Gibbs and Kirsten lead Western Province master-class

Marcus Prior

December 22, 2000

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With Gary Kirsten away playing for South Africa so often this season, Herschelle Gibbs has had little chance to bat with his opening partner as he sits out the remainder of his ban from the international game. At Newlands on Friday night, we got a little reminder of the kind of entertainment the two are capable of serving up, with Gibbs most definitely the ringmaster.

Western Province won the game by nine wickets with more than 14 overs to spare, Gibbs making 90 of the most entertaining runs you will ever see, scored off just 76 balls and including nine fours and two sixes.

It is almost unfair that Kirsten's untypically aggressive but no less impressive unbeaten 85 was played out as a cameo in the shadow of Gibbs the destroyer.

Indeed, it was Kirsten who got off to the faster start, tearing into new international cap, Mfuneko Ngam. As early as the fifth over, Kirsten had raced to 27, with Gibbs on 2, waiting for his turn to step into the limelight.

Which he did in spectacular fashion. Garnett Kruger was launched over extra-cover for six, then Robin Petersen watched as one of his deliveries landed in one of the hospitality suites at the Kelvin Grove end. When Ngam was brought back for a second spell, Gibbs thumped him over mid-off and then turned him beautifully to the square leg boundary - Ngam's second spell ended there.

Gibbs did fall eventually, and it was no surprise that he was caught in the deep, inches short of his third six. Kirsten and Jacques Kallis steered Western Province home.

Earlier, Kallis picked up five wickets in the Eastern Province innings, using his ability to generate reverse swing to great effect and falling just short of a hat-trick when Petersen was a gossamer-thread from edging to the 'keeper.

The visitors should have posted a far more imposing total, after reaching 171 for two in the 40th over. With James Bryant shortly to move to a well-deserved century, his teammates failed to give him the strike and just 31 runs were scored in the last five overs.

Bryant's efforts will be no more than a postscript, though. This was Herschelle Gibbs' day.

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