Herschelle Gibbs

Born, February 23, 1974, Herschelle Herman Gibbs is a former cricketer from South Africa and is considered to be the best fielder to come out of the country after Jonty Rhodes. He made his international debut back in 1996 against Kenya in a One-Day International (ODI) match and went on to play for his country till 2010. He was also involved in the infamous match-fixing scandal in the year 1999 and was subsequently banned for six months. Gibbs is also known to be one of the most outspoken players of South Africa. On his birthday, Abhishek Kumar lists out 25 interesting things to know about him.

1. Early days: Gibbs was said to be a gifted sportsman right from his school days. He played rugby, soccer and cricket at school levels.

2. The famous catch dropped by Gibbs: In the super-six match between Australia and South Africa in ICC Cricket World Cup 1999, Gibbs dropped an easy catch at mid wicket. It was the last ball of 31st over bowled by Lance Klusener. Australian captain Steve Waugh was at the crease and he got an inside edge while trying to play shot on the leg side that went directly towards Gibbs. In excitement, he somehow dropped it while trying to throw it in the air to celebrate.

Later, Australia won the match as Waugh went on to score a century. Both the teams once again met in semis and that match was tied and on the basis of their previous encounter’s result, it was decided that Australia will qualify for final.

Later, it was being said that Waugh told Gibbs that “he just dropped the World Cup”, after he dropped the catch. Further, Australia’s then coach Geoff Marsh revealed that Shane Warne had already predicted about Gibbs’ habit of not holding the catches clean during the team meeting in dressing room and said, “Shane actually said if Herschelle takes a catch, stand your ground, because he doesn’t hold them. We laughed at him (Warne) in the team meeting, then he came out on the balcony and laughed at us. It was unbelievable – only Warnie could do that.”

3. The infamous match fixing saga: After South Africa toured India in 2000, Delhi Police charged Hansie Cronje for fixing his team’s ODIs for money on April 7 that year. Initially, Cronje denied the allegations but on April 11, he confessed his involvement in the activities and later on June 8, Gibbs admitted on accepting offer from his captain Cronje to make less than 20 runs in a match in return of $15,000. It is said that it was the fourth ODI in which Gibbs was asked to under-perform but he went on to make 72 and still they lost that match. After this, Gibbs was banned for the remaining year from international cricket.

4. Century in three back-to-back innings: In the year 2002, Gibbs scored three back-to-back hundreds against Kenya, India and Bangladesh. First two centuries came during the ICC Champions Trophy and the next one came when Bangladesh visited South Africa. He was the third cricketer to do so in ODIs and first South African. Later, in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015, his record was broken by Sri Lankan batsman Kumar Sangakkara when the latter hit four consecutive hundreds and became the only player to do so.

5. Nickname: Gibbs was given the nickname of ‘scooter’ and there is an interesting story behind it. “When I was 16 and couldn’t drive a car, the guys at Western Province joked that they would buy me a scooter,” Gibbs revealed during an event.

6. Marriage: Gibbs got married in the year 2007 at the Caribbean island of St. Kitts in a fairy-style wedding with Tenielle Povey. After a year in 2008, the couple got divorced and ever since, Gibbs has remained single.

7. The famous chase of 434: On March 12, 2006, Gibbs played the best innings of his career while chasing a humungous total of 434 scored by Australia at Johannesburg. It is the highest run chase ever made in history of cricket across the formats. Gibbs scored 175 runs from just 111 balls with 21 boundaries and seven sixes. It was the highest individual score by any player against Australia in ODIs till Rohit Sharma scored a double hundred against the Kangaroos in 2013.

8. Not interested in 200: When Gibbs scored 175 against Australia in 2006 while chasing 434, he could have easily gone for double century and become the first ever cricketer to do so in ODIs as more than 18 overs were left in the match. But he did not go for it and revealed the reason by saying, “I thought about getting 200 for about 20 seconds and then I thought, to hell with it. There were 19 overs to get those extra 25 runs, and I thought, if I get to 200 I can give it a smack after that. I would have been the first guy to get 200 there, but it did not really interest me,” said Gibbs to ESPNCricinfo.

9. Banned for second time: During the first Test between Pakistan and South Africa in January 2007, Gibbs made some derogatory racist comments against the opposition players which were caught on the mic. This led to his ban for two Tests.

