August 28, 2014

The mighty Mr Pollock

Graeme Pollock has been among the top three finest players his country ever produced; and not far off that pace in the world rankings either
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In his pomp: Pollock bats against the West Indian rebels in 1983
In his pomp: Pollock bats against the West Indian rebels in 1983 © Getty Images

Graeme Pollock is unwell. Another former South African cricketer, Lee Irvine - a man of no mean achievement himself - clarifies the situation. "Though Graeme is cheerful enough, the ailments include a tumour in the colon, which was removed last year, the early stages of Parkinson's, and minor problems with speech that are quickly improving after a recent stroke." Apparently the great man is not flush with funds either, so good people, such as Irvine and friends, are coming together to help.

Pollock was a phenomenal batsman. Honestly, unless you saw him it is hard to imagine just how phenomenal. Jacques Kallis is South Africa's finest-ever cricketer but Pollock, along with Barry Richards many would say, is that land's greatest batsman.

Hartley Alleyne, the Barbadian, bowled to him during the rebel matches in 1982-83 and was routinely pumped either side of helpless fielders to the boundary. It was like the action was on a loop - Alleyne runs in, bowls on a good length at off stump and Pollock leans forward to drive. The ball scorches across the turf. Next ball, Alleyne runs in, bowls short of a length and Pollock leans forward and.... Next ball Alleyne runs in and bowls short and Pollock rocks back and... on and on it goes. Part in shock and part in amazement, Alleyne got into the habit of stopping once or twice on the way back to his mark before turning to stare at his opponent and then shake his head as if in awe of the talent and power that was punishing him.

These matches against the rebel West Indians came in the autumn of a career that began in 1960, when at just 16 years of age he made a hundred for Eastern Province in the highly competitive Currie Cup. Like many of these freak sportsmen Pollock was a boy prodigy but is now a man running out of years. He is 70, so not hopelessly old by any means, and is loved and cared for by a marvellous girl. But life is not what it was. For a time golf was able to cover for, if by no means replace, the thrill of competitive cricket, but even that has become a strain.

Let us dwell on the figures for a moment. Graeme played in 23 Tests and scored 2256 runs at 60.97 per innings. Only Donald Bradman has bettered that. Bradman himself was a fan, so much so that at the Sydney Cricket Ground, when Pollock became the youngest South African to score a Test match hundred - he was still 19 years old and on his first tour - Bradman said to him "Next time you decide to play like that, send me a telegram."

Some of his performances are the stuff of South African folklore. The 125 at Trent Bridge in 1965 was made in two hours and 25 minutes, while only 35 were scored at the other end. A year and a bit later in Cape Town he came in at 12 for 2 and made 209 against Australia despite a thigh injury that restricted him to mainly back-foot play - this from perhaps the finest front-foot driver of the ball that the game has seen.

The most revered innings, however, remains the 274 in Durban in 1969-70, when Australia were beaten in all four Tests. Those who saw that day's play - most of South Africa, you tend to find when you visit! - regard the batting by Pollock and Richards as incomparable, though Mohammad Azharuddin and Sachin Tendulkar had a crack at it at Newlands in 1997 with a blitzkrieg of their own against Allan Donald and company.

He is a tall man, six feet and two inches at a guess, with immense upper-body strength and surprisingly skinny legs. He was more into boundaries than ones and twos, and famously told a batting partner, Mandy Yachad, who was eagerly pushing the deep-set fieldsmen, to "cut the athletics and concentrate on giving me the strike"! Though his stance was orthodox in the early years, it became wider and wider as time passed, and he found a method of transferring his weight forward and back without ever seeming to play through anything other than the line of the ball.

There are tales of a 60-over Gillette Cup match in which he scored 222. And a marvellous anecdote about Alleyne hitting him on the head in a one-day game in Port Elizabeth and delighting that the devil had to leave the field for stitches. Then Hartley corpses as the story continues with the devil's return to the wicket an hour or so later, after Sylvester Clarke had taken a wicket with the first ball of an over. Wearing a helmet, but without a grill, Pollock smashed all remaining five balls for four or six.

Alleyne loves that story and over a cold Banks beer or a rum and coke back in Barbados he loves to talk "Pollock talk" and laugh about Pollock's absurd level of control and domination. "That man, the man, Pollock man, that man Pollock, he could bat," he says, totally star-struck. And he adds that only "Viv" could intimidate bowlers in such a way. Probably Sir Garfield Sobers too.

Pollock was more into boundaries than ones and twos, and famously told a batting partner, Mandy Yachad, who was eagerly pushing the deep-set fieldsmen, to "cut the athletics and concentrate on giving me the strike"!

Anyway, these memories are relevant when building a picture of the man, for there is another issue that South African cricket might address sooner rather than later. Pollock was one of three truly superb cricketers denied a full Test match career because of the isolation imposed on South Africa during the ghastly years of a government that pursued an apartheid policy. The others are Richards, who played four tests, and the thrilling allrounder Mike Procter, who played seven. There were many other wonderful cricketers during the 1970s and '80s - it truly was a golden age - and they too were denied the fulfilment of their gifts. Talk about being born at the wrong time.

