As is often the case during the initial stages of the World Cup, a mismatched contest, this time between South Africa and the Netherlands, was slated to be played at St. Kitts in the first round of the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Both the teams were playing their first match in the tournament and everyone knew that this encounter will be a one-sided affair.
But the people witnessed something really historical that day. One thing that never had happened in the history of One-Day International cricket. South African explosive opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs went on to become the first player to hit six sixes in an over in the shorter format of the game.
After winning the toss, the Netherlands chose to field first, which was really surprising, considering how matches had usually panned out there. The match was reduced to 40 overs due to rain. The Proteas suffered a big blow in the first over of the match as they lost their star batsman Ab de Villiers on the fourth ball of the first inning.
After that wicket, Graeme Smith and Jacques Kallis came together to put up a century stand (114) in under 20 overs. Smith departed in the 19th over for 67 runs from 59 balls. As he departed, Herschelle Gibbs walked out to bat and what happened next was something legendary.
South Africa was in a strong position and they were looking forward to post a big total on the scoreboard. The ball was then given to part-time leg-break bowler Daan van Bunge. Despite conceding more than six runs per over, van Bunge was not taken off the attack.
The first ball, van Bunge pitched it short and Gibbs treated it with disdain. He stepped out of the crease and sent the ball sailing over long on. That six did not matter much because any bowler can be hit for a six, that is not a big deal.
The second ball, Bungen pitched the ball on the leg-side. Gibbs made some room and hit a humongous six over the bowler’s head. The ball thud into the sight-screen before wearily rolling back to the field. It was this moment when Skipper Andre Troost thought that he has done a mistake by giving Bungen the ball.
Bungen tried to go full for the third ball but nothing really changed. Fuller, quicker on the off-stump, but Gibbs was quick to club it over long-off. He completed his half-century with this six. He took just 33 balls to make a fifty. After that ball, Bungen was looking frustrated and clearly disappointed with the way his balls were flying across the boundary ropes.
For the fourth ball, van Bunge bowled a knee-length full toss that is hoisted over deep mid-wicket by Gibbs. In most scenarios, a spinner under heavy attack tends to bowl it flatter and shorter. In the case of part-timers, it is almost given that they are going to resort to it.
Gi bbs, true to his plan, stayed inside the crease for the fifth ball, and a short, slow turning delivery that greeted him was swatted straight the ropes. He was just one six-way from making history.
And then came the magical moment.
Van Bunge’s ball was rightly pummelled by Gibbs over deep mid-wicket again. The ball cleared the ground and the South Africans went berserk after watching the proceedings from the confines of the pavilion.
It was the first time that such feat was achieved in a One-Day International match. It was already done in the First Class cricket. Sir Gary Sobers in 1968 and Ravi Shastri in 1985 had scored six sixes in a First-Class match. Gibbs hit 4 fours and 7 sixes during his inning at the strike rate of 180. South Africa posted a towering total of 353 and beat the Netherlands by a whopping margin of 221 runs.
Gibbs was always a force of nature and this inning proved why he was called one of the most lethal batsmen of all time.
About the Author
Sports Journalist by profession, a Cricket Fanatic by passion. Aayush Sharma has been following the game of cricket since childhood and considers Sachin Tendulkar as his idol. When in free time, he loves to read books or go out and play some gully cricket with friends. For him, Tennis ace Roger Federer and F1 Legend Michael Schumacher are the only sportspersons that reach the level of Tendulkar