Dr. Habib Noorbhai (Mr South Africa 2017) is a Researcher in Sports Science, a presenter, speaker and humanitarian. He completed a BA in Sport Psychology (UJ), Honours in Biokinetics (UKZN), MPhil in Biokinetics (UCT) and a PhD in Exercise Science at UCT.

In 2013, he was among South Africa’s top 100 brightest young minds and in 2015, he was nominated among Mail and Guardians top 200 young South Africans. He was also included in Fast Company South Africa’s Top 30 creative people in business for 2017.

Habib has been featured on a variety of television shows, both as a professional and as Mr South Africa. Some of these included: Top Billing, Mela, thrice on Expresso, eNCA and SABC News. In 2015, he had his own sport and health show on OpenViewHD and a radio show on Hashtag Radio. He is also a frequent expert guest on Cape Talk and Radio702 discussing relevant topics on sports science, exercise, health, community engagement and leadership.

Habib also founded a non-profit organisation in 2013 called The Humanitarians, a volunteer-based organisation, whereby various community projects and programmes are conducted through sport, health, education, sustainability and innovation. These programmes are also conducted through Habib’s current reign as Mr South Africa 2017 to spearhead change and making a difference in society.



Habib Noorbhai - Top Quote

What is Chris Gayle’s batting secret?

Cape Town – Chris Gayle has been a phenomenal batsman and an X-factor against many playing nations for the past decade. Whilst a pleasure to watch, it is also a daunting task to watch for the oppositions once he gets going. Let’s go deeper and evaluate what the batting secrets of Chris Gayle are and why he is so colossal.

Firstly, it is worth to know that Gayle does regular strength training as reported in one of the post-match presentation last year. He also mentioned his enjoyment of dancing which keeps him happy, agile and less pressurised.

Contributing to his calm demeanour, one can notice that both his head and the bat is still at the crease before he hits the ball. This shows that he is breathing which keeps him in a relaxed state. If he had to strike his bat numerous times on the pitch before hitting the ball, it would make him more agitated before hitting the ball. Instead, he keeps his backlift pointing to second slip, and the face of his bat to point until the bowler delivers the ball.

In contrast, Adam Gilchrist and Herschelle Gibbs used to strike their bat on the pitch a few times before hitting the ball as they played best when their adrenaline was high. Unlike Gayle, it appears that he prefers to be calm at the crease before striking the ball with sheer force and power.

AB de Villiers does the same thing as Gayle with his backlift and calm demeanour which could also explain his talented performance. However, we will leave the analysis of AB for another day.

Bearing Gayle’s backlift in mind, what other characteristics of his batting which comes to mind is worth to look out for? Well, firstly, Chris Gayle is a tall man and bats with a wide stance at the crease. This ensures a solid base, and is adjustable for any delivery bowled at him. He also has limited feet movement which is all efficient hand-eye coordination.

Baseball players also have a wide stance when hitting the ball. It’s an interesting thought whether Gayle would be a proficient baseball player or not? My guess is that he would, as there is no bounce involved with baseball and any ‘full toss’ for a cricketer is a pure gift. Secondly, in addition to Gayle’s effective backlift and strong bottom hand grip, he has a long handle which gives him some leverage when holding the bat.

Graeme Pollock, a legend of South African cricket a few decades ago, also had a long bat handle and was of similar height to Gayle. Graeme Pollock once said in a television interview that cricket is a “see-ball, hit-ball” game.

Therefore, why do we place so much emphasis on technique when the objective of cricket is to hit the ball and score as many runs as possible? It would, therefore, be interesting to find out if players such as Gayle and Lara played Calypso cricket in childhood.

Calypso cricket is a form of street cricket played in the Caribbean and the objective is to hit every ball, hard as well, and get as many runs as possible. The question still remains: what made or makes these two giants (Gayle and Pollock) so destructive in cricket?

Graeme had the second highest average in test cricket of 66 with Sir Donald Bradman having the highest of 99. Assumptions based on the height of a batman show that the shorter the batsman, the more successful they are i.e. players like Tendulkar, Dravid, Ponting and Jayawardene.

So why are tall batsman like Gayle and Graeme so successful? They are left-handed batsmen and one cannot underestimate the left-hander’s arc or in other words, ‘cow’ corner’. In the present and past era, players such as Gayle, Lara, Klusener, Gilchrist, Miller, Moeen Ali and De Kock have all made use of their left-hander’s arc in which they score a whole lot of runs in that area.

My point on batsman’s height is: shorter batsmen who are right handed are more successful whilst taller batsmen who are left-handed are more destructive. Verily, we cannot generalise as each batsman is different and unique in their own capabilities.

In addition to Gayle’s wide stance and hand grip, he also has a lot of power when hitting the ball. He hardly double-steps and this speaks to his quick speed of the bat before making an impact with the ball. It’s the last few split seconds, before impact of the ball which compliments both his strength training and the runs scored on the leg side.

The question is, where should one bowl to Gayle?

      Bowling consistently at Yorker length – death bowling is key, especially towards the end of the innings.
      Swinging the ball away to him where it comes to off-side at back of a length, and nothing full or short as Gayle would decapitate a bowler with full or short deliveries.
      Spinners should bowl to him outside off stump, especially if they are right hand orthodox or off-spinners.
      And lastly, an adequate bouncer from the pace of bowlers such as Steyn, Johnson or Anderson might boggle the Gayle force.

* Habib Noorbhai is a registered biokineticist. He’s also a Ph.D. Scholar in Exercise Science (UCT) and resident Health24 Fitness Expert. You can follow him on Twitter.

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  • It was a great pleasure to supervise Habib Noorbhai. He has unique abilities that I have not previously experienced in any of the PhD students I have assisted. I have not ever experienced this combination of personal abilities and drives in any other student. Other characteristics that I appreciated are his ability to be fearless – he is not daunted by any task he sets himself – and his desire to push the boundaries of knowledge, regardless of the personal consequences.

    ~ Prof Tim Noakes, Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town

  • Habib was warmly welcomed by the Redbacks team and staff and fitted in well. He carried out his duties diligently and efficiently. The players and staff had only had praise for his experise and enthusiasm during the CLT20 tournament and this was much appreciated by all. Habib also showed initiative outside his core duties by assisting the support staff on training days and always doing this to the best of his abilities. During this time, Habib had been well-organised, reliable and responsible.

    ~ Simon Cain, South Australian Redbacks Cricket, 2010

  • The service that I received from Habib Noorbhai was more than satisfactory. Habib was considerate about the fact that I had limited assistance with very limited time. He was more than helpful in terms of structuring my work, checking the content, and all other features of my work. I would recommend his assistance to any other person who needs guidance in similar tasks. Mr Noorbhai was patient, understanding and encouraging at all times. I would like to thank Mr Noorbhai for his assistance with my thesis completion.

    ~ Nicholas Christelis, University of Cape Town student, 2014.

  • Whomever Habib speaks or presents to, he does so with such enthusiasm, practically and is highly adaptable to his audience and the genre. It is a pleasure to listen to his unique insights and perspectives. One can't help but feel inspired to do and be more after interacting with him.

    Taahira Goolam Hoosen, University of Cape Town, 2016