The shame is that these three cricketers, along with every other white player to represent South Africa prior to the ban in 1970, have been discarded by the current administrators. Their memory has been erased from honours boards and photographic displays. The numbers on the caps and shirts worn by the present team begin in 1992, when a fully representative XI first took the field after the ban was lifted. Thus Kepler Wessels is the "first" man to play for South Africa because he captained the side on its return to Test match cricket against West Indies in Barbados in 1992. This is mean-sprited and discriminatory in itself. Pollock once took this up with a senior figure within Cricket South Africa and was told to get lost. What would he have had Pollock do? Turn down the chance to play cricket for his country?

The great history of South African sport is built upon the legacy left by each generation. Pretending something did not happen is fruitless. It happened. There can be no defence for the appalling politics of the time, nor can there be an excuse for the racism that existed in cricket at all levels. Arguing the place of privileged white cricketers when millions of black people were so degraded will touch many nerves and outrage many hearts. But was not Nelson Mandela's greatest wish the wish of forgiveness? "We can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than the opposite."

Perhaps now, with Hashim Amla appointed as South Africa's first non-white captain, Cricket South Africa could reconsider their trenchant position. Amla himself, such a sensitive and intelligent man, may in time wish to lead the way. He is in charge of a fine team and players of all backgrounds are a part of that. Clearly Amla is comfortable in his own skin, as the administrators who have worked so hard for modern South Africa should now be. Acknowledging the great sportsmen of the past is the warmest hand of reconciliation they could offer.

That way Pollock, wherever this present journey may take him, will be properly recognised for the life he has given to the game and the talent that once adorned it. The last word comes again from Mr Mandela: "It always seems impossible until it is done."

Mark Nicholas, the former Hampshire captain, presents the cricket on Channel 9 in Australia and Channel 5 in the UK

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | September 2, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    With regard to the authors comments about South Africa Test Match Players prior to 1970,it appears to me that it is very hypocritical by the powers to be to extinguish the Test Match records prior to 1970,and start from scratch in 1992.If this is done to salve the conscience of the nation as a whole it is pretty petty to degrade players who through no fault of their own and being born in the wrong place and at the wrong time have to carry this stigma.

  • POSTED BY bobbitt on | September 2, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    Having grown up in that era (15ys younger than GP), I was constantly in awe of him. As an aspiring quick bowler, it was amazing to witness his talent 1st-hand - "See Ball, Hit Ball, effortlessly, anywhere" It made me decide (amongst all the other reasons e.g. isolation, ability..) to pursue a career in business, rather than cricket! In that era, it was not uncommon for 1st class cricketers to show up in the club circuit. If my memory serves, Old Edwardians was the fixture to avoid, as an opposition bowler. It is tragic that he has fallen on hard times - I hope that Lee will promote the appeal - I know I will donate. I pray that he is able to to live out a deservedly comfortable life, as the true legend and inspiration to ALL of SA.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | September 2, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    No you are not understanding me I checked 12 players at random after 23 tests (see below) there is only one 'what if' and that is RGP all the others played out a full career into their thirties. and 100% all their averages went down. even Bradmans. Yet one eyed SAFFA supporters on here are claiming that if RGP had played out a full career he would have been the only exception his average would not have gone down. so he is the single case that we can speculate on, and had he played for another 10 years he would have faced much better bowling than he had ever done. It is easy to talk the talk. Saffas who claim RGP would have hammered the Windies quicks did so safe in the knowledge that he would never face them in a test. WSC Packer gave him a chance he turned it down !!

    Averages After 23 tests

    Hussey 74.83 Sutcliffe 67.48 Compton 66.67 Walters 63.14 Harvey 62.97 Weekes 62.33 Morris 61.67 Richards 61.55 Worrell 61.00 POLLOCK 60.97

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | September 2, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    @peter56,I'm afraid that your logic is flawed by to many what if's,are you saying that the top 12 players in the all time list of batting averages are not worthy of that position because the never faced the so called super fast bowlers of the seventies.These players are where they are because they played against the best available bowlers at that time.These records are in the book and unless there is a new standard introduced to take into account the standard of the opposition they will stand for all time and it gives the current players something to aim for,but alas the top 12 has not changed since 1974 when Gary Sobers retired.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | September 2, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    How do we know that RGP would not have maintained an average of 61 beyond 23 tests? Reason (1) it may surprise people but 12 batsmen had a higher average than RGP had after 23 tests, none of them could maintain the average they had after 22 tests until the end of their careers, their averages all fell Even Bradman. RGP would have gone down like everyone else. indeed in his next 5 tests his average did go down to 55 from 28 tests .He never faced genuine express pace or world class spin in his test career. reason (2) so if he averaged 61 against the B string bowlers of the sixties it stands to reason he would have averaged even less if he had faced the A string bowlers of the 1960's. If he had been able to continue his career on for another 10 years, I defy anyone to say he could have dealt with the fast men of the 1970's. They were way quicker than anything he had ever faced before. why did he avoid all the really fast men by not playing against them in world series cricket?

