Exhausted Gibbs to give Durham a skip

Published: Thursday, May 6, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Durham:South African opening batsman Herschelle Gibbs will not play for English County Durham this season after being told by South African cricket supremos to take a rest from all forms of cricket.

The United Cricket Board of South Africa (UCBSA) sent a statement to the County regarding Gibbs's inability to honour his contractual obligations - he had already delayed his arrival following the tour of New Zealand at the end of March.

"Herschelle has been experiencing severe physical and mental fatigue, such being the result of an extremely long and challenging international season," read the statement.

"The UCBSA have recommended that Herschelle takes a break from all forms of cricket for the (South African) winter in order to ensure he is prepared for his upcoming international commitments that are due to commence in two months with the tour to Sri Lanka."

Fortunately for Durham they had already called up Australian batsman Marcus North as temporary cover for the 30-year-old Gibbs, who has scored 4693 runs in 59 Tests at an average of 49.40 with a highest score of 228.

However he will remain better known for being implicated in the Hansie Cronje match-fixing scandal and dropping a catch off Steve Waugh in the 1999 World Cup semi-final which Australia edged them out of and led Waugh to go up to him and comment 'how does it feel to have dropped the World Cup.'

"It is a blow to lose a player of Herschelle's ability especially without him playing a game," said Durham coach Martyn Moxon.

"Fortunately, Marcus North is in fine form at the moment having scored his maiden century for Durham over the weekend and we can now take time to consider all our options over the coming weeks," added the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman.

Moxon, though, was able to announce they had signed Pakistani fast bowler Tahir Mughal as short term cover due to a crippling injury crisis and the continued unavailability of key players.

With Pakistani speedster Shoaib Akhtar not due to arrive until after the weekend and Stephen Harmison still in the Caribbean, Moxon's bowling options have been limited by injuries.

Tahir Mughal impressed while playing for the Durham Academy last year and has a first class average of 21.22 in Pakistan. Tahir has impressed with the bat as well, boasting a century in a Limited Overs game and 68 not out in first class cricket.

"The decision to draft in a bowler at such short notice was not taken lightly," commented Moxon.

"But with worsening injury problems, we felt the need to strengthen the bowling attack until the arrival of Shoaib Akhtar."

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