On the anniversary of the ‘greatest one-day international cricket match of all time’, key players involved in the 438 match reflect on Herschelle Gibbs’ near-miss.
As part of Cricket Australia’s look-back, Australian Mike Hussey and South Africans Makhaya Ntini and Shaun Pollock recall how star batsman Gibbs was supposed to be dropped for his antics the night before.
‘We were staying at the same hotel as the South Africans and we went out for dinner quite early, and Herschelle was just sitting in the bar,’ said Hussey.
‘He was well on his way then, and when we came back two hours later, he was still sitting in exactly the same spot, and he was all over the place. That was at about 10 o’clock. And I remember before going to bed, looking down from my floor and he was still down there, yelling and screaming and calling out stuff. And I thought far out. It was a day game, so we were up early the next day …’
Makhaya Ntini adds: ‘The good thing was it was inside the team hotel. But he was drunk.’
Hussey continues: ‘[Proteas coach] Mickey Arthur tells the story that they found out about it the next day, and Mickey and [captain] Graeme Smith wanted to drop Herschelle from the team then and there. But they didn’t have a replacement batsman, so they said to him, “This is not on, you’re playing today because we’ve got no one else, but next series you’re going to be punished for this because this is ridiculous.”‘
Shaun Pollock missed the game due to injury but recalls: ‘Herschelle was our naughty boy of South African cricket. When people would get into trouble, we’d often get fined and that would go into a team kitty and we would have meals on the back of it. Herschelle paid for his fair share, that’s all I’ll say. But I had no idea. I went to the ground early to do a fitness test, so I wasn’t on the team bus with the rest of the team. I remember after failing my test, I was pretty dejected because I wanted to play. I just sat out the front of the rooms and when the guys came and did the warm-ups, I didn’t see him out there.’
‘At least they batted second so maybe he had a little bit of time to sober up. I think he’s said in the past, if they’d batted first, he might have been in a bit of trouble,’ adds Hussey.
Gibbs would go on to top-score with 175 as South Africa chased down 438 at the Wanderers to win the series 3-2.
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