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Gibbs relishes the big stage

Herschelle Gibbs is pretty confident of doing well in the upcoming ICC Champions Trophy in his home soil and his enviable record in ICC events is a confidence boosting sign for the Proteas'

Gibbs relishes the big stage - Cricket News
Gibbs plays a shot during an ODI.
Herschelle Gibbs has an enviable record of personal success in major ICC tournaments and he will be looking to extend that record in next week's ICC Champions Trophy tournament on home soil.

He is one of the few cricketers to have a career average in excess of 50 in both ICC Champions Trophy and ICC Cricket World Cup tournaments and he is also one of the top 10 runs scorers of all time in both these major events.

Five of his 21 career ODI centuries have come in these tournaments, most notably the one he made against Australia at Headingley in 1999 and the one that followed a year later at the ICC Champions Trophy tournament in Sri Lanka when it took an agonizing attack of cramp to get him away from the crease.

It was that attack of cramp more than anything else that prevented the Proteas from winning their semi-final and advancing to the final which in any event was washed out after Sri Lanka and India had made two attempts to complete the game.

Gibbs' recent ODI form has been excellent. He made three centuries (against Pakistan, New Zealand and the West Indies) in the 2007-08 season and was the only player on either side to make a century in the most recent home series against Australia.

"That century against Australia was very important to me," he commented. "I have always rated my centuries against Australia in both Test and ODI cricket as my best because they have been made against the best attack.

"I believe I still have quite a few centuries and years of competition left in my tank and a major series on home turf is an excellent launch pad for the next chapter of my career," added the 35-year-old.

Jacques Kallis is another old warhorse of ICC competitions. He was named Man of the Series in what was then called the ICC Knock-out Cup in 1998 when he scored a century against Sri Lanka in the semi-final and then contributed five wickets to the victory in the final against the West Indies.

But the great all-rounder prefers to look forwards rather than to contemplate the past. "It is useful to have four or five really experienced players in our side but we are basically a young side that is creating its own foot print of success and a lot of the players have never played in either a Champions Trophy or a World Cup before," he commented.

"Personally, I am very happy with my recent form including my Test century against Australia at Sahara Park Newlands and then my good run in both the IPL and the ICC World Twenty20.

"I have had a good off-season in that it has allowed me time to work on fitness and conditioning and also to do normal things away from cricket.

"We have had two very good training camps at Potchefstroom and, like the rest of the guys, I am now looking forward to getting stuck into the new season."

Graeme Smith had his second hard batting session at Senwes Park on Wednesday as he gets set to lead the Proteas into Friday's warm-up ODI against the West Indies at the same venue.

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