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News

Fresh row overshadows Pollock century

A fresh row erupted at SuperSport Park on Sunday, overshadowing a thunderous century from Shaun Pollock as South Africa carried their first innings to 566 for eight on the third day of the five-day match against India

Peter Robinson
06-Feb-2008
A fresh row erupted at SuperSport Park on Sunday, overshadowing a thunderous century from Shaun Pollock as South Africa carried their first innings to 566 for eight on the third day of the five-day match against India.
Pollock hammered out 113 not out off 109 balls in an innings played in much the same vein as his 111 off 106 balls against Sri Lanka in a real Test at the same venue in January. The pity of it all was that for much of his innings almost the entire contingent of journalists and commentators was quizzing United Cricket Board president Percy Sonn about an interview given by UCB chief executive Gerald Majola to the Press Trust of India on Saturday.
The controversy had to do with the wording of an answer given by Majola in which he seems to say that had the ICC come up with the R40-million which the UCB would have lost had no match been played at Centurion, South Africa might well have said tough luck to India.
Speaking in the context of the financial reasons for South Africa's decision to appoint their own match referee to ensure that some kind of game took place, Majola says: "If the ICC could have said to us, listen, we'll give you the R40-million you'd lose, or whatever you'd lose, I'd have said to the Indians we can't (play the match)."
The wildest interpretation of what is basically a restatement of the UCB position since Thursday (whether you agree with it or not) is that Majola was demanding a bribe to toe the ICC line, whether for himself or the UCB the accusers have not made clear.
Sonn, meanwhile, held an impromptu press conference at which misunderstanding heaped upon incomprehension and which served very little purpose except, perhaps, to emphasise that South Africa's position on the argument which is still to come about the status of this game is by no means clear.
Pollock has made it clear that neither he nor his team regards as an official Test match nor should it be designated one in hindsight. The UCB may well take their cue from the players' view in which case South African support for India's case that the match is an official Test cannot be taken for granted.
All the while, Pollock was thumping the Indian bowling around the ground, clubbing nine fours and seven sixes as the touring team wilted on a humid day. The pitch, slow and with uneven bounce on the first day, has flattened out into a fine batting strip, a point underlined as Makhaya Ntini scored an unbeaten 34 in helping Pollock add 121 for the ninth wicket.
In normal circumstances this would have been Pollock's third Test century (by the same token Jacques Kallis's 110 would have been his 10th Test hundred) and it would have been an excellent day for South Africa. The lead, when rain brought play to a halt 36 minutes before the scheduled close, was 334, but the home side are bound to bat on on Monday.
Pollock and Ntini, for instance, would probably like to have a tilt at the 195 scored by Pat Symcox and Mark Boucher against Pakistan in 1997/98 (the Test record for the ninth wicket) if for no other reason than to have something to hold over Boucher in dressing room.
Kallis seemed impregnable until he got out, yorked by Anil Kumble, and his form as South Africa turn their attention to Australia is assuming heroic proportions. The South Africans will have their fingers crossed hoping that it travels well.
The whole affair, though, has done very little credit to anyone involved as principles have been jettisoned and common sense thrown out of the window. Whether it will all lead to the much-feared split in international cricket remains to be seen, but it would be nice to believe that something positive could emerge from it all - a just, fair and workable disciplinary process, for instance.