Johannesburg: South Africa's cricket body insisted on Sunday that Herschelle Gibbs was still eligible for the Proteas, despite the release of his controversial autobiography and the termination of his national team contract.
Cricket South Africa attempted to clarify Gibbs' position with Sunday's statement — the second in three days — which said both parties had agreed to end the 36-year-old batsman's deal.
He is still available for South Africa, CSA said, and the move to end the contract came "following amicable discussions" and was "in the best interests of South African cricket."
But it's unlikely the entertaining opener, who last played for South Africa in February, will again represent his country.
CSA announced on Friday it had decided to cancel Gibbs's contract, which was then agreed to by Gibbs, but apologised to the player three days later for what it called a premature and inaccurate media release. The decision was reached by both sides, CSA explained.
"It has been agreed that this is the best way forward for both parties," CSA's chief executive Gerald Majola said on Sunday. "On behalf of CSA, I would like to wish Herschelle all the best for his future and to thank him for the contribution he has made to the successes of the Proteas."
Gibbs said, "I'd like to thank CSA, my teammates and especially the public for the unbelievable support over the years. The fans have been incredible and they all rock."
Gibbs has not announced his retirement from all international cricket — he had already given up Test cricket — and CSA insisted he could still be picked. Even so, it's almost certainly the end of a 14-year roller-coaster career with South Africa for Gibbs — who mixed brilliance on the field with controversy and scandal off it.
He has not played for South Africa for 10 months and was overlooked for the limited-overs squads for recent series against Zimbabwe and Pakistan and upcoming home matches against India.
His autobiography 'To the Point', released last month, described drinking, drugs and sexual antics on tours by the South African team and prompted CSA to ask its lawyers to examine the book and a possible breach of contract by Gibbs. The player also criticised some of his teammates, including current captain Graeme Smith.
An attacking, stroke-playing opening batsman, Gibbs' highs were notable.
He produced a stunning innings of 175 off 111 balls in 2006 to drive South Africa to a famous 50-over win over world champion Australia — where the Proteas produced a record-breaking 438 total. At the 2007 World Cup, he became the first man to hit six sixes in an over in an ODI.
He played 90 Tests between 1996 and 2008, averaging 50.26 runs with 14 centuries. He appeared in 238 ODIs, the last in February, with a 36.13 average and 21 centuries.
But Gibbs' career was blighted by a six-month ban in 2000 for his part in a match-fixing episode centered on the late Proteas captain Hansie Cronje. He was fined for smoking marijuana on a tour to the West Indies in 2001 and says he has battled alcohol addiction.
He told the Associated Press in an interview last month that writing his book had helped him come to terms with some of his problems.
"I've been very open and honest," he said. "I knew from the start that it (the book) would get a lot of criticism, so be it. I've enjoyed the experience."
Cricket South Africa said it had now given Gibbs permission to play in a Twenty20 competition in New Zealand this month and he has been linked with T20 events in West Indies and Australia.
"I look forward to entertaining everyone on the world stage," Gibbs said in Sunday's statement but did not give details. He has said his last remaining ambition is to win the World Cup but he's unlikely to be selected for his fourth tournament early next year.
CSA said neither side would comment further on the details of the agreement and both sides have signed confidentiality agreements.