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7th Match, Group A: Netherlands v South Africa at Basseterre - Mar 16, 2007

Gibbs: the gleeful assassin

When minnows take on the big guns there.s always a serious risk of records tumbling. But, till today, this World Cup had served up pitches that have not been ideal for batting. And when Luuk van Troost put South Africa in on a pitch that bedded down into an absolute belter after a few overs of assistance for the seam bowlers, an assault of epic proportions followed, one that even the Dutch captain could not have remotely imagined.

The setting, after a brief period of calm first up where a wicket fell and only four runs were scored from five overs, the atmosphere was more of one of those cricket video games that young kids play on their PlayStations than an actual contest between bat and ball. The sixes came with such astounding regularity that it was almost forgotten that 30 fours were scored. There were 18 sixes in all, a record for a World Cup match, and seven of them came from the blade of Herschelle Gibbs, six in one over.

Just as the world remembers Malcolm Nash and Tilak Raj, for being hit for six sixes in an over by Garry Sobers and Ravi Shastri respectively, Daan van Bunge will go down in the record books as the only man to be similarly taken to the cleaners in an international match. He tossed the ball up, sent it in flat, tried to push it through quicker, floated it full and dragged it short. It just didn.t matter to Gibbs, who gleefully deposited each offering into the stands.

Sure, Gibbs is one of the most attacking batsmen in modern cricket, but to hit every ball of an over for six, against even the most modest of bowlers is a special achievement. The beauty about Gibbs. strokeplay is that it is a delectable mix of power, timing, orthodoxy and improvisation. It.s a deadly mixture, and once the fuse is lit - like it was on the day - an explosion is inevitable.

The fact that every batsman bar AB de Villiers was successful in going after the bowling meant that there was simply no semblance of pressure on him. There was no need to hold back, no need to worry about anything other than having a good time. When he began his assault there was a child-like enthusiasm to Gibbs massacre, but by the time he was done with van Bunge the grin he wore looked almost apologetic.

And finally, when he tossed it all away - having helped himself to 72 from 40 balls (4 fours, 7 sixes) - he was laughing in bemusement as he walked off the square. Sure, there were similarly destructive innings from Jacques Kallis, who made 128, and Mark Boucher, who slammed 75, but it was Gibbs. knock that gave the most joy. That is, of course, if you didn.t happen to be one of those unfortunate people wearing the bright orange Netherlands shirt.