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Home > Cricket > World Cup 2003 > Interview > Herschelle Gibbs

'There will two or three more upsets'

February 17, 2003

There are many exquisite sights in cricket but a Herschelle Gibbs cover drive surely should be up there among the best. The position of the head and the foot, the arc of the backlift and the follow-through are all designed for those watching the game from somewhere, up above.

Herschelle GibbsYet, Gibbs, the freeflowing artiste, is different from Gibbs, the person. On the green, there are few peers, as New Zealand realised with his 143. Off the field, he has a led a colourful if sometimes controversial life, resulting in his brief suspension from the game in the wake of the matchfixing controversy.

The 28-year-old, whose last book read was the TV guide for most of February, has now authored 'Herschelle - A Biography'. In conversation with Assistant Editor Faisal Shariff, Gibbs talks honestly about the unpleasant instances of the past and his own future as the heir apparent of Jonty Rhodes. Excerpts:

A biography at 28! Why?

It was my father's idea. I still haven't asked him why? But I thought it would be a good idea since there have been a few instances these last few years which the media have reported and the public wants to know more about. The ins and outs of it all. Hopefully, they will get a better idea by reading the book. It gives a fair idea of my background, where I grew up, and my records over the last six years.

Does it worry you, raking up the past again with this book?

I don't look too deeply at life. Some of the mistakes I have made have made me a stronger person although I have always been quite the bubbly sort of guy, never worrying too much about them. But they have taught me a few things about life. I think I have another 7-8 years of cricket left in me and who knows I might make a few more mistakes again. That is life. I am a 28-year-old trying to achieve something in life. How you achieve it is something each one has to decide on his own.

What is your batting philosphy, if there is one?

My batting philosophy is controlled attack. That, for me, has been the key of the last two years. I have been tight and disciplined. I have worked a lot technically on my game. But I am still very aggressive. I attack but I am firmly in control.

Your father called you an entertainer.

I firmly believe that the people who throng stadiums and watch us on television deserve to get their money's worth. Prince Nazim Hamied in boxing is an entertainer people love to watch. He also loses a lot but even when he loses people enjoy the spectacle of seeing him. I believe that in one-day cricket people love to come and watch runs being scored. I am not someone who can play for myself. It is not in me. I have never been brought up to play like that. Attacking is the way I like to play and people like it. I like to carry on entertaining.

Redemption time. Is this book an attempt to achieve that?

Not really. As I said it was not my idea. I was happy to oblige my father, and it fired back since I had to sit for hours with Colin (Bryden, the author) and get the book done. If the book wasn't written it would not have made a difference to me. As I said, some of the stories involving me over the last few years need to be explained in greater depth. People like to know what goes on during tours. I am giving them a chance to read the truth.

You are the only cricketer who got away with a slap on your wrists despite being involved with the match-fixing episode. Do you consider yourself lucky?

Before the verdict was known that I was going to be banned for six months I was very worried. It was not a nice feeling to not know where you are going. I was happy when I was only banned for six months. I was still playing and I was happy about that. I still want to carry on in that fashion. There isn't a reason why I should not be happy that I got another chance. All I wanted to do was entertain the people.

Do you blame Hansie for what happened? Or do you blame your naivety?

If he hadn't approached me, nothing would have happened. So, as much as he was to blame I was to blame too. To this day I won't point a finger to him because we were both in it together. No grudges.

Is there any bitterness against Hansie?

I don't hold any bitterness against anybody. I see it as being part of life. People make mistakes but because we are in the public eye, they will always point fingers at us for who we are. That is my perception of the public. I don't look too deeply into it. People make mistakes. They don't know why they make mistakes. In hindsight you can look and say why. If you don't make mistakes you don't become a better person and you don't mature.

How did it feel when Hansie apologised to you?

After he testified in court, I went up to him and told him that he should not worry about anything because I accepted his apology. To me it wasn't the end of the world. It was just the kind of person I am. When you make mistakes you pay for them. It was important that he got his life back on track. I knew I was going to.

Did Steve Waugh really say what has been attributed to him after you dropped that catch in the semifinals of the World Cup in England in 1999?

No, from what I can remember the first time I heard of the story ("Son, you just dropped the World Cup) was in the press conference after the game. He didn't say anything to me; even if he did say something I didn't hear anything on the ground.

Was the catch dropped more out of arrogance?

I just went through a period where I was so confident of catching the ball that I almost took it for granted that I would catch the ball first. I probably did it too quickly and I have learnt my lesson. Whatever happened after that is history.

How do you see South Africa's chances in the World Cup?

We obviously haven't played good cricket. Our fate lies in the hands of one or two other teams. If we look back, we have only ourselves to blame. We are disappointed but who doesn't know that cricket is a funny game? We will need West Indies to beat Sri Lanka. If they come through at the end of the day you look back at how you played.

You are one of the coloured members of the squad. How does it feel to be in the national team knowing well that the scars of apartheid haven't been nursed completely?

It has never really bothered me. I am not one for politics. This country has grown over the last 7-8 years and there is enough unity amongst the people. I don't concentrate on these issues. I think people of all nations and races should be allowed to play. Some people might be bitter about how the past has treated them but that is not my problem.

Do you enjoy your reputation of being a bit of a Casanova?

I am just a friendly sort of guy who just enjoys his life. Men enjoy women and it is always nice to get to know them and that's the way man will always be.

Don't you think the South Africans regard this World Cup as an Australia versus South Africa one? Has that played too much on your minds to take other sides lightly?

A lot of people said that to me and I told them that this World Cup is not going to be a two-way race. There are a lot of dangerous teams, there have been upsets and we are disappointed with what has happened. But by no means is this World Cup a two-team race. We beat Sri Lanka and Pakistan here recently but these are teams that can beat Australia. It is a wide open tournament and I think there will be another 2-3 upsets.

With Jonty gone, you are the top fielder in the side. How does the new responsibility sit on your head?

Fielding plays a big part in the one-day game. But it also means that the bowlers need to land the ball in the right place for the fielders to stop the ball. We can build pressure that way and pressure can up the rate. That leads to wickets. Jonty's presence will always be missed and we will have to live with that. It will be difficult for me to fill his boots. The standard he set in 1992 will be hard to beat. There will not be another Jonty Rhodes in 20-30 years. I fielded with him for the past few years and some of the things he did you would think were not humanly possible. It will be a long time till there will be another Jonty Rhodes.

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Number of User Comments: 2

Sub: Hats off to Gibbs

A very frank and free interview. No hard feelings for Hansie. True that it will take two or three decades to produce another Jhonty Rhodes. ...

Posted by Y.Venkatanarayana

Sub: There will be 2 or 3 upsets.

Very well written article. Yes there are bound to be upsets and this world cup started with one like that where S.A lost to W.I ...

Posted by Vasudeva Reddy Hyderabad,India


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