With a father like Peter Pollock, a veteran bowler for South Africa, and an uncle like Graeme Pollock – who holds the second highest Test batting average in history – it’s no wonder that Shaun Pollock has excelled as a sportsman. “I’ve been playing cricket for as long as I can remember,” he said, according to www.christianity.net.au.
Pollock’s transition from backyard cricketer to mainstream player was fairly conventional. He represented Natal Schools, South African Schools, the Natal B side, the Natal As and then went on to the South African seconds. He eventually joined the national team and soon became captain.
He formed an alliance with now-retired South African bowler Allan Donald and this was the recipe for many successful matches with their fast bowling attack. It is his superb control of the cricket ball that made Pollock the highest wicket-taker in South African history in 2004 – even surpassing Donald’s previous record of 330. He holds an impressive average of less than 22 runs per wicket.
Pollock’s rise to captain of the SA team was initially out of necessity. When then-SA skipper Hansie Cronje’s role in the match-fixing saga came to light in 2000, Pollock was forced into his shoes. He surprised many by driving the Proteas to victory over Australia the very next day after the initial word of the saga got out. Although this was an excellent start for the new captain, it did take him a while to bring his team back to the standard set by his predecessor.
2001 was a mixed year for Pollock. He and the Proteas made history by becoming the first side ever to win both the Test and limited overs series against the West Indies in the Caribbean. Unfortunately, it was also the year that the political strain on the team started to show. The Proteas were hammered 3-0 by Australia in Australia at the end of that same year.
With Pollock at the helm, South Africans saw their team pull off some magnificent feats until they began to lose form just before the 2003 World Cup. The team performed poorly which cost Pollock his otherwise successful captaincy, even though he picked up 8 wickets at 21.50 per wicket.
But it wasn’t long before Wisden cricket magazine named him one of its five Players of the Year in 2002/03, which was only fitting for a player who had accomplished so much. With Pollock’s contribution, few nations can compete with the performance of the South African team who continue to impress.
By Dasen Thathiah
Some information sourced from www.safrica.info