When one talks about South Africa cricket, the Pollocks are considered one of the best cricketing families to have stamped their authority in the world.
Graeme Pollock averaged 60 during his Test playing days and was considered one of the greatest players to have come from the country.
Peter Pollock was one of the finest bowlers to have emerged before the Proteas went into sporting isolation from 1970. 25 years later, another one of the Pollocks would go on and establish himself as one of the greatest in the business.
Shaun Pollock, the nephew of Graeme and the son of Peter, had a career that would make South Africa one of the best teams in the world.
Under Shaun Pollock’s stewardship and presence, South Africa developed a crop of fast bowlers that would continue to make the team one of the best in the business. Pollock turned 47 today on July 16 but 12 years ever since his international retirement in 2008, his feats continue to be the envy of the world.
Shaun Pollock was the original gold standard of South Africa bowling, becoming the first player to go past 400 Test wickets. He finished his career with 421 wickets in 108 Tests and his record stood for 11 years until Dale Steyn, another great bowler managed to break his record and become the leading wicket-taker for the Proteas.
In a tribute by the International Cricket Council (ICC), there was a remarkable statistic on Pollock. In his 11-year international ODI career, Pollock was the No.1 bowler in seven seasons. In the remaining times, he was in the top 3. One has to really analyse deeply to figure out which bowler managed this feat.
Such is Shaun Pollock’s brilliance that we all recognize him as one of the best bowlers in the history of Test cricket.
But, not many have pointed this out, but Pollock deserves to be known as one of the best all-rounders ever.
We all talk about the legendary feats of Gary Sobers, Jacques Kallis, Kapil Dev, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee and Ian Botham.
But, so under-rated is Pollock’s batting that he is in the top league of greats when it comes to all-rounders in Tests.
The criteria established was that the player needed to average 30 or more with the bat and should have scored over 3000 runs in addition to over 200 wickets. This puts Hadlee out as he managed to average just 27 with the bat in Tests. This table gives the total picture of why Pollock should be considered one of the greats.
|3000 runs and 200 wickets elite all-rounders|
|Sir Ian Botham||102||5200||33.54||383||28.4|
|Shakib Al Hasan||56||3862||39.4||210||31.12|
Shaun Pollock and Kapil Dev are the only all-rounders in the list to have over 400 wickets. However, Kapil was a brilliant batsman and his 5248 runs at that time was a testament to his brilliance as an all-rounder. On the other hand, Pollock’s bowling average of 23.11 is second-best only to Imran Khan and this makes him simply the best.
Pollock has also scored over 3000 runs and taken over 350 wickets in ODIs, making him the only player in the history of the game to achieve this feat in both ODIs and Tests. Pollock’s batting average of 26.45 in ODIs and bowling average of 24.5 makes him sensational. However, in ODIs, his feats get tremendously overshadowed by the brilliance of Kallis and Lance Klusener.
In the shadow of McGrath
The mid-90s and the start of the first decade of the new millennium saw a blessing in fast bowling talent in both Tests and ODIs. The metronomic accuracy of Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock, as well as the pace of Brett Lee and Makhaya Ntini.
Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis in their prime heydays as well as the brilliance of Allan Donald and Jacques Kallis.
England had their own with Darren Gough while India’s Javagal Srinath and Sri Lanka’s Chaminda Vaas held forth.
Pollock and Donald formed a lethal pair and they were at the forefront of South Africa’s emergence as a genuine force in the mid-90s and the mid-2000s along with Australia.
A closer look reveals that in Pollock’s entire 12-year career, he was always under the shadow of McGrath. The Australian pacer had aced his craft so brilliantly that he had a magnificent record everywhere.
McGrath had more wickets, his average was spectacular and his economy rate was mind-numbing.
Such was McGrath’s brilliance that Pollock’s greatness was overshadowed. But, in no way, does this diminish Pollock’s greatness.