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | August 30, 2014, 21:02 GMT

    For those who have not seen much of him, go to youtube n see some of his innings, I have also seen him live in TV after the SA entry back into intnl fold when the SA40 clashed with India 40 . On a turning track, his front foot cover drive of Venkat is still etched in my memory..at that time he was 50. Even they talk very high of his 250 against the rebels in 1980's

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 30, 2014, 17:21 GMT

    @peter56,alas the batting average is what the records show.It doesn't really matter what constitutes a First Class Game,the batting average is in the score book for all of eternity.To become so petty because of the status of the game is in my opinion demeaning to all the players who contributed to the 1970 series of Test Matches played in England.Can you really be so negative about Greame Pollock's progress in Test Match Cricket,when through no fault of his,he was not allowed to progress his Test Match Career beyond 1970.Alas you can only play against what is put in front of you,if you think that the bowlers of the day where not of Test Match Standard then surely that is not Graeme Pollock's problem.We also have numerous comment's that Graeme Pollock only played 23 Test Matches and that his average would have fallen if he had played more Test Matches,were is the proven detail of this would have actually happened.The Record Book show's a Test Match average above 60,the second ever.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 29, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    to me this RGP 60.97 average stat is one of the 3 or 4 most misleading of all the so called iconic test stats. Just go to cricinfo batting records fastest to 2000 test runs. 10 batsmen have better test records than Graeme at that stage of their careers!! AS we see in his last test series for ROW his average had dropped down to 55.69. I think his average might have settled around the 50 mark, given that RGP . was very much a homebird. his home stats are much better than his away stats,he turned down numerous opportunities to play abroad, because he knew he was not suited to the grind of county cricket anymore than he would have been suited to the grind that test cricket became in the seventies .he would have been worn down very quickly, more so because of his lack of emphasis on the physical fitness side of the game. To be classed as an all time great you have to be able to excel all over the world and face all the best bowlers RGP only got to face 2 of the top 10 bowlers of the 60's !

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 18:00 GMT

    Pollock only got to play England Australia & a few v NZ. So had RGP been able to play weaker teams like Pakistan India Sri Lanka & a few more v NZ. who knows how many runs he would have scored @ average 65. WI were good but RGP was the master blaster against quick bowlers so Wes Hall could have been like "steak & chips with a castle/carib/watneys or a fosters" Remember there would have been home games as well not just on the sub-continent.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 14:04 GMT

    It brings tears to my eyes that the great man is unwell. He used to hit the picket fence regularly with flat sixes at St Georges Park in the 70's. My life's hero.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | September 2, 2014, 18:05 GMT

    With regard to the authors comments about South Africa Test Match Players prior to 1970,it appears to me that it is very hypocritical by the powers to be to extinguish the Test Match records prior to 1970,and start from scratch in 1992.If this is done to salve the conscience of the nation as a whole it is pretty petty to degrade players who through no fault of their own and being born in the wrong place and at the wrong time have to carry this stigma.

  • POSTED BY bobbitt on | September 2, 2014, 12:26 GMT

    Having grown up in that era (15ys younger than GP), I was constantly in awe of him. As an aspiring quick bowler, it was amazing to witness his talent 1st-hand - "See Ball, Hit Ball, effortlessly, anywhere" It made me decide (amongst all the other reasons e.g. isolation, ability..) to pursue a career in business, rather than cricket! In that era, it was not uncommon for 1st class cricketers to show up in the club circuit. If my memory serves, Old Edwardians was the fixture to avoid, as an opposition bowler. It is tragic that he has fallen on hard times - I hope that Lee will promote the appeal - I know I will donate. I pray that he is able to to live out a deservedly comfortable life, as the true legend and inspiration to ALL of SA.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | September 2, 2014, 12:16 GMT

    No you are not understanding me I checked 12 players at random after 23 tests (see below) there is only one 'what if' and that is RGP all the others played out a full career into their thirties. and 100% all their averages went down. even Bradmans. Yet one eyed SAFFA supporters on here are claiming that if RGP had played out a full career he would have been the only exception his average would not have gone down. so he is the single case that we can speculate on, and had he played for another 10 years he would have faced much better bowling than he had ever done. It is easy to talk the talk. Saffas who claim RGP would have hammered the Windies quicks did so safe in the knowledge that he would never face them in a test. WSC Packer gave him a chance he turned it down !!

