Cricketers pick their favourites

'An absolute master of placement'

Part two: Ian Chappell on the best centuries he has watched. No. 2: Graeme Pollock's 274 v Australia in Durban (00:00)

Producer: Ranjit Shinde

July 24, 2012


Graeme Pollock, 274 v Australia, Durban

'An absolute master of placement'

July 24, 2012

Graeme Pollock bats, England v South Africa, first Test, 1965
Graeme Pollock: perfect timing, immaculate placement, never unbalanced © PA Photos

Graeme Pollock
274 v Australia, Durban, 1970

The 1970 tour of South Africa by the Australian team was a disaster for Australia but very good for South Africa. Australia had lost the first Test match by nearly 200 runs, and went to Durban, where South Africa batted first. Barry Richards came from Durban; he was a Natal player. He was 94 not out at lunch on the first day. He probably would have been 100 not out - he would have got to his hundred before lunch if Bill Lawry hadn't undone his boots and then done them up again and wasted a bit of time.

I think it was Alan Connolly who got a wicket in the over before lunch, second ball of that over, and I think it was Ali Bacher who got out. When we went in for lunch, the whole ground was buzzing with the name Richards because he was the hometown boy.

We come out after lunch, with Graeme Pollock coming in at No. 4. He's facing with the wicket having fallen, and he hit two or three fours off the remaining balls in that over. He just... bang, bang, bang. And at the end of the over, he just stood back, leant on his bat and sort of looked in the direction of the pavilion.

I was in the slips, and Keith Stackpole was next to me, and I said, "Stacky, we've got a problem," and Stacky said, "What's that?" And I said, "This bastard is going to see how many Richards gets and then he is going to double it." I was wrong. Barry got 140 and Graeme got only 274.

It was typical Graeme Pollock. He was an absolute master of placement of the ball, particularly through the off side. He used to have this really wide stance. People used to say that he didn't use his feet much. That's true, he didn't use his feet a lot, but the little bit that he did use was just enough to get him balanced. I never saw him play a shot when he wasn't balanced and his weight wasn't going in the direction where it was supposed to.

He was also one of the first guys to use a pretty heavy bat. Graeme is a tall guy, 6ft 3in probably, probably around 14st [88kg approx], quite a strong guy. And he used a bat that was about 2lb 10oz [1.1kg approx] in those days. He didn't really thrash at the ball, but he was a great timer, and his placement was immaculate.

He was really an annoying batsman for somebody who fielded in the covers. He would always hit the ball into the gaps and you had to chase it. Because he didn't seem to hit it so hard, you always thought that you had the chance of catching it, but the damn thing always beat you to the boundary.

This innings, he just decided: "All right, people, you think this Richards, a new bloke on the block, you think he is a really good player. Just don't forget about me. I can play too." Here, to me, was a guy, right from the start of the innings, determined to prove that he was still the No. 1 batsman in South Africa. He didn't have to convince me, but he did that with his 274.

Posted by   on (July 25, 2012, 1:09 GMT)

I watched this match. I was on the bank opposite the stand and remember saying to myself . 'watch this very carefully as you will never see the likes of this again'

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