Harsha Bhogle talks to cricketers and administrators

'For me aggression was making sure that I gave nothing for free'

Part two: Shaun Pollock on his relationship with his fast-bowling partners, and his reluctance to sledge (00:00)

November 18, 2010


Shaun Pollock

'For me aggression was making sure that I gave nothing for free'

November 18, 2010

Shaun Pollock leads an unsuccessful leg-before appeal, South Africa v West Indies, 4th ODI, Durban, February 1, 2008
"I always wanted to win, but I always believed in trying to go about it the right way" © AFP

Harsha Bhogle: I guess it's easier now that you are out of the game, but when you look back, are you happy with everything? Are you satisfied with everything that you did?

Shaun Pollock: I have become a much better player since I've retired [laughs].

As a young kid you really just dream of playing for your country and hoping one day you can realise that dream. And when that's realised, you want to win games for your country. Then you look back - 13 years at the top level, playing for a country that always had the ability to beat anyone on their day… we had a lot of success. Yes, it was a great career, and my own personal success I enjoyed.

I think you wouldn't be normal if you didn't say that there's a few little things that I would have loved to have tweaked. I would've liked to win a World Cup - went to the World Cup on four occasions with a team that could go all the way and didn't manage to do it. Those are all things that you think about and say, 'Maybe, that would have just been nice and I would have been happy'… If someone said, "You're going to do it again, the way it happened, exactly the same," I would take it, there is no doubt about that.

HB: For a fast bowler to average 30-plus batting, that was very good in itself. But surely you were going to score a few more runs. If you write your script, you'd want a few more runs…

SP: Well, I will have to get that unofficial Test match brought back so that I can get a Test century [laughs].

HB: Yes, of course [laughs].

SP: But I think the way things transpired… you know, things don't work out all the right ways. At the stage of my career when I was looking to go up the batting order, all of a sudden Lance Klusener sprang into supreme form, and was the talk of all cricket. Then once he retired, Mark Boucher leapt ahead of me. I became captain all of a sudden. Can you push yourself up the order or…

HB: Of course you can, that's why you're the captain!

SP: Well, I don't know. I probably went the other way. I thought, because I am the captain I will try and play a lesser role. I think when you look back, you realise that it is a stage of your life, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

HB: It intrigues me how the fast-bowling combinations work. When you were starting out there were so many of those. There were, of course, Wasim and Waqar in Pakistan, there were Walsh and Ambrose - sort of different stages in their career - and then, of course, you and Allan Donald. Was it fun being part of a partnership like that?

SP: Yes, I think I was really fortunate. The decade of international cricket that I played in, as you mentioned, Walsh and Ambrose, Waqar and Wasim, and Javagal was probably as good an Indian bowler as they had. It was really the time to be involved. The other thing, the fear of West Indies, of those big quicks, and also what Akram and Waqar did for Pakistan cricket. And also the spinners involved, the Warnes and the Muralitharans, those kinds of guys are not going to come around every day. So to have been part of that set-up, I really do call myself lucky.

HB: Is it important being friends? They say that the opening batsmen should be friends, Hayden and Langer talk about how they were friends. Greenidge and Haynes probably never were, but do fast bowlers need to be friends as well as be able to play together?

SP: Yes, I think you do. But the biggest thing about the bowling partnership is that you complement each other. Allan was 145-plus, shaped the ball away. Myself, I was just maybe hovering around 130, tight to the stumps, nice and straight.

HB: You weren't 130 all the time. You started off being more than 130…

SP: [laughs] Yes, those were the early days. But yes, we complemented each other very well. I think if people were looking to score off someone then they were looking to score off me, because of the fear factor that he created. So fire and brimstone from one end and a bit of containment and good line and length from the other was a good mix, and that's what made us quite effective.

HB: Do bowlers talk about what they are going to do together to the batsman? Suppose there is a Lara that you are up against, or a Tendulkar or a Ponting that you are up against, do bowlers talk as a pair about what they are going to do… or, how does it work?

SP: I think you get different tactics that you want to implement. You want to give a certain player a working over. But it is also about the gut feel, as you are watching it all unfold. If Allan has got someone down that end, who he is really giving a hard time to, then you come in on holding things and making sure that that batsman stays on strike when he comes on. So there is a bit of partnership to it. Myself and Makhaya Ntini also struck up a good partnership, and as I say about my career, I was very fortunate to have those two guys. I think we complemented each other well and tended to work off each other.

HB: Yeah, I mean you look at Allan Donald and he is steaming at the other end, and I am sure you wanted to be a little faster as well. Were there day like that, when you said, "I would have enjoyed being a little quicker"?

"I think if I look back, and if someone said you had to pick one, then I think I would have gone for Mr Consistency. It sort of sits with me, the way I go about life and the way I go about things"

SP: There is no doubt that as a cricketer you would have loved to have been able to bowl as quick as Akhtar or Lee for a certain spell, or be able to turn your arm like Shane Warne or Muralitharan. There is no doubt that when you are part of the game you appreciate each other's ability and skills, and you wouldn't mind being able to do it once in a while. But I think if I look back, and if someone said you had to pick one, then I think I would have gone for Mr Consistency. It sort of sits with me, the way I go about life and the way I go about things. It is definitely my personality. So my bowling action and style and everything I did probably suited me.

HB: There is one thing one remembers about you - I don't remember you sledging too much or going hard at a batsman. If you did, then you hid it rather well. Is it part of growing up playing sport a certain way, or looking at sport a certain way?

SP: Yeah, I think…

HB: Or did you just conceal it well?

SP: [laughs] I think that's got to do with the way you are raised. My dad was involved in cricket from every perspective - from a player's, from the media's, from an administrator's, from a selector's perspective. He always gave me good inputs about the game, what it stood for, and the different values that it brought to the fore. So I always tried to play the game in the right spirit. I probably didn't show as much how competitive I was. If I was playing soccer before the game or test rugby - whatever we were playing, I was a very competitive person. I always wanted to win, but I always believed in trying to go about it the right way.

HB: So aggression is what Anil Kumble once defined for me as not telling the batsman what his family was up to last night but wanting to take a wicket every time you run in to bowl.

SP: Yes, that is pretty much like it. Aggression, I think, works in different ways. Some guys who have got the pace can get up someone's nose and really make life uncomfortable. But for me aggression will be making sure that I gave nothing for free, and that he had to work hard for every moment, and that I gave him a real test of his skills. Every once in a while you try and get a bouncer in, but the economical kind of guy that I was, I was a bit scared that it would probably disappear for a six or four, so I didn't do too many of those [laughs].

Posted by   on (November 22, 2010, 17:14 GMT)

As humble as one can get!! Miss ya Polly :(

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