    Averages After 23 tests

    Hussey 74.83 Sutcliffe 67.48 Compton 66.67 Walters 63.14 Harvey 62.97 Weekes 62.33 Morris 61.67 Richards 61.55 Worrell 61.00 POLLOCK 60.97

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | September 2, 2014, 9:21 GMT

    @peter56,I'm afraid that your logic is flawed by to many what if's,are you saying that the top 12 players in the all time list of batting averages are not worthy of that position because the never faced the so called super fast bowlers of the seventies.These players are where they are because they played against the best available bowlers at that time.These records are in the book and unless there is a new standard introduced to take into account the standard of the opposition they will stand for all time and it gives the current players something to aim for,but alas the top 12 has not changed since 1974 when Gary Sobers retired.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | September 2, 2014, 2:37 GMT

    How do we know that RGP would not have maintained an average of 61 beyond 23 tests? Reason (1) it may surprise people but 12 batsmen had a higher average than RGP had after 23 tests, none of them could maintain the average they had after 22 tests until the end of their careers, their averages all fell Even Bradman. RGP would have gone down like everyone else. indeed in his next 5 tests his average did go down to 55 from 28 tests .He never faced genuine express pace or world class spin in his test career. reason (2) so if he averaged 61 against the B string bowlers of the sixties it stands to reason he would have averaged even less if he had faced the A string bowlers of the 1960's. If he had been able to continue his career on for another 10 years, I defy anyone to say he could have dealt with the fast men of the 1970's. They were way quicker than anything he had ever faced before. why did he avoid all the really fast men by not playing against them in world series cricket?

  • POSTED BY espncricinfomobile on | August 30, 2014, 21:02 GMT

    For those who have not seen much of him, go to youtube n see some of his innings, I have also seen him live in TV after the SA entry back into intnl fold when the SA40 clashed with India 40 . On a turning track, his front foot cover drive of Venkat is still etched in my memory..at that time he was 50. Even they talk very high of his 250 against the rebels in 1980's

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 30, 2014, 17:21 GMT

    @peter56,alas the batting average is what the records show.It doesn't really matter what constitutes a First Class Game,the batting average is in the score book for all of eternity.To become so petty because of the status of the game is in my opinion demeaning to all the players who contributed to the 1970 series of Test Matches played in England.Can you really be so negative about Greame Pollock's progress in Test Match Cricket,when through no fault of his,he was not allowed to progress his Test Match Career beyond 1970.Alas you can only play against what is put in front of you,if you think that the bowlers of the day where not of Test Match Standard then surely that is not Graeme Pollock's problem.We also have numerous comment's that Graeme Pollock only played 23 Test Matches and that his average would have fallen if he had played more Test Matches,were is the proven detail of this would have actually happened.The Record Book show's a Test Match average above 60,the second ever.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 29, 2014, 20:55 GMT

    to me this RGP 60.97 average stat is one of the 3 or 4 most misleading of all the so called iconic test stats. Just go to cricinfo batting records fastest to 2000 test runs. 10 batsmen have better test records than Graeme at that stage of their careers!! AS we see in his last test series for ROW his average had dropped down to 55.69. I think his average might have settled around the 50 mark, given that RGP . was very much a homebird. his home stats are much better than his away stats,he turned down numerous opportunities to play abroad, because he knew he was not suited to the grind of county cricket anymore than he would have been suited to the grind that test cricket became in the seventies .he would have been worn down very quickly, more so because of his lack of emphasis on the physical fitness side of the game. To be classed as an all time great you have to be able to excel all over the world and face all the best bowlers RGP only got to face 2 of the top 10 bowlers of the 60's !

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 18:00 GMT

    Pollock only got to play England Australia & a few v NZ. So had RGP been able to play weaker teams like Pakistan India Sri Lanka & a few more v NZ. who knows how many runs he would have scored @ average 65. WI were good but RGP was the master blaster against quick bowlers so Wes Hall could have been like "steak & chips with a castle/carib/watneys or a fosters" Remember there would have been home games as well not just on the sub-continent.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 29, 2014, 14:04 GMT

    It brings tears to my eyes that the great man is unwell. He used to hit the picket fence regularly with flat sixes at St Georges Park in the 70's. My life's hero.

  • POSTED BY peter56 on | August 29, 2014, 9:38 GMT

    @ alatar01 :Yes you are right I remember the 1970 Rest of the world series of 5 tests against England. they were touted as the 'Olympics' of' 'test cricket, what they proved beyond any doubt was that: Sobers was the greatest batsman of his era. totally overshadowing both Pollock and Richards, with 588 runs. These matches were official tests until they were shamefully downgraded. the test stats in all publications during the 1970s were: Sobers Tests 98 runs 8620 average 58.63 (and as you say 55 was Graeme's average) Some people on here are saying that RGP had no weaknesses. this is not true he had a pronounced weakness against the off-spin of Fred Titmus in particular and even David Allen tied him in knots in South Africa too,( in the first 4 tests of 5 in 64/65.) So imagine what the far superior Legendary Indian spin quartet would have done to him, even more so as he never used his feet. being more a stand and deliver Sehwag type of batsman. Think he would have struggled in India

  • POSTED BY SLSup on | August 29, 2014, 6:21 GMT

    Reaction to Amit Patel: One rule where exceptions usually prove a rule is when you look at a players First Class average vs his Test average. Usually a player does better in Tests if they've consistently done well in First Class cricket. That's why Pujara was a curiosity to me because his 20+ Tests did place him in the 60th run mark - as did his First Class average. Then he fell precipicously to where he is within 6 weeks!

