Harsha Bhogle talks to cricketers and administrators

'The strength of the pound is very attractive for South Africans'

Part three: Shaun Pollock on getting the captaincy before he was ready for it, and why South Africa loses players to England (00:00)

November 18, 2010


Shaun Pollock

'The strength of the pound is very attractive for South Africans'

November 18, 2010

DURBAN - MARCH 3: Shaun Pollock of South Africa holds his head in frustration as rain falls during the ICC Cricket World Cup match between South Africa and Sri Lanka at Kingsmead Cricket Ground in Durban, South Africa on March 3 , 2003.
"It was also a bit difficult when I took over the captaincy. Hansie was given a lot of power and from the board's perspective they decided that they wanted to cut that back quite a bit" Shaun Botterill / © Getty Images

Harsha Bhogle: You are a man of religion in some ways, aren't you, Shaun? Did you talk to God a little bit; did you have conversations with God about where your life was going, where your career was going?

Shaun Pollock: Yeah, I think God is not really in cricket games - he is more concerned about you individually, your personality and what you are. From that perspective I was lucky to have that all the way through my career. I did not really understand where my talents had come from, so I did not get ahead of myself or think that I was too good. I realised that the talents were only on loan and that at some stage they will be taken away. So it kept everything in perspective for me, and I think that was the calming influence that allowed me to just get out there and try and do the best I can.

HB: Why taken away? That's an interesting line - "…that I thought my talents were on loan and would be taken away".

SP: Well, they are, because I knew I couldn't play forever. There is going to come a time when you retire. Those cricketing talents that I was blessed with were only part of my life for certain period. I think once you are finished you understand it even more. It's only a phase of your life, and I was very fortunate to have done things the way I did, and I really enjoyed it.

HB: Do you think you were almost too nice to be a captain? Too easy-going?

SP: I don't know about that. I think for different people, different styles, different personalities work as leaders of a team. I think for me the biggest thing was that I wasn't really the man who was going to take over the job - it was almost like by default that I was given the captaincy because of Hansie. Maybe two years further down the line, people would have realised, "Okay, he is going to take over." And they would have been ready to accept my ideas and whatever. It was also a bit difficult when I took over the captaincy. Hansie was given a lot of power and from the board's perspective they decided that they wanted to cut that back quite a bit. So it was difficult to implement strategies. But I felt when I finished the captaincy that my record was pretty good, and I felt that I still had a quite lot to offer and wanted to lead the team in a certain direction… but as I say, that's life.

HB: That was a slightly frustrating time for you, wasn't it? The captaincy had moved, and then suddenly Graeme Smith was the captain, you weren't getting the new ball… Was that frustrating for you, because you didn't enjoy it? I know you didn't.

SP: Well, I don't know about frustrating. I think you are going through a new phase and you have to try and work things out again. You know you have obviously been doing things a certain way and now you are not doing them. You are not involved in making decisions. You are down at fine leg, sort of picking your nose a little bit, the new ball has been taken away, so how do I adjust, how do I stay effective? It involves a thought process of me going back to remembering that what I always wanted to do was play cricket for my country. So whatever I had to do going forward to make sure I did not jeopardise that. Just involves a bit of a different mindset, and putting a lot of attention into helping the young guys.

HB: You were a pretty young man in 1991-91, and very soon you had started to play for South Africa. Those must have been fantastic times in South Africa. And it's difficult to believe that it has been 18 or 19 years now since then. Do you think South Africa has done enough in world cricket? Do you think they have done what they could have done? Or could they have done better?

SP: Yeah, don't scare me… I think in 1991 I was writing my metric exams, watching the bad footage on TV of South Africa [in India]…

HB: Terrible footage. You don't have to be kind all the time. It was terrible.

SP: It wasn't great. You couldn't see much. Yeah, but it was exciting though. The timing was perfect - finishing school, going to varsity, and now we are back in international cricket. I wanted to be an international cricketer and it couldn't have worked out better for me.

"Probably a few World Cups, and maybe a few more Test series wins would have put South Africa on A+. But I would say on our report card so far, since we have come back, I would definitely say A"

From a South African perspective we did really well. The fact that we had been out of cricket for that length of time and fit back in so quickly and were really competitive… I think we did really good. We had a few issues. We are a unique country, we've got our own challenges. I think if you had to give us a mark, I would probably say that we have done A. Probably a few World Cups, and maybe a few more Test series wins would have put us on A+. But I would say on our report card so far, since we have come back, I would definitely say A.

HB: Do you sometimes look at that England line-up and look at those top five and think that they are playing for the wrong team?

SP: No. I think obviously people like Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen have done really well. When you do see them, you say, "Jeez, I wonder if they had just stayed, then what would they have brought to the mix and what kind of career they would had in South Africa." But no, I think people like Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior moved a lot earlier, and they established themselves and they made a reputation for themselves there.

HB: You are a unique dynasty in South African cricket. If you were a young kid today and you found a couple of roads blocked for you, then would you consider going to England, serving out time there? Or would the Pollock name be so strongly South African that you wouldn't be allowed to do that?

SP: Yeah, I wouldn't think I would have made that move. I have gone over to play county cricket but as a South African. But you know, it's become business, and I think that's the big thing that people need to understand: that there are jobs out there and there is money to be made. The strength of the pound is very attractive for South Africans, and opportunity, as I mentioned - 18 counties; there is an opportunity to play. It is an unfortunate thing but that's the economics of the world.

HB: How much of a problem is it, therefore, for South African cricket?

SP: I think it is a problem, but I don't think it is a massive one. I think we have a good system of identifying players. I mean, in India, sometimes you go out to lesser places and you come across a guy who is 23, and you say, "Gee, it looks like he is a good talent" and you get him involved.

In South Africa we identify young talent at the age of 12. We have got these weeks where each guy represents his province. So in general, a lot of the talent that is around is identified and earmarked for future success. There's a couple odd who slip through the net and that is unfortunate.

Posted by sriramsv81 on (November 18, 2010, 11:19 GMT)

why you people never post my comment most of the time? Hold on to your harsha the golden boy. No one dare critisize him. ESPN has a good image. Cricket is popular in India. So what if i critisize him that's not gonna make people turn off ESPN.

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