Cricket was running in the genes of the Pollock family. Shaun’s father Peter too was a fast bowler for the Proteas in the 1960s. His uncle Graeme too played for the country. Since Shaun’s childhood, he knew cricket was the path that was destined for him.
Early Life and Debut
Born on 16th July 1973. Shaun was graduating from the university of Natal. Since those days he caught people’s eye with his length bowling and his ability to swing the ball both ways from the same length.
Shaun made his debut at the age of 22 in the year 1995 against England. At that time, his dad was on the selection committee. But Shaun silenced the critics even before they could speak or write about seeds of nepotism.
In his debut test match, things went out of hand as rain poured in heavily resulting in only the first innings being completed successfully and that too England could only bat. Even then Pollock pinned 3 batsmen to kick start his career.
In 1996, Pollack played for Warwickshire to explore first-class cricket and picked up 4 wickets in 4 balls and this was a testimony of a future superstar in the making.
Pollock made his ODI debut in 1996 against England in the same match as Jacques Kallis. In his debut, he scored 66 runs and took 4 wickets. To date is
one of the most successful entries to ODI cricket.
Also Read | Jonty Rhodes - Born to Field
Rise To South Africa’s Most Successful Bowler
In his early days, he formed an unstoppable duo with another legend of the game Allan Donald. Both the bowlers brought the best out of each other and the worst out of the batsmen facing them.
Once Donald retired, Pollock was the lead bowler of the side and continued to rise the ranks with his disciplined bowling and swinging abilities.
Pollock’s best performance came in Adelaide, Australia in 1998 when he took 7/ 87. Along with his success as a bowler, Pollock was contributing decently with the bat too. He scored more than 7000 runs in international cricket with the help of 3 centuries to his name.
Captaincy and Downfall
Considering his overall performances and dealing with the Hansie Cronje scandal, Cricket South Africa decided to make Shan Pollock the captain.
Pollock served as a captain for 3 years, but his captaincy drew a lot of criticism as his leadership skills weren’t as sharp as his bowling skills. South Africa lost 3-0 in Australia, failed to qualify to the next rounds in the 2003 Cricket World Cup. These failures became the reason for his sacking as a captain.
Although he didn’t let his captaincy affect his bowling, in fact in 2003, the worst year for him as captain, was also the best year for him as a test bowler. He was even awarded Wisden Cricketer of the year in 2003.
Decline In Tests and Retirements In All Formats
Pollock suffered a back injury before a tour against Australia, it was the start of the decline. He then missed a few matches here and there in the long format of the game and his impact as the lead bowler was decreasing with coming matches. Pollock was also replaced as the opening bowler and now was given the role of first change.
However, his ODI form was never a doubt he kept performing at high standards. He won consecutive Man of the series against India and Pakistan in the 2006-2007 season. His ODI’s decline started during the 2007 World Cup when his lack of pace was exposed and exploited by the opponents.
Pollock didn’t stretch his lack of form and decided to retire from Tests and ODI's in 2008.
Post-retirement Pollock played for Mumbai Indians for a year and later he joined Supersport as a pundit and a commentator which he continues to do even today.
Also Read | Greatest South African Cricketers of all time
Statistics and Records
Shaun Pollock picked 421 wickets in 108 tests. When he retired, he retired as the leading wicket taker in tests for the Proteas before Dale Steyn broke his record. However, his 393 wickets in ODI remains a record for most wickets by a South African bowler in international cricket.
Combining all the formats Pollock has 823 wickets, which makes him the leading wicket-taker for South Africa. He is also the 7th highest wicket-taker in world cricket.
He too holds the record for taking the most ODI wickets when playing on home soil (193). Pollock also holds the record for bowling most Maiden overs in ODI history (313).