India, England are Gibbs’ World Cup favourites

Former South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs feels the Proteas, even without superstar AB de Villiers, have the firepower to cross the line in the ICC World Cup 2019 later this year.

Herschelle Gibbs waves to his fans at the announcement event of IB Cricket Super Over League in Mumbai on Monday.   -  AFP


The South Africans are a strong force in international cricket but a World Cup title has eluded them so far. As another edition of the cricket’s showpiece event nears, former South Africa batsman Herschelle Gibbs believes the Proteas still stand a chance.

He, however, names India and England as the top two contenders for the title.

Gibbs, who was part of the South African side that reached the semifinals of the World Cup in 1999, feels his nation can make it count despite the absence of superstar AB de Villiers.

“We are always there, irrespective of ABD. We have Faf [du Plessis], Quinton de Kock. The only thing is we have never had strong all-rounders and that’s the only issue for South Africa at the moment,” Gibbs said on Monday.

READ| Finch aims to hit the mark in India-Australia ODI series

In the city to be part of IB Cricket Super Over League — the virtual reality cricket tournament, which will be aired on Viu from next month — Gibbs made it clear that it would be interesting to see the last four in the World Cup.

“It is always wide open. The top two contenders will be England and India. Who is going to be the other two for the semifinals? That’s difficult to say. A lot depends on the weather in England. The bowling attacks will all play a part,” he said.

Last week, Sri Lanka’s Kusal Perera hammered an unbeaten 153 to take his side home against South Africa in the first Test.

Gibbs feels Test cricket is still the ultimate format to test a player.

“Test cricket is strong. I don’t know why people say it needs revival? I am a big fan of Test cricket going (on for) 3-4 days. It doesn’t have to go for five days. The batsmen around the world get easy in one-dayers and T20, so that means (if they need to) fight in sporting wickets in Test cricket, so be it,” he said.

ALSO READ| Dinesh Karthik non-selection adds to India's World Cup squad puzzle

“Sometime the game finishes in two days, when the ball is turning. I don’t mind that. It should not have to go for all five days. It is important that a batsman’s technique gets tested all the time. The bowlers also should have something to get the confidence going. They don’t get it from T20 or ODIs because the batsmen play on the flat pitch,” the 44-year-old Gibbs, who has featured in 90 Tests for South Africa, said.

Talking about his decision to join the virtual cricket league, he said, “It is as real as it gets other than playing the game. We are lucky enough that we played in front of the crowd but everything about the game is very much real.”

From left: Virender Sehwag, Shubman Gill, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, Chris Lynn, Brendon McCullum, Prithvi Shaw, Andre Russell, VVS Laxman, Herschelle Gibbs, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Harbhajan Singh at the announcement event of IB Cricket Super Over League in Mumbai on Monday.   -  SHAYAN ACHARYA

  Dugout videos