    However, if you look at Pollock's career, he's done great in First Class cricket to maintain an average well over 50 while he pushes well beyong that in Tests. It is not entirely accurate to suggest - if that's what was done - Pollock would NOT have averaged 60+ if he played more Tests. Sobers is nearly at 58 after 93 Tests and Sangakkar is nearly 59 after 128 Tests. Compare their First Class and Tests together and they do represent a reality that most don't consider.

  • POSTED BY alatar01 on | August 29, 2014, 3:14 GMT

    The South African team of 1970 didn't get to go through with plans for a Tour of England. Instead several were enrolled in a Rest of the World XI team that played five tests against a full strength England side. If the results of these games are included in their overall records (the five matches were initially given Test status) the figures of Pollock come down to earth significantly. In 5 "Tests" he scored 250 runs at an average of 31.25 with 1 hundred and 1 fifty. Combine these stats with his other 23 tests and you get 28 Tests 49 innings, 2506 runs at 55.69 with 8 hundreds and 12 fifties. Probably similar figures to Hussey at that stage. if you do the same with Barry Richards you get 9 Tests 15 innings, 765 runs at 54.64 with 2 hundreds and 3 fifties. Procter's figures actually improve and he did very well in the three WSC "Super Tests" as well - would have given all of the other all-rounders a run for their money!

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 2:46 GMT

    I played for Old Grey Graeme's loved club team, and had the pleasure of watching him score lots of tons. Very seldom he did not. I also played against him for several years and I can tell you that as an opposing captain field placing was extremely challenging. I still believe that I was the first captain to post an extra cover on the boundary for him, fact is he was not at all impressed either. Good luck Jeeps, hope you get back strong again!

  • POSTED BY on | August 29, 2014, 1:44 GMT

    Never liked him as a WP supporter. Always pleased to see him go out. Watched him score that 209 and many others during those years. The best batsman that I've ever seen and I've seen a few. My big regret was that he never played against the full WI side then (1970 -80) I live in the WI now and when I tell them they don't believe me that he would have cracked those 4 quickies of theirs to all 4 corners of the ground with power and Barry Richards with timing. He he To me he'll always be the prince of batsmen. All the best old sport.

  • POSTED BY android_user on | August 28, 2014, 23:32 GMT

    there are a good few batsman who averaged 60+ with 20 odd test under their belt; Hussey, Pujara, possibly Trott come to mind. Not saying Pollock wouldn't have maintained it or even possibly improved on it. It generally the case though there is certain amount of losing one's hunger resulting in greater amounts of dips and loss of form in a long career.

  • POSTED BY FieryFerg on | August 28, 2014, 20:05 GMT

    If they can rewrite history to make the SACB games 'first-class' retrospectively then recognising Pollock et al can be done. This is just mean-spirited and narrow minded prejudice at it's worst. But having seen the behaviour of some SA administrators - Percy Sonn comes to mind - no surprise.

  • POSTED BY eggyroe on | August 28, 2014, 19:06 GMT

    It is sad to hear that Graeme Pollock is unwell,but the delight he gave to spectators around the world will remain in the minds of those who were fortunate to witness what was happening before their very eyes for ever.A Test Match batting average above 60 on old fashioned uncovered wickets tells it all.If The Don was impressed by a 19 year old then that is more than good enough for me.Unfortunately,along with many other South African Sportsmen and Women. Greame Pollock was unable to fulfill his full Test Match playing potential because of where he was born and through no fault of his.

  • POSTED BY CricketChat on | August 28, 2014, 19:04 GMT

    To me Graeme Pollock is as good if not a better player than Barry Richards, Viv Richards, Gavaskar, Greg Chappell, Sobers, Sachin, Lara, Posting, etc. or any other batsmen in the history of the game, except, may be Bradman. Sometime ago, I saw a video of him batting for Rest of the world XI in a veteran's match in Australia against the likes of Jeff Thompson and other great bowlers. Pushing mid 60's, he was by far the most natural when it came to hitting the cricket ball. I hope SA gives him his due recognition and respect that he truly deserves. Though I never had the privilege of watching him live, I feel he is the best bat after Bradman in the history of the game.

