There’s a huge tournament taking place at the moment that is dominating TV / computer time and messing with far too many workplace schedules, busting up marriages, etc.

I’m writing of course, about the 2007 ICC Cricket World Cup, which began earlier this week and was marked Friday by a particularly historic achievement by South Africa’s Hershelle Gibbs. From the Times’ John Westerby :

Sooner or later, with world-class batsmen facing part-time bowlers on small grounds, something spectacular was going to happen. Herschelle Gibbs was the man to provide it, becoming the first player to hit six sixes in an over in international cricket. The unfortunate bowler was Daan van Bunge, a tall leg spinner with a gentle action who plays for the Netherlands and used to be on the MCC groundstaff.

In a game reduced to 40 overs after a delayed start, South Africa had already been making rapid progress when the thirtieth over began. Gibbs came down the wicket to the first ball and drove over wide mid-on. The second and third balls were smeared over mid-off. Not helping himself, Van Bunge then slipped in a full toss that was thumped gratefully over mid-wicket.

For the last two balls, the bowler attempted to pull his length back, but Gibbs merely retreated to the back foot, pulling the fifth straight back over the bowler™s head and swatting the sixth with a horizontal bat over mid-on. Gibbs strode down the wicket, a broad smile on his face, and struck a high five with Jacques Kallis, his partner. Van Bunge collected his cap ruefully, aware that he had earned an unwanted place in the record books.

The only two other instances of six sixes being hit in professional cricket were by Garry Sobers off Malcolm Nash in a one-day match for Nottinghamshire against Glamorgan in 1968 and Ravi Shastri, the only instance in first-class cricket, off Tilak Raj, for Bombay against Baroda in 1984.