SK Flashback: Herschelle Gibbs’ 6 sixes in an over in the 2007 World Cup
Clouting sixes off all the six balls of an over is one of the rarest of rare feats in cricket. It took nearly a hundred years of first-class cricket for the peerless Gary Sobers to show that it could be done. It seemed almost inevitable that inarguably the most gifted cricketer ever would achieve it. He slammed Glamorgan medium-pacer Malcolm Nash all over the St. Helen’s Ground at Swansea in 1968, playing for Nottinghamshire in the English County Championship.
The next instance came from the unlikely blade of Ravi Shastri when he smashed Baroda’s left-arm spinner Tilak Raj at the Wankhede Stadium in 1985, representing Bombay in the Ranji Trophy.
Herschelle Gibbs became the first batsman to achieve it in international cricket, 36 years after the One-day game began at that level. Not surprisingly, Twenty20 saw this extraordinary accomplishment very quickly when Indian left-hander Yuvraj Singh tonked England’s paceman Stuart Broad at Durban in the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship six months later in 2007.
Though it was an outing against minnows Holland at the Warner Park in Basseterre, St. Kitts, this is an exploit to be lauded, no matter what class of cricket and what the circumstances are. The hapless bowler was leg-spinner Daan van Bunge. Gibbs was batting on 32 off 30 deliveries with 3 fours and a six off the left-arm medium-pace of Dutch captain Luuk van Troost over long-off when van Bunge came on to bowl the 30th over.
Gibbs stepped out to the first ball and lofted it over the long-on boundary. The next one was flighted and drifting towards leg and middle, and Gibbs smote it beyond the long-off fence. The third delivery was flat. Gibbs nonchalantly struck it again over long-off. Van Troost wryly asked his bewildered bowler why he did not bowl a quicker one. “But I just did,” shot back van Bunge. He aimed for the block-hole too, but it turned into a low full toss which Gibbs flat-batted above mid-wicket. Just for variety, van Bunge sent down a short ball outside the off-stump, a completely different length, and line, but Gibbs got on to the back-foot and bludgeoned it wide of long-off. There was an air of expectancy all around. Would this singular act come about for the first time in international cricket? Now the line was similar but the length was full and Gibbs blasted it high over mid-wicket.
It was a stupendous effort. Gibbs’ 7 sixes came off 8 balls. He fell for 72 off 40 deliveries, having struck four boundaries besides. Jacques Kallis went on to crash 5 sixes of his own in addition to his 11 fours in his unbeaten 128 off 109 deliveries. Mark Boucher blazed to the fastest fifty of the World Cup in 21 balls, which was bettered by a delivery by Kiwi Brendon McCullum against Canada six days later. South Africa piled up 353 for three in 40 overs in a game truncated due to the wet ground. The shell-shocked Netherlands team could only muster 132 runs, being defeated by the huge margin of 221 runs.
Johnnie Walker had pledged to donate $ 1 million to the Habitat for Humanity charity, which campaigns against poverty the world over if a batsman hit 6 sixes in an over during this tournament. Gibbs became an indirect donor to this great cause.
South Africa 353 for 3 wickets (40 overs), Holland 132 for 9 wickets (40 overs) (CWC 2007)
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