Pollock looking forward to Calcutta clash
It's been a long wait, but for Shaun Pollock, the South African allrounder, it's been well worth it. The full itinerary for South Africa's tour of India in November has finally been announced, and it has put Pollock in position to realise one of his few unfulfilled cricketing dreams.
South Africa's short but daunting tour kicks off on November 14 with a three-day warm-up match against India A at Jaipur, before the first Test starts on November 20 at Kanpur, followed by the second and final Test at Calcutta from November 28. It is the last venue that is of particular interest to Pollock, who has harboured a long-standing ambition to perform at Calcutta's Eden Gardens, the scene of South Africa's return from isolation in 1991-92.
The South Africans have played at Eden Gardens before, thumping India by 329 runs there on the 1996-97 tour, but on that occasion, Pollock was sitting at home at Durban nursing his ankle. "I missed that tour because I had to have an ankle operation and that's the last time we've played in Calcutta," Pollock said yesterday after the first day of the national team's training camp at Pretoria.
He continued: "So I am really chuffed that we are going to play there on this tour. There are a couple of stadiums around the world that cricketers really want to experience. The Melbourne Cricket Ground is one with a crowd of 90 000, but Eden Gardens probably gets even bigger crowds. I haven't even played in a one-day international there, so it's going to be pretty special."
Lance Klusener, Pollock's Natal team-mate, is back in the Test picture after an absence of almost three years, and he is also looking forward to returning to the venue, eight years earlier, almost to the day, where he made his debut as a 25-year-old. Back then, an incredible five days lay in store for Klusener as the wristy Mohammed Azharuddin pounced with the deadliness of a panther in the first innings, slamming a breathtaking century off 74 balls. The stunned debutant finished with none for 75 in 14 overs, Azharuddin hitting him for five successive boundaries at one stage.
But Klusener showed his determination in the second innings. Shouldering tremendous responsibility after Allan Donald, the fast bowler, had been laid low by a severely bruised heel, he tore through the Indian batting line-up, finishing with 8 for 64 as India were restricted to 137 all out to lose by 329 runs.
"Yeah, I've got fond memories of Eden Gardens," Klusener said with typical understatement. "We had a fantastic win there last time, but India have got a lot stronger since then, though it will be great to be back in Calcutta."
Ken Borland is the Johannesburg journalist for MWP