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G-Man
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And so farewell Shaun Pollock, retired from test cricket after 421 wickets and more than 4000 runs in a career spanning a decade, fittingly with an innings and 100 run win over the West Indies to which he contributed five wickets, on his home ground in Durban.

In his heyday, Pollock was every bit as good as Glenn McGrath. Quality human being too.

Doubtlessly, having been discarded as an automatic choice last year contributed to Pollock's decision to retire; though at 34, his body was starting to give in. It's a good sign for SA that someone like Pollock could be dropped.

The next SA bowler to look out for is Dale Steyn, who has taken eight fifers in 18 tests. He is, however, not a bowler in the Pollock mould -- accurate, stingy and dangerous -- but more an Allan Donald kind of aggressive speedster.

Now to find someone to replace Nel...

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G-Man
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Pollock deserves better than to exit from OTF on a duck. Credit this leg-by as a run.
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Your Own Personal Jihad
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He doesn't get on with Smith at all, he's not part of that clique.
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Raskolnikov
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quote:
In his heyday, Pollock was every bit as good as Glenn McGrath. (G-Man)
Pollock was a very good bowler, but he never achieved the level of greatness that McGrath (or for that matter, Donald) did. He was consistent way beyond the right of reasonable expectation, but too rarely devastating. In 108 tests he took five wickets in an innings only sixteen times, and ten in the match only once (10/147 v India at Bloemfontein in 2001, only five of which were top six batsmen).

By comparison:
code:
Player___Inns_Wkts__BBM_____Avg___SR__Econ__5WI__10WM
Ambrose__179__405___11/84___20.9__54__2.30__22___3
McGrath__243__563___10/27___21.6__52__2.49__29___3
Donald___129__330___12/139__22.2__47__2.25__20___3
POLLOCK__202__421___10/147__23.1__58__2.39__16___1
Wasim____181__414___11/110__23.6__55__2.59__25___5

Pollock as a matchwinner (Inns/5WI):
code:
Donald:___6.5
Wasim:____7.2
Ambrose:__8.1
McGrath:__8.4
POLLOCK:_12.6

And the real test - vs Australia:
code:
Player___Inns_Wkts__BBM_____Avg___SR__Econ__5WI__10WM
Ambrose__51___128___10/120__21.2__52__2.4___8____1
Wasim____21____50___11/160__25.8__60__2.6___4____1
Donald___24____53____9/133__31.1__62__3.0___2____0
POLLOCK__23____40____9/148__36.9__80__2.7___1____0

Pollock's greatest bowling - the 7/87 vs Australia - typified his career: relentlessly hard-working (he bowled 41 overs), but short of genius. As admirable an achievement as that was, it does not compare to the carnage that the truly great fast bowlers are capable of wreaking. Ambrose & co had the ability to win test matches, and sometimes series (e.g Ambrose at the WACA in 1993), in the space of overs. Pollock never managed to do that.

So - a nice guy, certainly, and a good bowler. Just not a great one.

[ 14.01.2008, 21:53: Message edited by: Raskolnikov ]

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goldstone97
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Good lord, Donald's strikerate was outstanding. Is he tops in that department for fast bowlers in the modern era?

[ 14.01.2008, 22:06: Message edited by: goldstone97 ]

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Raskolnikov
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code:
Player___Mat__Wkts__SR
Waqar_____87__373___43.4
Shoaib____46__178___45.7
Marshall__81__376___46.7
DONALD____72__330___47.0
-----
Murali___118__723___54.2
Warne____145__708___57.4

Dale Steyn, Shane Bond, and Mohammad Asif all have superior strike rates, and James Franklin and Stuart Clarke the same, but all have played fewer than twenty-five Tests. Simon Jones has a SR of 47.8. (Best ever: George Lohmann, 1886-96, 122 wickets, SR 34.1.)

[ 14.01.2008, 22:24: Message edited by: Raskolnikov ]

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fritz in a fez
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he is shaded by malcolm marshall.

also remember thatambrose was often used as a stock bowler and a strike bowler so his strike rate suffered.