  • POSTED BY Prodger on | August 28, 2014, 16:25 GMT

    Wonder why the 50 over game at the Wanderers was not acknowledged as the first ODI? Two full strength sides would seem to fill the criteria

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 16:21 GMT

    I was blessed with the opportunity to watch Pollock and Sobers batting together in 1970 for the Rest of the World against England on a sunny afternoon at the Oval. Pollock made 114, Sobers 79, surely there's never been another partnership like it - two of the greatest left handed bats of all time. It's a long time ago, but my memory suggests that Pollock on that day overshadowed Sobers. Sad to hear of his current difficulties, and even sadder to hear he is not recognised to the degree he should be in South Africa. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/220509.html is the scorecard..

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 16:09 GMT

    I saw him as a kid growing up in Port Elizabeth, he was GOD. I saw him hit a one handed six over point. Phenomenal power and grace plus a massive piece of timber. He would have put any attack to the sword.

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 14:33 GMT

    great player and a shame South Africa seem afraid of giving his career its due. In the same way the time and place was unfair for those who suffered under apartheid to consider him to have never played is ridiculous, ideally we learn from our mistakes and don't repeat them. For a great player he kept it very simple, 'see ball hit ball'.

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 13:13 GMT

    Pollock was without doubt the greatest batsman of the 60's along with Sobers. But does his case deserve a more special treatment than the countless minority who were given no chance to participate or excel in any sporting arena. Who is speaking up for them?

  • POSTED BY IndianInnerEdge on | August 28, 2014, 12:37 GMT

    Have seen only old videos of him, looks elegant yet imposing at the crease. Bit sad he is is in financial want...hope the cricketing community come together to help a champion in need....

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | August 28, 2014, 11:48 GMT

    In a full test carer Graeme Pollock may well have been 2nd to Bradman and the best left-handed batsmen of all if you asses his talent and ability to master all types of conditions and bowling attacks .In a total package his batting posessed ever component of a perfect batsmen .Pollock possesed the skill of a technician,the consistency of railway engine and the imagination of an artist.I would have backed him to even overshadow modern greats as a match-winner .It would have been a spectacle witnessing Pollock tackle the ferocious Caribbean pace attack of the 1970's.I would have also backed Pollock to be one of the one day greats with his ability to innovate shots .

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 11:41 GMT

    i first saw graeme pollock bat at the wanderers in 1967, in a 50-over match against the australians. he scored 132 not out and made me fall in love with cricket. barry richards or brian lara aside, i have never been as thrilled by a batsman as i was by pollock. to hear that he is sick and down on his luck is sad. typical of lee irvine, though, to help out; he is a kind and generous soul (and a fine keeper-batsman himself in his day)

  • POSTED BY PACERONE on | August 28, 2014, 11:40 GMT

    Truly a great batsman.Growing up Sobers and Pollock were thought to be the best.My friends thought Sobers was the best so conveyed on me the nickname "Pollock". Sorry to hear that he is not well and wish him the best getting help.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | August 28, 2014, 11:36 GMT

    Some critics place doubt over Pollock's ability to tackle hostile short-pitched bowling.However if one has memories of his tackling the Australian pace attacks in 1966 and 1969-70 at home and away one would class his skill with any modern great.Greg Chappell,Mike Procter and Barry Richards select Pollock over Tendulkar in their all-time xi.Gary Sobers is critical of this as he felt that Pollock was not sufficiently tested like Barry Richards and in that light Lawrence Rowe would also be ranked as an all-time great.The most important factor is the manner in which he scored those runs which made even Bradman rate Pollock as the best left-hander he ever saw.Geoff Armstrong ranked him in his top xi in his best all time xi's list.

    I would have backed Pollock to have been an all-time great t match-winner had he played in the modern era .Overall to me only behind Bradman,Hobbs,Tendulkar,Sobers,Viv Richards,Lara ,Gavaskar,Hutton and Hammond as a batsmen and inches ahead of Greg Chappell.

  • POSTED BY BellCurve on | August 28, 2014, 11:28 GMT

    It is typical of the zeitgeist in SA to disrespect the achievements of the Apartheid era. Hats off to Mark Nicolas for questioning this policy. The legends of the past - such as Faulkner, Nourse, Mitchell, Goddard, Tayfield, Pollock, Richards, Cook, Rica, v/d Bijl and Procter - had no influence over the politics at the time. Besides, many of them played before the mid-1960s when similar politics were practiced in the USA and Australia.

  • POSTED BY harshthakor on | August 28, 2014, 11:24 GMT

    It was tragic that his career was curtailed by the advent of Apartheid.Few batsmen ever posessed as much reserves of talent and arguably in terms of pure prowess Pollock even edged Sir Gary Sobers.He could tear the best of bowling attacks like a tiger tearing it's prey and master the worst of wickets with the skill of a surgeon performing an operation.He could dissect the most impregnable of fields like a cake being sliced to perfection.His match-winning average of over 84,average of over 70 in peak period and 2nd best test batting average of 60-97 speaks for itself.He proved his skill against testing Australian and English attacks.His 125 at Trent Bridge in 1960 ranks amongst the top 6 test innings of all time blending the technical skill of an engineer with the creativity of a musician.

