Gibbs, Gayle duel for best ‘hired gun’

2012-01-10 00:00

CAPE TOWN — South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs and Chris Gayle of West Indies are engaged in a neck-and-neck duel to be the best batting “hired gun” in the Austra­lian Big Bash Twenty20 league.

The top run scorer in the competition thus far — the eight-team event culminates with the final on January 28 — is domestic player Travis Birt of the Hobart Hurricanes, with 258 at an average of 51,60 and strike rate of 170.

But he has played one match more (six) than the famously swashbuckling men in second and third spots respectively, overseas guests Gayle (Sydney Thunder) and Gibbs (Perth Scorchers).

These two are separated by only one run after five appearances each — the left-handed Jamaican, presently out of favour with West Indies officialdom, has 232 runs at 58,00 and a strike rate of 153.

Gibbs is hot on his tail with 231 runs at 46,20 and a strike rate of almost 152.

The Capetonian was finally deemed surplus to Proteas requirements in May 2010 and is, in fairness, only a month or so short of his 38th birthday anyway.

But if an increasing lack of consistency was primarily responsible for his international exit after a lengthy career in all three codes, the irony is that for the Scorchers he has produced beefy scores regularly. His last four knocks, from the most recent, have been 65, 69, 38 and 57.

He has been a major factor in the West Australian outfit lying a handy second on the table, with two round-robin matches to go before the semi-finals and final.

Gayle (32) has a more realistic chance of playing international cricket again, if he can settle his dispute with the West Indies hierarchy.

Meanwhile off-spinning all-rounder Johan Botha returns to our shores for the five-match ODI series against Sri Lanka, starting at Paarl tomorrow, in pretty good form after four matches for the Adelaide Strikers lying fourth and in semis contention.

He has taken five wickets at an average of 19,80 and tidy economy rate of 6,90, whilst averaging 37,50 with the willow.

With the ODI series ending on January 22 at the Wanderers, he would presumably be available should his services be required for the Big Bash final. — Sport24.

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