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Gibbs' song of redemption

It's a pity that his knock would be always remembered for the numbers, and not for that redemption, writes Rituraj Borkakoty.

india Updated: Mar 14, 2006 14:31 IST

The Rainbow Nation was never more beautiful. And it's not without some irony that the most tortured soul on those shores should paint the canvas of the Wanderers red.

His 175 had only one colour, which is the colour of blood and which is beautiful enough to make a billion colours look pale in comparison.

It's a pity that his knock would be always remembered for the numbers— ones, twos, threes, fours, sixes— and not for that redemption.

For a long time, Gibbs has been a tortured man.

For dropping Steve Waugh, or rather, dropping the World Cup in 1999, for his confessions of his involvement in match-fixing with Hansie Cronje, for being the beautiful player who had often failed to be bold whenever his team was in a brittle position, Gibbs owed something to his team, to his people, to a nation.

And he did it and how.

For making a nation, as diverse as Mandela's, smile and shed tears of triumph, for making the impossible look possible for his mates, for challenging history to be part of it, Gibbs deserves to be placed in the pantheon of immortals.

Only last month in Australia, South Africa was humiliated on and off the field. Australians were superior in skill, but they were not, after all, unbeatable.

South Africa knew it. They talked about it. But they failed to convert the power of words into actions with bat and ball.

Touring Australia is never easy. Especially if you are not performing, those crowds, the press, everything is such a pain down under. And it does hurt to be abused for the colour of your skin. This is where few South Africans, Gibbs included, were hurt.

Before the start of this series, Aussies felt that the South African crowd would hit back, only for Graeme Smith to make that statement that people in his country are more civilized than in Australia. That the South African fans would never give to Ponting's men what the Australian fans gave to them.

Apparently even before a ball was bowled, things were taking more shapes than could be imagined.

But for Smith, this was also a series to show that his team can play and that his team is even capable of stopping the other team from playing.

After the drought down under, Smith battled his way back to form in the first ODI, and then Ntini crushed them at Newlands, with the famous Table Mountains, overlooking the ground, as the witness.

With Ponting back in team after injury, Australia not only managed to win the next two close encounters, but they had emphatically 'won' the finale at Wanderers even before South Africa came out to bat.

And then, well, we have been asking everyone: Hey, did you see that? How was that possible? Unbelievable, you know...

Herschelle Gibbs would live forever now.

A nation was on his feet when he raised his bat as a knight would his sword after annihilating the enemy at the gates. It was only fitting that his comrades could ensure that his runs would never lose count.

First Published: Mar 14, 2006 14:31 IST