    However Greame was not sufficiently tested against hostile short -pitched bowling like Barry Richards.Several greats still put him in their all-time xi with Viv Richards instead of Tendulkar.

  • POSTED BY aman15 on | August 28, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    @Rajan naidu FYI Akram younis marshall ambrose lillee thompson aren't the only world class bowlers who have existed . He faced other legendary bowlers like snow, garth mackenzie, benaud and judging by his exceptional record came out on top more often than not. In 1972 Lillee himself paid rich tributes to Snow going as far as to saying he was the best fast bowler he had seen till that point of time.

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    he never faced akram, younis, marshall, ambrose , thompson lillee etc. Plus he is faced the australians when they were not that strong. Basically a remnant of the previousn regime, G pollock was given all the oppurtunity while minorities had no facilities, little does the world know about that!

  • POSTED BY PhilCkt on | August 28, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    @srikanths - you probably saw him when South Africa tooks part in a Masters series in India in the early/mid 1990s. All the matches were shown in Doordarshan. Pollock was there, so was Barry Richards and others like Vintcent Van der Bijl, Garth Le Roux and Lee Irvine. If I remember correctly, South Africa played in three matches. Pollock score 30-50 in all three. He occasionally played graceful cover drives and hefty hits to leg but the memory that I have his that he had become too immobile in the crease. Richards failed in two but scored a hundred in the other.

  • POSTED BY jw76 on | August 28, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    One of the greatest of cricketers and, like Sobers, one of the nicest of men, quite unspoiled by his success. We wish him well, and hope that this excellent article will help to stir up what is needed to help him when he needs it.

  • POSTED BY Mad_Hamish on | August 28, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    @srikanths I don't know if it's the match you're thinking of but I saw him play in an exhibition match in Australia Sir Donald Bradman XI v World XI scorecard at http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1994-95/AUS_LOCAL/OTHERS/BRADMAN-XI_WORLD-XI_18DEC1994.html he made 89 from 71 balls in dec 94 which means he was 50... Admittedly the bowling wasn't particularly challenging but he hit the ball so cleanly and with such power while making it look so effortless.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | August 28, 2014, 6:54 GMT

    Have heard a lot of commentators liken the Aussie legend Hayden's batting style to that of G Pollock. Having seen how Haydos made bowling look hapless on his days, 1 can well imagine what the SA great would've done to bowlers back then.His recd. in both 1st class and test proves his class. The fact that it is bettered by no 1 but the mighty Don himself says enough.

  • POSTED BY Naresh28 on | August 28, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    Definitely one of the best, most elegant left handers of the past. Him and Barry Richards were a sight to watch in the past. There have been some really awesome past SA players. SLSup no use comparing two different eras together.

  • POSTED BY SLSup on | August 28, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    Reading this article led to view Pollock batting moments online as well as the entire segment on Pollock on Cricinfo Legends of Cricket. I wish Sanga is as domineering as Pollock was but available strike rates for both shows they scored at a slower rate. Pollock, Lara, and Sanga are perhaps the topmost left hand bastmen of the past 50 years. A most elemental comparison of available records certainly tells a tale.

    KUMAR SANGAKKARA:

    in Sri Lanka 2000-2014 71 116 11 6633 287 63.17

    in England 2002-2014 11 22 1 862 147 41.04

    in Australia 2004-2012 5 10 1 543 192 60.33

    in New Zealnd 2005-2006 4 7 2 334 156 66.80

    overall 2000-2014 128 221 17 11988 319 58.76

    GRAEME POLLOCK:

    in South Africa 1964-1970 14 26 4 1513 274 68.77

    in England 1965-1965 3 6 0 291 125 48.50

    in Australia 1963-1964 5 7 0 399 175 57.00

    in New Zealnd 1964-1964 1 2 0 53 30 26.50

    overall 1963-1970 23 41 4 2256 274 60.9

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Good write up as usual by this brilliant writer. Hope forgiveness ensues and G Pollock gets what he deserves from the cricketing community.

  • POSTED BY srikanths on | August 28, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Very sad to hear that Graeme Pollock is unwell. He is part of the cricketing folklore and for people like me who started following cricket in the late 60 s and early 70 s, SA thrashing of Australia in SA and subsequent banning of SA all added to the aura of what could have been and what cricket lovers missed. I recall seeing ( on TV ) some exhibition match when well in to his 40 s or even more ? when with minimal footwork just by deft use of hands he he was pummelling the bowlesr. I just can't recall when and where ?Just the image of him driving thru thye covers off the backfoot still lingers. I might have seen a few clippings of his batting .And to think that an all time great is short of funds when even second rate cricketers playing IPL make money several time over.Don't envy the current lot but feel bad for the older lot

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  • POSTED BY srikanths on | August 28, 2014, 4:07 GMT

