • GeePMB - 2009-11-25 12:02

    Sorry, not "under the lights", but bowling 2nd on the drying pitch.. (My bad)

  • menace - 2009-11-25 13:56

    here is my selction for the team for the rest of the seriers. smith, peterson, AB, JP, gibbs, boucher,Tsetsobe, styen, charl, van der merver, Mclaren even play AB as keeper and get another bowler we need to take wickets...again we need wickets and with kallis not there and ablie having to bowl 10 they eat us alive. 250 was not a bad score but our bowlers did not bowl well to keep them under pressure. so the old days of all rounders are gone lets bring in the Specialist players for each Position. just on another note GET RID OF ABLIE !!!!!!!! and bring gibbs as the pinch hitter at least that what he likes and he can get going from ball one...he will do well in that role at 5 or 6. get AB to keep and we can get another bowler in!

  • coloured from ravensmead - 2009-11-25 16:35

    smith should not open the batting cause if he fails then most of the batsman after him fail and we dont win matches.all the successful ODI teams like australia,pakistan,sri lanka have their captain come in 3rd or fourth. and when will the man learn to hit spin?

  • Stealth - 2009-11-26 12:07

    'Sentiment also ought not to be allowed to cloud circumstance' 'despite the competent showings of Petersen and Amla'? Uve lost the plot Rob almost suggesting that it was the fault of these two batsmen that SA lost when they were the only two to score half centuries. Lets forget 'sentiment' and drop them rather then rewarding them with another game. Yes the unpredictable Gibbs who scores 10 in three balls and gifts his wicket away more often than not will save the day. Do we want reliable batsmen or fly by night alkies who perform only when they sober? Cheers Rob, take ur mate Gibbs for a drink and leave the batting to Petersen and Amla.

  • Larry - 2009-11-26 12:34

    @Zander/KP/Viki/HW, I totally agree. Drop the captain and let Gibbs & Amla open the innings. Its unacceptable that this Smith gets to choose the starting line-up and he never performs. To be honest & frank, dude doesn't warrant a spot in the Proteas squad period, very poor batting technique.

  • Stealth - 2009-11-27 18:17

    Amla 86 Peterson 51. Any 'sentiments' Rob?

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