One of the Good Guys

With the retirement of Shaun Pollock at the weekend another of the world's best players of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries has left the stage, following last year's farewells to Lara, Langer, Warne and McGrath.

With Shaun Pollock I was in at the start, having the (good or bad) fortune to be at Newlands when he ran through England's insipid batting in his fifth Test in the first week of January 1996. Almost everything he did then he continued to do throughout his career, right up to the nip-backer which removed the hapless Runako Morton on his last day in Test cricket on Saturday: Gun-barrel straight run, the highest of high actions, consistent line and length, enough movement to test the very best. The only thing Pollock lost was the extra ration of pace which defined him as a very, very good (if not quite great) bowler, rather than just another seamer.

The other thing worth remembering about Shaun Pollock was that he couldn't half bat when the mood took him. I recall seeing a particularly hard-hitting knock of 62 at Trent Bridge in August 2003 which gave a vivid glimpse of a player with the genetic ability to have become a top-order player if he'd wanted - or needed - to.

Pollock's retirement also signifies a continuing shifting of the guard in South African cricket. He was one of the central components of the teams which set South Africa back on the straight and narrow after isolation with Cronje, Rhodes, Donald, the Kirstens and Wessels, among others. All are long gone and now Pollock joins them, although the older representatives of the next generation down - Gibbs, Kallis, Boucher and Ntini - are still, with the exception of Gibbs, going strong, and will be seen in England this summer, when they'll give England plenty to think about.

The bottom line, though, at a time when all the talk is of international cricketers' behaviour, is that Pollock, emphatically, was one of the good guys.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've not seen a cricketer as well-behaved as was Pollock...he was a very good team man and a very good performer...He has given his best to cricket and I can't forget the innings that he played against the Asian XI...

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