    Very sad to hear that Graeme Pollock is unwell. He is part of the cricketing folklore and for people like me who started following cricket in the late 60 s and early 70 s, SA thrashing of Australia in SA and subsequent banning of SA all added to the aura of what could have been and what cricket lovers missed. I recall seeing ( on TV ) some exhibition match when well in to his 40 s or even more ? when with minimal footwork just by deft use of hands he he was pummelling the bowlesr. I just can't recall when and where ?Just the image of him driving thru thye covers off the backfoot still lingers. I might have seen a few clippings of his batting .And to think that an all time great is short of funds when even second rate cricketers playing IPL make money several time over.Don't envy the current lot but feel bad for the older lot

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 4:28 GMT

    Good write up as usual by this brilliant writer. Hope forgiveness ensues and G Pollock gets what he deserves from the cricketing community.

  • POSTED BY SLSup on | August 28, 2014, 4:34 GMT

    Reading this article led to view Pollock batting moments online as well as the entire segment on Pollock on Cricinfo Legends of Cricket. I wish Sanga is as domineering as Pollock was but available strike rates for both shows they scored at a slower rate. Pollock, Lara, and Sanga are perhaps the topmost left hand bastmen of the past 50 years. A most elemental comparison of available records certainly tells a tale.

    KUMAR SANGAKKARA:

    in Sri Lanka 2000-2014 71 116 11 6633 287 63.17

    in England 2002-2014 11 22 1 862 147 41.04

    in Australia 2004-2012 5 10 1 543 192 60.33

    in New Zealnd 2005-2006 4 7 2 334 156 66.80

    overall 2000-2014 128 221 17 11988 319 58.76

    GRAEME POLLOCK:

    in South Africa 1964-1970 14 26 4 1513 274 68.77

    in England 1965-1965 3 6 0 291 125 48.50

    in Australia 1963-1964 5 7 0 399 175 57.00

    in New Zealnd 1964-1964 1 2 0 53 30 26.50

    overall 1963-1970 23 41 4 2256 274 60.9

  • POSTED BY Naresh28 on | August 28, 2014, 6:24 GMT

    Definitely one of the best, most elegant left handers of the past. Him and Barry Richards were a sight to watch in the past. There have been some really awesome past SA players. SLSup no use comparing two different eras together.

  • POSTED BY electric_loco_WAP4 on | August 28, 2014, 6:54 GMT

    Have heard a lot of commentators liken the Aussie legend Hayden's batting style to that of G Pollock. Having seen how Haydos made bowling look hapless on his days, 1 can well imagine what the SA great would've done to bowlers back then.His recd. in both 1st class and test proves his class. The fact that it is bettered by no 1 but the mighty Don himself says enough.

  • POSTED BY Mad_Hamish on | August 28, 2014, 7:11 GMT

    @srikanths I don't know if it's the match you're thinking of but I saw him play in an exhibition match in Australia Sir Donald Bradman XI v World XI scorecard at http://static.espncricinfo.com/db/ARCHIVE/1994-95/AUS_LOCAL/OTHERS/BRADMAN-XI_WORLD-XI_18DEC1994.html he made 89 from 71 balls in dec 94 which means he was 50... Admittedly the bowling wasn't particularly challenging but he hit the ball so cleanly and with such power while making it look so effortless.

  • POSTED BY jw76 on | August 28, 2014, 7:36 GMT

    One of the greatest of cricketers and, like Sobers, one of the nicest of men, quite unspoiled by his success. We wish him well, and hope that this excellent article will help to stir up what is needed to help him when he needs it.

  • POSTED BY PhilCkt on | August 28, 2014, 7:52 GMT

    @srikanths - you probably saw him when South Africa tooks part in a Masters series in India in the early/mid 1990s. All the matches were shown in Doordarshan. Pollock was there, so was Barry Richards and others like Vintcent Van der Bijl, Garth Le Roux and Lee Irvine. If I remember correctly, South Africa played in three matches. Pollock score 30-50 in all three. He occasionally played graceful cover drives and hefty hits to leg but the memory that I have his that he had become too immobile in the crease. Richards failed in two but scored a hundred in the other.

  • POSTED BY on | August 28, 2014, 9:43 GMT

    he never faced akram, younis, marshall, ambrose , thompson lillee etc. Plus he is faced the australians when they were not that strong. Basically a remnant of the previousn regime, G pollock was given all the oppurtunity while minorities had no facilities, little does the world know about that!

  • POSTED BY aman15 on | August 28, 2014, 10:45 GMT

    @Rajan naidu FYI Akram younis marshall ambrose lillee thompson aren't the only world class bowlers who have existed . He faced other legendary bowlers like snow, garth mackenzie, benaud and judging by his exceptional record came out on top more often than not. In 1972 Lillee himself paid rich tributes to Snow going as far as to saying he was the best fast bowler he had seen till that point of time.