Cricket: Danger of a pair on the prowl

Henry Blofeld applauds a command performance from a deadly partnership
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The Independent Online
THERE is now the same ring to the Donald and Pollock (Shaun) fast- bowling partnership as there was to Heine and Adcock in the Fifties and there would have been to Pollock (Peter) and Procter, had it not been for South Africa's sporting isolation, which began in 1970 when they were at their peak. Fast bowlers have always operated best in pairs and the great partnerships trip off the tongue.

Allan Donald is the most fearsome, but Pollock has become an admirable junior partner. It is tempting to describe the less outwardly fearsome of the two as a foil, but this implies an inferiority which would be unfair to Pollock, for he is an ideal complement to Donald, who, at Lord's, has been simply magnificent, moving the ball both ways at great speed.

Pollock does not have the same searing pace, but his control is good - he moves the ball away from the right-hander and he has a nasty bouncer. Above all, he is also an aggressive bowler who is constantly at the batsman, asking different questions from Donald.

Almost always, the fiercest of two fast bowlers effectively takes wickets for his partner. Fred Trueman did this for Brian Statham, a bowler with an outwardly less exuberant, but equally effective method. Nonetheless, a batsman who had defied "Fiery Fred" could make the mistake of thinking Statham an easier opponent.

Undoubtedly, Pollock owes some of his wickets to Donald too, but this is not to detract from his skill. The controlling influence at Lord's was not so much poor England batting as a masterly exhibition of fast bowling. In 1948, for example, that pair of great Australian fast bowlers, Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller, under Don Bradman's captaincy, destroyed England. The England batting then was led by two of the all-time greats, Len Hutton and Denis Compton, with Bill Edrich not all that far behind. A detailed analysis of the strokes that got them out would almost certainly produce the same answers that Atherton, Hussain and some of the others have produced now.

England badly need six batsmen with the attitude of Ken Barrington who, every time he went to the wicket, took the worthy intention of establishing squatter's rights. He went out to bat for the day and often did. But his technique was not constantly being distorted by the demands of one-day cricket.

What has been so impressive about Donald and Pollock at Lord's has been the manner in which they have been able to collect themselves after they bowled so badly at Edgbaston. They bowled only seven overs between them in the gap between the two Test matches. Instead, they worked extremely hard in the nets. Their rhythm has returned and, with it, their control. Now they have given a royal command performance which has more than made up for Edgbaston.