Tears of joy for Gibbs

2009-04-13 00:00

IT was all too much for South Africa’s colourful opener yesterday, as his first century in over a year propelled the Proteas on their way to a series-clinching, 61-run win in Port Elizabeth.

“After waiting for so long, I got a bit emotional and I could hardly see the next ball from Shane Harwood,” Herschelle Gibbs said.

Often lamented for being too hasty, Gibbs was patience personified, as he and the red-hot AB de Villiers gave South Africa a fine platform for a final assault that ended on 317 for 6.

As it turned out, “only” 86 runs were mustered off the final ten overs as wickets started to tumble, but Gibbs had played his part by then.

In a year that has seen him performing more off the field than on it, Gibbs probably knew that he was under pressure to retain his spot beyond this series.

“I knew that a ton was around the corner, ever since Sydney actually. But I guess I was just trying too hard sometimes.

“I just knew that if I got past the 15-20 over stage, a big one was there. And it was a really excellent strip, for which the groundstaff must be commended,” he added.

So after being trounced in the series opener, the Proteas have turned the tide to win the next three with relative ease.

Graeme Smith was pleasantly surprised when, upon losing the toss, he was invited to bat by Ricky Ponting.

“With two spinners, we would have batted and I was a bit surprised by Ricky because it was a good deck,” Smith said.

Roelof van der Merwe’s fine start to the big time continued, as he claimed three big wickets.

The Australian chase got off to a terrific start, as Brad Haddin (78) and Michael Clarke (50) added 129 off the first 21 overs. Then the spin of South Africa took over, with Johan Botha joining Van der Merwe in throttling the middle order.

Botha got rid of the dangerous Haddin, whilst his fellow darter accounted for Clarke, Callum Ferguson and Mike Hussey.

Ponting watched on from the other end as the innings unravelled, and it was significant that he only struck his first boundary off his 62nd delivery.

Once he fell, with the asking rate clipping the 11 an over mark, it was a matter of when the final nail would be banged in by the home side.

Dale Steyn, who had been clobbered for 16 off an over by Ponting, got his revenge as he ousted the skipper, then finished things off by bowling Nathan Hauritz and Harwood to seal another clinical Protea performance.

There won’t be a Wanderers decider this time, but it would be foolhardy to expect this fine summer of rivalry to end with a damp squib.

Ponting’s side will surely look to rectify their woeful day in the field yesterday, whilst Smith and company will be out to mirror the 4-1 ODI series margin from down under.

So, despite the premature conclusion, there will still be much to play for on Friday night at the Bullring. The only downside for fans is that, finally, the epic summer against the Aussies will come to an end. It has certainly been one to cherish.

SCOREBOARD

Toss: Australia

South Africa innings

H Gibbs c Clarke b Bracken 110

G Smith c Haddin b Hopes 20

J Kallis c Ferguson b Harwood 17

A de Villiers c Ferguson b Johnson 84

A Morkel b Johnson 4

M Boucher not out 29

J Duminy c M Hussey b Harwood 40

Extras 13

Total 317

Fall of wickets: 1-46 (Smith 10.1), 2-87 (Kallis 17.6), 3-223 (Gibbs 38.3), 4-240 (A Morkel 40.6), 5-252 (De Villiers 42.4), 6-317 (Duminy 49.6)

Bowling: Bracken 10-0-64-1 (1w), Johnson 10-0-59-2 (3w), Hopes 10-0-57-1, Harwood 10-0-57-2 (2w), Hauritz 7-0-51-0, Clarke 3-0-22-0

Australia innings

B Haddin c Parnell b Botha 78

M Clarke b Van der Merwe 50

R Ponting c A Morkel b Steyn 53

C Ferguson st Boucher b Van der Merwe 3

M Hussey lbw Van der Merwe 2

D Hussey c and b Steyn 20

J Hopes c Gibbs b Parnell 31

M Johnson b A Morkel 5

N Hauritz b Steyn 3

N Bracken not out 0

S Harwood b Steyn 0

Extras: 11

Total: 256

Fall of wickets: 1-123 (Haddin 20.4), 2-137 (Clarke 23.3), 3-145 (Ferguson 25.1), 4-151 (M Hussey 27.4), 6-226 (Ponting 40.6), 7-245 (Johnson 43.3), 8-255 (Hopes 44.4), 9-256 (Hauritz 45.1), 10-256 (Harwood 45.5)

Bowling: Steyn 7.5-1-44-4 (2w), Parnell 9-0-64-1, Kallis 4-0-25-0 (1w), Morkel 5-0-25-1 (1w), Botha 10-0-48-1, Van der Merwe 10-0-46-3 (3w) Result: South Africa win by 61 runs

Series: South Africa 3 Australia 1

Man of the match: Herschelle Gibbs.

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