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goldstone97
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Cheers. Is there a trend to them heading down now, with batsmen tending to play more aggressively?
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Raskolnikov
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Steyn and Bond are #2 and #4 in the all-time SR list (over 2,000 balls bowled), but the next current players are Shoaib (#15) and Mohammad Asif (#16). Of the top twenty, twelve retired before 1960. So, on the basis of that comprehensive statistical analysis... apparently not.
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goldstone97
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Yeah, I kind of meant compared to the 70s/80s/90s, not pre-60s. Not that I said that, obviously.
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Raskolnikov
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Top 25, 1970-2007, >2,000 deliveries, increasing SR

DW Steyn (SA) 2004-2008
SE Bond (NZ) 2001-2007
Waqar Younis (Pak) 1989-2003
Shoaib Akhtar (Pak) 1997-2007
Mohammad Asif (Pak) 2005-2007
JJC Lawson (WI) 2002-2005
MD Marshall (WI) 1978-1991
AA Donald (SA) 1992-2002
JEC Franklin (NZ) 2001-2006
SR Clark (Aus) 2006-2008
SP Jones (Eng) 2002-2005
GJ Gilmour (Aus) 1973-1977
CEH Croft (WI) 1977-1982
DW Headley (Eng) 1997-1999
Shabbir Ahmed (Pak) 2003-2005
J Garner (WI) 1977-1987
Sir RJ Hadlee (NZ) 1973-1990
MA Holding (WI) 1975-1987
B Lee (Aus) 1999-2008
D Gough (Eng) 1994-2003
S Sreesanth (India) 2006-2007
GD McGrath (Aus) 1993-2007
DK Lillee (Aus) 1971-1984
M Ntini (SA) 1998-2008
IR Bishop (WI) 1989-1998

Two totally unrelated facts:

G Boycott career dates: 1964-1982
S Gavaskar career dates: 1971-1987

[ 14.01.2008, 22:42: Message edited by: Raskolnikov ]

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King o' the Rye
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On a similar theme
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Raskolnikov
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Yeah. I think it's been generally acknowledged throughout Pollock's career that he just lacked that little bit extra to elevate himself to the first rank of quick bowlers. That and he never fulfilled his potential as a batsman. Did do a good job taking over from Cronje.
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G-Man
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Interesting article, KotR. It seems strange to me that Pollock is regarded with such certainty as an all-rounder. In SA he tended to be regarded as a bowler who could bat pretty well.

Kallis is regarded more as an all-rounder, but essentially he'll be remembered for his batting.

I think the idea of measuring a man's career by five-wicket hauls or performances against Australia are too random to place much stock in them. It's easier to get five wickets when you have few other wicket-takers in the side, and not so easy when your colleagues shorten the odds of getting a fifer by taking wickets themselves.

I'm not persuaded that the match-winning stats are valuable either. Often Pollock tied up one end, allowing Donald or Ntini to make breakthroughs at the other. As a team-man, Pollock was SA cricket's equivalent of football's Didier Deschamps, who certainly was a, perhaps the. keyman in France's 1998 World Cup win.

The fact is that Pollock frequently headed the bowling rankings, and has excellent stats.

When the writer concedes that Pollock's problem is one of charisma, he is right. And it is for the same reason that he hints at doubts regarding Jacques Kallis. I suspect there is a lot of hey don't look like giants, so they cannot be giants.

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Raskolnikov
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Looking at 5WI gives you a general indication of their ability as a matchwinner, and as it is bowlers taking wickets that win test matches, this can certainly serve as a shorthand for greatness. Pollock was more of a control bowler, certainly, and his nagging accuracy undoubtedly assisted both Donald and Ntini - but McGrath is the epitome of that particular bowling style and he turned in a significantly greater number of game-winning performances than Pollock. It is undoubtedly harder to take many wickets in an innings as part of a group of four or five top class bowlers, as opposed to being the stand-out star (as Murali's figures testify eloquently), but Ambrose (Marshall, Bishop, Walsh), McGrath (Warne, Gillespie, McGill), Donald (POLLOCK, de Villiers), Wasim (Imran, Waqar, Shoaib, Saqlain, Qadir) all bowled with some pretty competitive team-mates.

Comparing bowlers' performances against Australia (in recent times) tells you how good they were when the going got tough, as opposed to how their career figures were padded out with 4/40 in both innings vs Bangladesh (again, see Murali), or the like. Ambrose's greatness is evident in his ability to rise to the challenge of the Australians, while the huge difference between Pollock's career average (23.1) and his average vs Australia (36.9) suggests something more than just the usual South African mental block.

While a single statistical snap-shot is certainly not a guaranteed measure of a career, Pollock's figures consistently suggest that he was just a little short of greatness. (One of those cited in the Guardian article is further evidence to support that suggestion - % wickets vs top order batsman.)

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