Gibbs lays down the gauntlet
Herschelle Gibbs has challenged some of his star teammates to regain their best form for South Africa's first Twenty20 international, against New Zealand at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.
Herschelle Gibbs, set to make a comeback as an opening batsman, has challenged some of his star teammates to regain their best form for South Africa's first Twenty20 international, against New Zealand at the Wanderers Stadium on Friday.
Gibbs, back from injury, said he expected good performances from the five South Africans who played for the unsuccessful World XI one-day and Test teams against Australia.
He said: "I think that the guys who went to the Super Series will want to do well because they have a point to prove. I think their reputations took a bit of a knock."
South Africa started their preparations for Friday's match without captain Graeme Smith, wicketkeeper Mark Boucher and allrounders Jacques Kallis and Shaun Pollock, who were due to arrive back from Australia Wednesday afternoon.
Fast bowler Makhaya Ntini, who played in the Super Series one-day games, returned earlier.
Gibbs said new coach Mickey Arthur had suggested he might open the batting after a stint in the middle order last season. "I'll be happy to move back up the order. Some of my best cricket has been as an opener. I won't necessarily open, but I would like to be in the top three."
But it will be a gamble for South Africa if Gibbs opens on Friday in a form of the game which does not allow much time for a batsman to settle in. A knee injury kept Gibbs out of the Afro-Asia Cup in August and forced him to withdraw from the World XI one-day team.
He admitted that he was short of match practice but said he had felt in good form in net practices with the Cape Cobras franchise team and in individual sessions with national high performance manager Gary Kirsten.
While it will be South Africa's first Twenty20 international, most of the team have played the shortened game in domestic cricket, while South Africa were comfortable winners in a one-day international in the West Indies last season which was reduced by rain to 20 overs a side.
New Zealand will provide stern opposition, however, after starting their tour with two convincing wins over South Africa 'A'.
Skipper Stephen Fleming and Craig McMillan hit centuries in the warm-up games, while fast bowler Shane Bond was in excellent form.
The 20-overs match will be a pipe-opener for a series of five conventional 50-overs internationals starting in Bloemfontein on Sunday.
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