Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Greatest South African cricketers: Graeme Pollock

 If averages is your gig, then there can be no doubt that Graeme Pollock presents a very compelling case for being South Africa's greatest ever cricketer. In fact, he was voted just that in 2000, and it is debatable whether anything has happened since to bring that finding into disrepute. A crunching left-handed batsman. he had it all. The cover drive, the leg glance, the pull, the hook the cut. The ferocity. Before Viv Richards had the temerity to not wear helmets at bowlers bowling at 90mph, you could argue that Graeme Pollock was the original Master Blaster. Standing at 6'4, with a "road sweeper" for a bat, he certainly could make his presence felt. Many say Barry Richards is the greatest South African cricketer to ever lace them up. He certainly played well enough to back up that assertion in the limited opportunities he got. However, any man who played an innings Bill Lawry called the greatest knock he'd ever seen, or is acclaimed as the best left-hander ever seen by The Don himself has a particularly strong claim to being the Greatest.

PROS: His 274 vs Australia is arguably the greatest knock ever played by a South African, and if you disagree with that then there's a chance you may find his 140 vs England to be the greatest knock by a South African. It's hard to argue with the greatness of a man who only put together two all-time tons in a very abbreviated career. Even more so when that career ended with an average of 60.97.

CONS: Unfortunately, a short career means you had a short career. Sounds obvious, I suppose but it's important to note when calling someone the greatest. How often has a player who only played 12 games in a 38-game season won player of the season, no matter how incredibly superlative that season was? That's the largest drawback. Secondly, when you look at Pollock's list of opponents, it does, unfortunately, have absolutely a suspicious deficit when it comes to subcontinental opposition. Not his fault of course, but his mastery of different conditions will forever remain.

The old man isn't in the greatest health at the moment, but he certainly was the cricketing equivalent of Thor when he dropped his Mjolnir.

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