Born on July 16, 1973, one of South Africa’s finest all-rounders Shaun Pollock was born in Port Elizabeth. He came up during an era when arguably one of the best all-rounders ever Jacques Kallis was taking giant strides in international cricket. However, Pollock too produced some brilliant performances and produced many match-winning spells and innings for sides. On his birthday, let’s take a look at some interesting points about Pollock.
Family of cricketers: Pollock comes from a family of cricketers. However, only his father Peter and uncle Graeme went on to play Test cricket for South Africa. However, his grandfather, great uncle Robert Howden and cousins Andrew Pollock and Anthony Pollock too played First-Class cricket. He made his Test debut when his father was the convener of selectors for South Africa.
4 in 4: Pollock picked up 4 wickets off 4 deliveries in a 50-over match for Warwickshire against Leicestershire at Birmingham in 1996. Greg Macmillan, James Whitaker, Phil Robinson, and Darren Maddy were Pollock’s victims. Also, this was Pollock’s first match for the team.
Most innings without hundred: Pollock decided to play as a specialist batsman in the Afro-Asia Cup in 2007, held in India. In the first of the three-match series, Pollock slammed 130 off 110 deliveries – his first and only ODI ton – in pursuit of Asia XI’s target of 318. Pollock brought up his maiden ODI ton after 189 innings, which is the longest anyone has had to wait to get his maiden ODI ton. His score of 130 was the highest score by a No. 7 batsman then, surpassing Mohammad Kaif’s 111 against Zimbabwe in the ICC Champions Trophy 2002. Pollock’s record stood for just 4 days, as MS Dhoni scored 139 at Chennai to claim the record. The record for the highest individual score by a No. 7 batsman is now held by Luke Ronchi, who scored an unbeaten 170 against Sri Lanka at Dunedin in 2014.
Handy tailender: You don’t associate big centuries with tailenders, but Pollock was different. He could walk into any team as a genuine batsman. However, the fact that he batted lower down the order, added more depth to the South African side. He has the record of scoring two tons batting at No. 9. The first one was the 111 against Sri Lanka in 2011 at Centurion. A few months later he struck an unbeaten 106 against West India at Barbados. These were the only two centuries in Pollock’s Test career.
Stranded on 99: Pollock became the first captain to be stranded on 99. He was unbeaten on 99 in the second Test between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Centurion in 2002. Recently, Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq too achieved this unwanted feat in his farewell series against West Indies at Jamaica. Pollock was only the fourth player after Geoffrey Boycott, Steve Waugh and Alex Tudor to remain unbeaten on 99 at the end of an innings.
Pollock the spinner? When South Africa toured Sri Lanka in 2006, Pollock was at the fag end of his career. He had already lost pace and was the first change, sometimes second change bowler, with Makhaya Ntini and Dale Steyn sharing the new ball. After being smashed around the park in the second Test at the P Sara Oval, Pollock resorted to off-spin and managed to control the run flow. However, Sri Lanka managed to win that match by a solitary wicket.
First South African to 400 wickets: Pollock was the first South African cricketer to pick up 400 Test wickets and is still the leading wicket-taker for his nation with 421 scalps – most till date by a South African. Dale Steyn is the only other South African bowler to have picked up over 400 wickets.
Four World Cups: Pollock appeared in 4 editions of the World Cup between 1996 to 2007. Allan Donald too has played in 4 World Cups. Only Jacques Kallis has appeared in more (5). Pollock finished with 31 wickets from as many matches and scored 279 runs in those matches at 17.43.
A teetotaller: Pollock is an avid follower of Christianity and a teetotaller. “We’ve tried to get him to drink even a little half glass of liquor, but he’s not interested,” his former teammate Herschelle Gibbs revealed following Pollock’s final Test appearance for South Africa, according to Espncricinfo.com‘s section called “Quote Unquote.”
Disastrous 2003 World Cup: Pollock was sacked after a disastrous outing in the 2003 World Cup after taking over from Hansie Cronje in 2000. South Africa are no strangers to dramatic exits from the mega event. But this time, they crashed out after their last group stage game against Sri Lanka was tied. Needing 230 to win from 45 overs, South Africa managed 229 and failed to make it through. Pollock was sacked as captain and the rein was handed over to Graeme Smith, who had played just 22 ODIs till then. However, he went on to become one of South Africa’s greatest leaders.
Honoured by government: Shaun Pollock became the fourth South African cricketer after Basil D’Oliveira, Eric Majola, Makhaya Ntini to be conferred with the Order of Ikhamanga Silver (OIS), which is given out by the President of South Africa for outstanding achievements in arts, culture, literature, music, journalism, and sports.
Award from father: Pollock received an award from his father Peter in his penultimate ODI for South Africa at Durban on February 1, 2008, against West Indies. South Africa won that match easily and also Pollock’s final match to complete a 5-0 whitewash.
Family: Pollock is married to Patricia Lauderdale, with whom he has two daughters – Jemma (Born 2003) and Georgia (Born 2006). Lauderdale was one of the finalists in the Miss South Africa beauty pageant in the early 90s.