More about the booze and the women than the cricket, Herschelle Gibbs’s autobiography, ‘To the Point’, may be selling itself on the scandal and controversy, but, truth be told, it’s not that exciting, writes iafrica.com’s Rob Peters.
I have to admit I was quite looking forward to getting stuck into Herschelle Gibbs autobiography. From the press it was getting it sounded like a real page-turner, more about what happens behind the scenes than a recollection of myriad matches that he played in.
But, to be honest, while Gibbs doesn’t hold back, the revelations are just not that profound.
In ‘To the Point’, Gibbs never hides away from the fact that he enjoyed the booze and the women. He seems quite proud of it. For a guy who has had so many issues with both vices, you would think he would have learnt from it, but Gibbs generally shrugs off his mistakes with a smile.
In the chapter, ‘The Good Times’, where Gibbs seems to be at pains to assure the reader just how good with the ladies he is, the former Proteas star comes across as a boy that has never grown up, and is more than a little insecure.
Every story is tied in with a big night out, the resultant hangover, and an inability to remember what happened. In the first half of the book, Gibbs seldom looks at his cricket. When he does, it ties in with a massive hangover (his historic innings in the 438 game) or his numerous fines for arriving late at the team hotel after a heavy night of drinking or a liaison with a member of the fairer sex.
The most revealing parts of the book are Gibbs’s time in rehab for alcohol addiction and his divorce. Although Gibbs is at pains to stress he is not an addict, and that he was forced to book himself into the centre, he does not hold back on what actually took place there, which is refreshing and moves away from the frat boy tone of previous chapters.
When writing about his divorce, Gibbs again fesses up to his faults.
To his credit, he revisits all the scandals of his career in the chapter ‘The Controversies’ , but then he does not reveal anything earth-shattering, because most of it has been covered in the media already.
Unsurprisingly, we discover that he was hungover when he met with Indian police in 2006 for questioning relating to the match-fixing saga, because even then Gibbs could apparently not resist a big night out. He also calls out Darryl Cullinan as the person responsible for Gibbs and others being caught smoking marijuana in the West Indies.
Much has been made of this chapter, but it’s hardly as scandalous as it is being made out to be.
It is only in the second half of the book that Gibbs looks at his cricket.
He looks at the big games – both the ones that he helped win (438) and the ones that were lost (World Cup semis) , he discusses some of the players he got to know, both those he likes and dislikes, and then selects his top 10(ish) players.
‘To the Point’ is being sold on controversy and, to be honest, I am not sure if there is that much. Causing the most waves is Gibbs’s views on the Proteas set-up and the clique within the team. He gives his views on why the team seems incapable of winning major tournaments and points the finger at some members of the team,
What happens on tour stays on tour. It is something Gibbs mentions more than once in his ‘tell-all’ autobiography. That he cannot see the hypocrisy in that reveals a lot more about him than much of his book does.
Despite his faults, Herschelle Gibbs was always entertaining, both on and off the field, but while he tries his best here, his book does not do the same.