Shaun Pollock has been dropped from South Africa's squad for the first Test against Pakistan at Karachi, three days before the match is due to begin. South Africa feel Pollock may not be as effective on pitches in the subcontinent as he once was and are keen to try out younger, quicker bowlers such as Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn.
This is the first time in his 107-Test career that Pollock has been dropped for any reason other than injury and unsurprisingly, he admitted to being both surprised and disappointed. "Obviously Mickey [Arthur, coach] had a discussion with me yesterday. We were looking to play 13 players in this warm-up match, and then were told 12 were allowed. Mickey told me I am not playing in this match because I am not playing the first Test as we are going with different options.
"I am surprised to have been eliminated already. When I was chosen for the squad, I thought I had a good chance to play."
As recently as the turn of the year, Pollock won a Man-of-the-Series award against India and in his last five Tests has taken 21 wickets. But he revealed that Arthur had spoken to him a few months ago about the shape of his future role on subcontinent tours; with South Africa due to tour Bangladesh and India in March next year as well, this could be a harbinger of things to come.
"Mickey feels I have a role to play especially in South Africa where pitches are more conducive," Pollock said. "But I don't think my job on flat subcontinent wickets is over. I know I can perform. Then it's up to selectors to take me for tours ahead.
"I have a good record in Pakistan and if the opportunity arises for the second Test, I will take it. It's disappointing, but you have to move on."
Pollock's record in the subcontinent is impressive. In 17 Tests in the subcontinent, he has taken 60 wickets. In Pakistan, he has taken 18 wickets in five Tests and helped script a memorable win in Faisalabad in 1997-98. If not on the field, then Pollock will at least be happy to play a role off it.
"For sure I have a role with the younger pace bowlers. I have experience in these conditions and even if I am not part of the team, it doesn't mean I can't be helpful for others with my experience. Any tips I might have I will pass on," Pollock said.
Pollock was also quick to reject the notion that he might be nearing the end of his career, or looking to switch to the Indian Cricket League. The ICL had made him an offer five months ago: "Am I taking Mohammad Yousuf's contract?" he joked. "They approached me and I was not interested then and am not interested now.
"I will take it season by season now as far as my career goes. I never look too far ahead. I've done well in recent series against India and Pakistan and feel I can contribute more to South Africa."