South African Cricket Legend: Graeme Pollock

Graeme Pollock, South African Cricket legend of the Century, retired as the second most successful Test Batsman ever with an average exceeding 60 runs.

It would take spectators a matter of minutes to seize on the fact that Robert Graeme Pollock, South Africa's Cricketer of the Century, oozed genius. Graeme, as he was known, was voted South Africa's Cricketer of the Century in 1999, to no-one's surprise but his own. Through a career cut short by the apartheid-induced sports boycott of South Africa, Pollock had played in a mere 23 test matches, but had already amassed seven test centuries along the way, including South Africa's highest ever test score of 274.

When he finally retired, Graeme Pollock had racked up a test average of over 60, second only to Sir Donald Bradman and far exceeding that of any other post-war player. His first-class average was similarly impressive and he had been chosen as South Africa's Cricketer of the Year on countless occassions and as Wisden's Cricketer of the Year in 1966.

Born in Durban on the 27th of February 1944 in the province now known as Kwazulu-Natal, Graeme Pollock was earmarked as a prodigious talent from the time he first appeared on a cricket field.

As a youngster, Graeme and his brother Peter used to stage 'mock' test matches in the garden outside their parent's house. Although he once took all ten wickets in a schools match with his leg-break spin bowling when he was ten-years old, it was his batting that captured the imagination.

At the age of sixteen, Pollock was chosen to appear for Eastern Province and soon made his mark by breaking the record for the youngest player to score a first class century while still at school.

At the age of nineteen, he broke the record for the youngest South African to score a double-century as well.

He was chosen for the 1963 tour to Australia but failures in the first two tests led some commentators to suggest that it would be a surprise if Pollock passed double figures during the entire series.

These doubts were firmly dispelled during the third-test, however, when he sscored 175, sharing a 341-run third-wicket partnership with opener Eddie Barlow, a record for a South African team.

Subsequent centuries followed against England and New Zealand.

During the 1965 tour to England, Graeme made 125 in gloomy conditions at Trent Bridge while all around him floundered, an innings described as sublime by no less an authority than Sir Donald Bradman.

In the second innings, Pollock scored 59 and with brother Peter taking 10 wickets in the match, the Trent Bridge test acquired the tag of 'Pollock's Match'.

Bradman, incidentally, described Pollock, along with Gary Sobers, as the best left-handed batsman he had ever seen play cricket.

In the last test series South Africa were destined to play before expulsion from the world stage due to apartheid in 1970, Graeme broke Jackie McGlew's South African record highest score of 255 not out, ending on 274.

He held this record for nearly thirty years until Darryl Cullinan exceeded this mark against New Zealand in 1999.

Graeme Pollock continued to play cricket until the 1986/87 season, ending his international career with a century, 144 against the rebel Australian team that toured South Africa during that year.

Both his sons, Anthony and Andrew, subsequently played cricket for Transvaal and Gauteng and his nephew Shaun was chosen to captain South Africa during the year 2000.

Test Statistics

M I NO Runs HS Ave 100 50 Ct

23 41 4 2256 274 60.97 7 11 17

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