10. Six sixes in an over: During the group match between Netherlands and South Africa in ICC Cricket World Cup 2007, Gibbs hammered six sixes in the 30th over of the match and became the first batsman to do that in international cricket. Previously, the feat was achieved by Gary Sobers and Ravi Shastri; in First-Class cricket though. When Gibbs hit six sixes in that over, the bowler at the other end was Daan Van Bunge.

11. Most sixes in World Cups: Gibbs last played a World Cup match in 2007 and before 2011 World Cup, the record for most sixes stayed with him with 28 sixes. After 2015 World Cup, this achievement was overtaken by his own teammate AB de Villiers with 37 sixes.

12. Part of ODI team of the Year in 2008: Following his good run in ODIs in 2007 with 880 runs at 46.31 in 26 matches, Gibbs was included in the ODI team of the Year in 2008 as an opener along with Sachin Tendulkar.

13. Funniest cricketer in the team: In an interview with ESPNCricinfo, Gibbs named Neil McKenzie as the funniest cricketer he has ever met and said, “He is just a fantastic bloke, a great team man, and I’m sure the lads at Hampshire would agree with that. He is exceptionally funny. Very superstitious, but his humour is second to none.”

14. On South Africa not winning a single World Cup title: Gibbs played for South Africa in three World Cup tournaments including 1999, 2003 and 2007 and described team’s failure for not winning the tournament in three words by saying, “Fear of failure.”

15. The ‘Clique’: Gibbs once called his four teammates ‘Clique’ that runs the team. The players were Graeme Smith, AB de Villiers, Jacques Kallis and Mark Boucher. “Boucher, Kallis and de Villiers were senior players and they were outspoken, so they assisted Graeme. Graeme was powerful enough to overrule Mickey [Arthur] a lot of the time,” said Gibbs when asked on the topic of Clique.

16. Arrested for drink and driving: On March 28, 2010, Gibbs was arrested during the morning hours for drink and driving in Cape Town. Later, he was released on bail of R500 ($63).

17. Autobiography: On November 1, 2010, Gibbs released his famous autobiography named “To the Point: The No-holds-barred Autobiography”, which sold its first print run of 15,000 copies in five days. It can easily be said as one of most honest autobiographies by any sportsman, as Gibbs was not afraid of revealing the dark side of South African cricket and his controversial life style as well. He revealed about his sex life, marijuana sessions and many more.

18. The famous chapter three: In his autobiography, chapter three is full of ‘women and booze’. Like an honest man, Gibbs revealed his controversial personal life when he was in his twenties, particularly on the tour to Australia in 1997-98 but did not mention the names. “I put it in because it’s something different readers can get from an autobiography. A lot of people said they enjoyed Andre Agassi because he talked openly about all his escapades in life. I did the same,” said Gibbs to ESPNCricinfo.

19. When South African board apologised to Gibbs: In December 2010, Gibbs’ national contract was terminated by Cricket South Africa (CSA) by mutual agreement as he violated his contract in various ways. One month before this, Gibbs had released his controversial autobiography which revealed many stories about him and others. But later, board apologised to Gibbs for prematurely terminating his contract.

20. The fast bowler against whom Gibbs struggled the most: Gibbs admitted in an interview with ESPNCricinfo, that it was Shoaib Akhtar against whom he struggled the most. He said, “Even though I enjoyed facing fast bowlers, his action made it really awkward. He wasn’t very nice to face at all – was awkward through the air and off the wicket. You couldn’t get any quicker than that. He always felt quicker than Brett Lee, though Lee was also as quick as hell, but his action was easier to track.”

21. Most difficult bowler to face in nets: Gibbs named the former South African legendary fast bowler Allan Donald when asked about the most uncomfortable bowler to face in the nets. He also revealed he was hit on his leg below thigh pad by Donald in one of his first net sessions for South Africa in 1996. Gibbs couldn’t walk for the next three days.

22. Privileged to share field with former West Indian: Gibbs felt privileged to have shared field when he got the chance to play for Lashings along with former West Indies great batsman Viv Richards in the same team.

23. Favourite country to tour: In his playing days, Gibbs preferred playing in Australia and West Indies any time, especially the beach cricket.

24. Favourite ground: The Oval and Wanderers are his favourite venues when it comes to playing. It was the same ground of Wanderers where he scored 143 against New Zealand in World Cup 2003.

25. Keen golfer: Besides cricket, Gibbs loves playing golf and he would love to have Tiger Woods, Viv Richards and Christiano Ronaldo for four-ball companions.

(Abhishek Kumar is an aspiring cricket statistician and reporter with CricketCountry. He can be followed at @abhik2593.)