Gibbs a flawed genius

2008-11-11 08:31
Sport24 columnist Arthur Turner (File)
Arthur Turner

Herschelle Gibbs is a flawed genius who will sadly be remembered for his misdemeanours and not for the great entertainer he has been for South Africa, Western Province and the Cape Cobras.

Gibbs's international career is already under threat because of his age and all indications are that his Test career is over. Will this latest episode be the final nail in his international coffin?

Gibbs’s career has been a litany of problems that started in the West Indies in 1992 when he was a member of the South African Schools team and was nearly sent home for similar behaviour by the manager, the late Jackie McGlew.

Since then he has been involved with many incidents that have embarrassed South African cricket and himself. These include the Steve Waugh catch in the 1999 Cricket World Cup, the match fixing scandal, dagga smoking in the West Indies and many drinking incidents including recently being caught for drunken driving.

The question must be asked how long is a piece of string and for how long will Cricket South Africa be prepared to tolerate this behaviour.

This type of behaviour and attitude needs to be rooted out of the team. There are already question marks and perceptions after the England tour round the team’s fitness and Sports Illustrated carried a story about binge drinking during the last World Cup in the Caribbean. There are also unconfirmed reports that the former conditioning coach resigned his position because of these problems.

CSA and the team management need to rid the team of these negative perceptions once and for all, therefore, they need to take a strong stand on this issue.

Fantastic opportunities

He needs to be given an ultimatum that if he transgresses again he will play no further part in the national team. The national players’ are role models for the country and earn huge sums of money from the game, he needs to start taking responsibility for his actions. He also needs to respect the game that has created such fantastic opportunities for him both as a player and financially.

Duncan Fletcher, the former England Ashes-winning coach who coached Gibbs at Western Province in the 1990s, termed him a genius. Fletcher by virtue of his nature would not term a player a genius if he did not believe it. Also, not many people would disagree with his assessment.

However, when one compares Gibbs’s Test statistics to other players of his era, it tells a different story to Fletcher’s assessment. Gibbs in his career has played in 90 Tests and averages 41.95 compared to Jacques Kallis's 55.46 in a 123 Tests, Matthew Hayden's 52.72  in 97 Tests and Ricky Ponting 58.05 in a 122 Tests.

Gibbs has at least as much talent and probably more than all three of these players. However, the difference is that they are disciplined individuals both on and off the field, they are proud to play for their country and have a hunger to succeed that Gibbs does not possess.

Gibbs as a person does not have a bad bone in his body, but he is an eternal teenager and needs to grow up quickly. If this does not happen, I fear for his future, as we are undoubtedly seeing a human tragedy unfold.

Arthur is a former cricket administrator.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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