The independent voice of cricket


“C’mon, hit me in front of square” – Akhtar & Gibbs relive classic duel

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

Herschelle Gibbs, the former South Africa batsman, and Pakistan’s one-time express paceman Shoaib Akhtar relived a classic duel from back in the day.

The match in question was the sixth ODI of a tri-series, also involving India, in Sharjah in March 2000. In a low-scoring encounter, South Africa had fallen 67 short in a chase of 169 with Akhtar returning 3-9. Gibbs was the only South Africa batsman who could match up to him that day, as he ended unbeaten on a 79-ball 59*.

Interestingly, Pakistan’s comfortable victory was achieved without dismissing the South Africa openers – Gibbs remained unbeaten, while Gary Kirsten, his opening partner, had retired hurt.

When he came across that trivia on Twitter, Gibbs retweeted it, and remembered how Akhtar had done the damage that day. Akhtar responded, saying all his three wickets had come in just one over. He had dismissed Mark Boucher, Dale Benkenstein and Lance Klusener respectively in the 17th over of South Africa’s chase to dismantle their spine.

The Proteas were ultimately bowled out for 101, 59 of those runs coming from Gibbs. He revealed in his reply to Akhtar’s tweet that he was being constantly egged on by the former pacer to hit him ‘in front of the square’, but laughed that he ultimately ‘ran out of partners’.

The venue being Sharjah, the heat was scorching, and Gibbs also joked that Akhtar had brought all the heat with him.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99