January 15, 2003

Western Province crowned Standard Bank Cup Champions

Western Province is the 2002-03 Standard Bank Cup Champions after completely outplaying and outclassing Griqualand West in almost every department of a one-sided final played at Newlands.

Set to make 126 in the allocated 45 overs, Herschelle Gibbs and Gary Kirsten took the hosts to a nine-wicket victory in what must be one of the shortest and easiest limited over finals in the history of South Africa domestic cricket.

The losing of Graeme Smith for five, when Western Province was on 11, gave Griqualand West a glimmer of hope, but that was ripped away by the two local internationals.

Gibbs was at his utmost best. Taking the Griqua attack by the scruff of the neck he smashed the ball to all parts of the ground finishing with an undefeated 67 off 44 balls which included 10 fours and two sixes, one clipped off his heels over long leg and the other sailing over the ropes at long off.

Not to be outdone, Gary Kirsten, worried about the threat of rain, ended undefeated on 46 from 28 balls that included nine fours.

The game was over in 12.4 overs and Griqualand West's record as giant killers had seen a sad ending.

One always had the feeling that Western Province was going to be too strong for the visitors from Kimberley and once wickets started to fall the writing was on the wall.

An excellent 59 from Martin Gidley in the end had no significance, with no one else prepared to spend time at the crease. A 54-run partnership between Gidley and Brett Tucker, scoring 19, was all the Griqua Diamonds could over in resistance.

Far too many of the top order batsmen fell to soft dismissals and a collapse in the middle order, going from 109/4 to 125 all out, all but gifted the final to Gary Kirsten and his men.

Alan Dawson, man-of-the-series, was again in the wickets and his disciplined line and length added additional pressure to the Griqua batsmen. Ending the match with figures of three for 15 off 7.2 overs helped him to the top wicket taker (16) of the tournament.

Claude Henderson, assisted by some poor shot selections, picket up four for 26 in his nine over spell.

Griqualand West however should not feel too desponded and should have learnt some valuable lessons and experience from their outing. By reaching the final they had outplayed 10 other unions, but happened to catch Western Province at their very best.

For Western Province it was just reward for a season that saw them lose the first class final against Easterns, but coming back to finish the season with another trophy in the cabinet.