Cricket World Cup: Pollock relishes conditions to enhance classic pedigree

South Africa's record-breaking all-rounder is eager to exploit English pitches

THE GENE pool that spawned Shaun Pollock was always likely to produce a cricketer of the highest quality. His father, Peter, was an opening bowler with 116 Test wickets for South Africa at 24.18 runs apiece, while his uncle, Graeme, is probably the best-kept batting secret of the millennium. In an international career restricted through isolation, he was still good enough to average 60.97 after 41 visits to the Test crease, second only to Sir Donald Bradman.

The younger Pollock has inherited both batting and bowling talents and goes into his first World Cup as one of the game's premier all-rounders. A few months ago he shot to the top of the pile as the quickest to accomplish the 1,000 runs-100 wickets double - achieving the feat in 68 matches and eclipsing Ian Botham, who took 75 - and was also the youngest, being 25 years and 253 days, beating Steve Waugh by 31 days.

Nevertheless, South Africa's vice- captain remains typically modest. "Records are there to be broken and mine will go, too," he says. "Obviously it was a wonderful moment for me because Botham was such a great player. It was always going to be that much easier for me because I don't bowl that much differently, whether it's in one-dayers or Tests. The adjustment isn't as big as it is for some others.

"However, I still believe the five-day game is the true test of someone's ability, but the boys do enjoy the one-dayers. The crowd plays a big part in creating the atmosphere and to only play in the Test arena would probably be a lot harder. Also, in South Africa we have a lot of one-day competitions, so it hasn't been that difficult adapting."

Pollock has been looking forward to the World Cup since captaining South Africa to Commonwealth Games gold in Kuala Lumpur last September. "We had a young team there and used the tournament to blood players like [Nicky] Boje, [Derek] Crookes, [Alan] Dawson and [Dale] Benkenstein. To have beaten a full-strength Australia in the final, captained by Steve Waugh, was a great feeling.

"I said at the time that Hansie [Cronje] could have the captaincy back. Now I am vice-captain for the World Cup and if something happens to him I must expect to take over. It's an honour, but captaincy has never really been an issue and besides, Hansie is still young. It wouldn't be the end of the world if I didn't ever captain South Africa again."

Pollock's rise to the top echelon of all-rounders has been nothing short of meteoric. His Test debut was against England on their 1995-96 tour of South Africa and his one-day baptism was against the same opponents.

He announced his arrival by winning the man of the match award and, well, the rest is now in Wisden. His county debut with Warwickshire in 1996 was equally dramatic, taking four wickets with his first four balls in a Benson & Hedges match against Leicestershire. "I would love to have another crack at the county scene, but I want it to be with Warwicks," he says. "I just have to wait until Allan Donald departs..."

The South African feels that the World Cup winners will come from the side with the strongest batting line-up, and, padding up at No 7, Pollock clearly feels his country are justified in being the bookmakers' favourites. "In England the ball nips around a lot in the morning. You can lose three wickets for nothing on those tracks and the movement the seamers get always has the batsmen in trouble. I think that us apart, the Australians will be very tough. They always are, while England will be in with a shout and perhaps a fourth side, Pakistan. It will come down to batting depth, but with Tendulkar, Jayasuriya, the Waughs and Lara there, anything can happen, honestly."

What is certain is that South Africa have done all their homework. They completed an intensive training camp in Cape Town, where they practiced with the same balls which will be used in the World Cup, and they also simulated likely English conditions, where the pitches aren't as hard and bouncy as they are back home. "We're ready to do the business. We all know what it's going to take to win and hopefully we will have a bit of luck along the way. Every team will need some," he says.

Pollock's provincial debut came in the 1992/93 season in a Natal side which included established Test players like Andrew Hudson, Jonty Rhodes and Pat Symcox. It was also laden with young talent in Lance Klusener, Crookes, Neil Johnson and Benkenstein. And, of course, one Test legend, the West Indian player-coach Malcolm Marshall.

"Marshall was a big influence on my career," says Pollock. "He taught us to have confidence in our ability and, while respecting opponents, not to feel inferior. He instilled in us that we were as good as anyone and at one stage was credited with the comment that I had one of the best bouncers he had seen because I had hit so many batsmen on the head.

"When he returned as coach of the West Indies side on their tour of the Republic at the beginning of the year he took a lot of flak. We whitewashed them 5-0 in the Tests, but we played some damn good cricket at crucial times in doing so. Maybe we weren't given the credit we deserved. They weren't as poor as people made out, but were affected by the absence of Jimmy Adams. Also, when you're on tour and results start going against you, it's really difficult to turn around. I think they showed back in their home country [against Australia] that they are still a force."

Pollock is one of those people who does not have a bad word for anyone, and he has become a crowd favourite in grounds around the globe. In their testing tour of Australia in 1996/97 Pollock won his way into the home hearts simply by returning an oversize beachball to the crowd, just as it was about to be seized and popped by a security guard. The official was jeered for the rest of the match, the player was applauded.

The 25-year-old fiery redhead has grown used to hearing cheers and, given his undoubted pedigree, there will be more Cup heroics. Enough to have father Peter and uncle Graeme saying silently: "That's my boy."

Suggested Topics
News
Bobbi Kristina Brown with her mother Whitney Houston in 2011
people
News
The actress Geraldine McEwan was perhaps best known for playing Agatha Christie's detective, Miss Marple (Rex)
peopleShe won a Bafta in 1991 for her role in Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit
News
The guide, since withdrawn, used illustrations and text to help people understand the court process (Getty)
Ministry of Justice gets law 'terribly wrong' in its guide to courts
News
Starting the day with a three-egg omelette could make people more charitable, according to new research
scienceFeed someone a big omelette, and they may give twice as much, thanks to a compound in the eggs
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsPatrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
News
Robert Fraser, aka Groovy Bob
peopleA new show honours Robert Fraser, one of the era's forgotten players
Life and Style
Torsten Sherwood's Noook is a simple construction toy for creating mini-architecture
tech
News
Top Gun actor Val Kilmer lost his small claims court battle in Van Nuys with the landlord of his Malibu mansion to get back his deposit after wallpapering over the kitchen cabinets
people
Sport
David Silva celebrates with Sergio Aguero after equalising against Chelsea
footballChelsea 1 Manchester City 1
News
i100
News
peopleHere's what Stephen Fry would say
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Richard Dawkins is known for his outspoken views
people
Life and Style
L’Auberge du pont de Collonges (AFP)
food + drinkFury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Arts and Entertainment
Bourne's New Adventures dance company worked with 27 young Londoners to devise a curtain-raiser staged before New Adventures' performance of Edward Scissorhands
theatreStar choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links