Missing the point

2010-11-20 00:00

AS media storms go, the hurricane created by Herschelle Gibbs’ autobiography, To The Point, was much like many of the author’s visits to the crease.

There was much anticipation, a flurry at the start and then a real sense of wanting more by the time it ended.

Sales of Gibbs’ memoirs have already topped 30 000, but that is as much to do with those curious about the off-field antics of national cricketers as it is about the followers of the sport interested in what made the top-order enigma tick.

Gibbs, at the end of a curious concoction of much sex, scandal and a smattering of career highs — playing and herbal — and lows, says all he wants to know is whether or not he had entertained.

Certainly, during a career that included the peaks of his 175 in “that” ODI against Australia, to the lows of a match-fixing scandal, going into rehab and being part of several, epic failures by the Proteas, Gibbs’ career was not without incident.

When one picks up a prominent performer’s reflections, you hope to gain some sense of perspective — a sneaky insight into what made them do what they did when they did it, and whether or not their reactions in the cauldron of the stage were any­thing like ours perched on our couches at home.

With this Gibbs offering, though, the first half of the book is dominated by reasons why the ridiculously talented Cape product never quite stayed at the heights he nudged occasionally.

Gibbs admits that he likes a drink but, despite being implored to go to rehab, he refuses to acknowledge it is the root of his shortcomings.

The sensitive side of the former Proteas opener reveals itself sporadically, not least when he sheds light on his personal relationships — and the manner in which many of them deteriorated.

In many ways, Gibbs’s second literary offering reveals that even in his advancing years, this playboy has never quite grown up.

The cheeky misdemeanour he introduces as a prodigy making his first-class debut, while still at school, never quite leaves the stage.

Much of the uproar surrounding Gibbs’s memoirs is that he has gone against the so-called “what goes on tour, stays on tour” understanding that keeps international teams together.

Gibbs not so much blows the whistle, as much as he blows his own horn regarding his conquests — regardless of the match situations — whilst on national duty.

In context, it is as shallow as it is shameful, yet Gibbs has offered it as a supposed source of pride.

His supposed honesty comes across as an admission of why he never quite made it onto the same table as the Brian Laras, Sachin Tendulkars and, closer to home, Jacques Kallis.

While the above-mentioned trio gathered runs greedily, Gibbs had other types of scoring in mind.

As international sportsmen, the opportunities to dabble in other forms of entertainment are clearly abundant.

One only has to flick through the headlines made by prominent sports stars over the last few years to see how easy it is to take one’s eye off the ball.

Sadly, Gibbs seems to celebrate this weakness which, when added to his penchant for a drink, meant that he was arriving at games in a state more befitting last orders, and not the top order.

He says he has no regrets personally, though he laments the Proteas’ inability to get over the line in big matches during his career.

Gibbs, who holds the late Hansie Cronje in the highest regard, even after all the drama, also rates the other captains he played under.

And, while he is at it, he voices his discontent at the set-up within the current Proteas squad.

He also gives a run-down of those players whose company he enjoyed — and those who he never quite read off the same script as.

As it would happen, Daryll Cullinan makes an appearance, but which list he falls into is something for you to find out yourself.

As his career winds down, one would have anticipated a shift in Gibbs’ mentality.

However, with the IPL providing the safety net, the 36-year old who never grew up has found a new lease on life — complete with more money, young models and, after this publication, probably a few less friends.

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