By Dasen Thathiah
In sporting circles, there can be few honours greater than being named Cricketer of the Century for your home country – an honour bestowed on South African cricketer Robert Graeme Pollock in 2000.
Cricketer Graeme Pollock
Pollock is arguably the most successful left-handed batsman in test history, with an average second only to the legendary Sir Donald Bradman.
Pollock, who attended Grey High School in Port Elizabeth, was born in Durban on February 27, 1944. He mastered his cricket skills on a makeshift pitch in his garden at an early age by playing with his brother, Peter. While he was still at school, Pollock broke the record for being the youngest player to score a first-class century before becoming the youngest South African to score a double century at 19.
However, when he was selected for the 1963 Australian tour, the first two tests produced dismal results. But it was third time lucky. Pollock impressed even the most difficult commentators by scoring an amazing 175 runs. And he continued to impress. Sir Donald Bradman described Pollock’s performance in England in 1965 as sublime, when Pollock scored 125 runs at Trent Bridge. Wisden magazine voted Pollock as one of their five Cricketers of the Year in 1966.
Before South Africa was banned from international cricket during apartheid, Pollock played one of his best matches ever. South Africa beat Australia 4-0 and managed to make 274 runs, not out. This record was only broken by Darryl Cullinan 30 years later when South Africa played New Zealand. Ironically, he started and ended his Test career playing Australia, at the age of 26.
Graeme Pollock scored a total of 20 940 runs (including 64 centuries and 99 half-centuries) by the time he retired from the first-class game in the 1986/87 season. Pollock’s batting style was the left-arm legbreak and he batted some 3 743 balls in his time. His career spanned 26 years in the first-class game. His legacy inspired his brother Peter and his nephew Shaun, who both become international cricketers in their own right.
He has won numerous awards and accolades, including being voted as South Africa’s Cricketer of the 20th Century in 1999 and being retrospectively selected in 2007 as the Wisdon Leading Cricketer in the World in 1967 and 1969.
For more information visit: www.southafrica.info