Pollock takes four wickets in four balls

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Leicestershire 182-9; Warwickshire 183-3 (Warks win by seven wickets)

Shaun Pollock, the South African fast bowler made a phenomenal start to his career with Warwickshire yesterday. In his fourth over, he dismissed four Leicestershire batsmen with successive balls reducing them to 9 for 5. In his 10 overs which he bowled straight off, Pollock took 6 for 21.

Gregor MacMillan tried to pull out of the way of the second ball of Pollock's fourth over which was short and it lobbed off what the umpire must have thought was the glove for first slip. The replays showed that the ball had come off the elbow.

The second ball was well up to James Whitaker and found a gap between bat and pad as he came forward. The ball brushed the pad and hit the middle and off stumps. Phil Robinson pushed half-forward to the next which again cut back and was caught at short leg off pad and then bat giving Pollock his hat-trick.

When he raced relentlessly in again Darren Maddy was beaten by the pace of the ball and maybe confused by the situation. An indeterminate defensive push sent a low, edged catch to Dominic Ostler at third slip.

This was the first time four wickets have fallen to successive balls in the Benson and Hedges Cup and the first time it has happened in county cricket since the Surrey and England off-spinner Pat Pocock did so against Sussex at Eastbourne in 1972. That was the final over of the match in which five wickets fell.

Alan Ward, of Derbyshire, took four wickets in four balls in the Sunday League against Sussex in 1970. In recent years this feat has been performed three times in India and Pakistan but it has only been done 19 times in first-class cricket in England since 1862.

This was, needless to say, a tremendous spell of bowling on a good firm pitch by Pollock who is on the tall side, lean, red-haired and wonderfully keen and athletic.

He runs in off 16 paces, gathering momentum with a pleasing fluency and bowls with a nice high action from extremely close to the stumps, moving in perceptibly closer in his actual delivery stride.

Pollock said afterwards with smiling modesty. "I'm very pleased. If someone had told me I would take six wickets with a hat-trick in my first game for Warwickshire I would have laughed at them.

"That first wicket in my second over (Vince Wells hooked and skied to extra cover) helped to calm me down. I had a few nerves to start with playing for my new county but I was happy with the pitch which seemed to do a bit although this sort of thing isn't going to happen all the time."

Would he keep the ball? "Dermot (Reeve) has got it off me as he wants it for his benefit." Then, with a smile, he went on, "you see I've got to keep on good terms with my captain."

Warwickshire's choice of overseas players continues to be inspired. Allan Donald (1993 and 1995), now their bowling and fitness coach, Brian Lara (1994) and Pollock are a considerable trio and after this initial performance by Pollock, Warwickshire, with five titles in the last two years, should be in the money again this season.

After such a devastating start to their innings - when Paul Nixon edged Pollock to slip in the 15th over they were 33 for 6 - Ben Smith and David Millns led a spirited recovery and they did well to reach 182.

Warwickshire's batting stuttered slightly when they lost three early wickets to careless strokes before Ostler and Trevor Penney saw them home with plenty to spare with a stand of 127 in 34 overs. No points for guessing the winner of the gold award.

Cricket Scoreboard, page 23


Four wickets with consecutive balls in England

1996 Shaun Pollock Warks v Leics, Edgbaston

(only time achieved in B&H Cup)

1972 Pat Pocock Surrey v Sussex, Eastbourne

(Took 5 wickets in the over and 7 wickets in 11 balls overall)

1970 Alan Ward Derby v Sussex, Derby

(only time achieved in Sunday League)

1956 Alan Walker Notts v Leics, Leicester

1951 Fred Ridgeway Kent v Derbys, Folkestone

1937 Bill Copson Derbys v Warks, Derby

1935 Alf Gover Surrey v Worcs, Worcester

1929 Dick Tyldesley Lancs v Derbys, Derby

1924 Herbert Peach Surrey v Sussex, The Oval

1914 Syd Smith Northants v Warks, Edgbaston

Alonzo Drake Yorks v Derbys, Chesterfield

1907 Frank Tarrant Middx v Gloucs, Bristol

Albert Trott Middx v Somerset, Lord's

1905 Walter Brearley Lancs v Som, Old Trafford

1895 Arthur Mold Lancs v Notts, Trent Bridge

Frederick Martin MCC v Derbys, Lord's

1893 Frank Shacklock, Notts v Somerset, Trent Bridge

1890 Jesse Hide Sussex v MCC, Lord's

1882 George Nash Lancs v Somerset, Old Trafford

1862 Joseph Wells Kent v Sussex, Brighton

Four wickets in five balls in Test cricket

1990-91 Wasim Akram Pakistan v West Indies, Lahore

1978 Chris Old, England v Pakistan, Edgbaston

1929-30 Maurice Allom, England v New Zealand, Christchurch

(on Test debut)