Former Proteas all-rounder Justin Kemp remembers Herschelle Gibbs’ six sixes in one over in 2007, some individual consolation in their semi-final defeat and more, writes JONHENRY WILSON.
South Africa occupied first position in the ICC’s ODI rankings at the start of the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies. Kemp was accompanied by fellow seamer all-rounders Andrew Hall, Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock in a powerful Proteas squad.
‘I came into the World Cup squad with a lot of all-rounders in it – and we certainly had a lot of good bowlers. There were a lot of guys doing the job. I do, though, feel I didn’t bowl enough at that World Cup. Although I was batting at five or six, I would like to have bowled more. If you looked at my career in those years, I’d bowled quite a lot – and I could have done more at that World Cup with the ball,’ Kemp told SA Cricket magazine.
South Africa’s campaign started with a dominant victory over the Netherlands at Warner Park in Saint Kitts and Nevis, where Gibbs walloped leg-spinner Daan van Bunge for six consecutive sixes.
‘Against the Dutch, in our first game of the tournament, we were obviously all sitting together when Herschelle was striking all those sixes. We knew there was quite a substantial cash incentive for anyone who could hit six sixes in an over, so when Hersch had hit that poor Netherlands bowler for four sixes, we knew he was in with a big chance,’ added Kemp.
‘We found out later that the money would go to charity, not the team or the individual, which was a bit of an anti-climax. But it’s good that it went to charity in the end. That was quite a thing to pull off.’
The Super Eights stage of the tournament started with South Africa’s tight one-wicket win over Sri Lanka, despite Malinga’s record feat as the paceman took four wickets in a row. He removed Kallis, Hall, Pollock and tail-ender Makhaya Ntini to become the first bowler in ODI cricket to take four wickets with consecutive deliveries.
‘The game against Sri Lanka was crucial. Lasith Malinga is a lethal bowler – and in those conditions, with the ball reverse-swinging – he was particularly devastating. Jacques and I had batted quite nicely together before that Malinga over,’ said Kemp.
‘But I got out to Sanath Jayasuriya and it all started to happen. Malinga, bowling at great speeds and reverse-swinging the ball, was a huge challenge. We were fortunate to get over the line in the end, but that over was amazing.’
South Africa advanced to the semi-final, but got no further after after coming unstuck to Australia. Kemp top-scored with 49 in a final total of 149 all out at Gros Islet before the Aussies triumphed comfortably on the back of batsman Michael Clarke’s unbeaten half-century.
‘Of course, defeat in the semi-final was again tough. A look back at my career should show that I batted well under pressure. Although it was sad to lose to the Aussies in the end, I enjoyed that innings. I had the time to score runs, the balls to face – and in the end made a relatively slow 49,’ he adds.
‘Instead of just going out there and looking for the big shots, I dug in and played to the situation. The Australians were humble in victory. People say a lot of things about the Aussies, but they play hard cricket and are out there to win. They had a very good team at the time and played some great cricket. They were a nice bunch of guys. We were not good enough on the day, and that was very disappointing.’
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