South African star Herschelle Gibbs reckons Glamorgan could be heading for Twenty20 glory – thanks to the Indian Premier League.
Following Friday night’s home victory over Somerset Sabres and the rain-affected no result against Warwickshire Bears, the Dragons are second in the table behind early pacesetters Northamptonshire Steelbacks.
And while it is early days in the competition, Gibbs believes the Dragons can upset the form book by putting their county championship troubles to one side and achieving a quarter-final qualification.
And that would put them within just TWO wins of a place in the proposed end-of-season Champions League tournament to be played in either Dubai or India.
“You only have to look at the IPL where all the big teams never came off and it was the underdogs who got to the final,” said Gibbs.
“The Champions Trophy is a wonderful incentive and beating Somerset has given us a lot of confidence for the rest of the tournament.
“There is no reason why we can’t qualify for the quarter-final.
“This tournament is very much based on momentum and you need to get on a roll.
“I think the four-day stuff has been disappointing for the Glamorgan squad, and I have sensed that since I have come in.
“Nobody likes to do badly but there is time for people to turn things around and win a few games in the championship.
“The main focus at the moment is to put the four-day stuff behind us and focus on the Twenty20.”
Gibbs made an instant impression on his Glamorgan batting debut against Somerset, top-scoring with 43 and taking a sharp catch to dismiss dangerman Marcus Trescothick as spinners Robert Croft and Dean Cosker ensured the Sabres fell short of their target.
“It was a good track and it was nice to get a feel of things and have a bat,” said Gibbs, who has replaced Jason Gillespie as the Dragons’ overseas professional for the Twenty20 series.
“I was probably a bit unlucky to find the fielder and I think I hit the ball too sweet.
“But while I was happy with how things went personally, more importantly it was a good team effort.
“Somerset got off to a really strong start and it needed quite a good catch from myself to break up the partnership.
“All credit to the spinners because they have bowled well in two matches.
“And the more I realise how much I play this game, the more I realise how important the slow bowlers are.
“To know you have the bowlers to defend a total like 170 is encouraging.” The quest for a last eight place continues today against Worcestershire Royals (2.30pm), who have defeated Gloucestershire Gladiators and lost to the Steelbacks in their opening two matches.
The Royals, who completed an easy Friends Provident Trophy double over Glamorgan earlier in the summer, include 42-year-old Graeme Hick.
The veteran batsman is set to equal Graham Gooch’s world record for the most competitive appearances by a professional cricketer tomorrow.
Hick will equal that tally of 1,195 matches if he plays today and eclipses Gooch’s mark if he plays in the Royals’ Twenty20 home clash with the Bears at New Road on Tuesday.
Hick, who scored 88 not out in the opening Twenty20 game with the Gladiators, made his Worcester debut way back in 1984 and he has also represented England as well as New Zealand side Northern Districts.
Gibbs insisted that Hick is still a major force, despite the ravages of time, and is a real dangerman for the Royals.
“Graeme Hick has a wealth of experience and he has proven his quality over the years,” he added.
“And he showed that the other night with his innings against Gloucestershire.”
Such sentiments were echoed by Dragons’ cricket manager Matthew Maynard, who played against Hick for 20 years on the county circuit.
“Graeme has always been a fit bloke who has looked after himself,” added Maynard.
“He is only two months younger than I am.
“So to carry on playing with the intensity he does is testament to how hard he is working on his fitness and natural ability.
“He is a great ambassador for the sport.
“As such, he deserved all the accolades he achieves.”