The Electronic Telegraph carries daily news and opinion from the UK and around the world.

Headley made a howler in winding up the big man

Graeme Pollock

21 June 1998

Graeme Pollock finds some outstanding and double-edged fast bowling to enjoy

THIS is as good an all-round attack as South Africa have put in the field for many a long day, all the more formidable because it is backed up by superb fielding. That makes runs a premium for any batting side.

My one slight reservation is that Brian McMillan would have added an additional quality to the seam attack in these conditions. But I have sympathy with the selectors: it is always very dicey to meddle with the top order.

There was talk of Jacques Kallis opening and McMillan coming in at No 3. They took the right decision. Although Adam Bacher was out for 22, he played very positively. I think he has the ability to come through as the regular opening partner for Gary Kirsten.

It is very difficult to fit McMillan into this team but the great thing is that a man of his ability and character is lurking on the sidelines, very keen to get back in.

He can be a bit of a problem but being left out makes him want to get back and he is putting in that extra effort.

In the first Test, we had the unusual experience of seeing Allan Donald and Shaun Pollock extravagant in their line. The Lord's wicket is quicker and was absolutely ideal for a fielding side coming in on the second evening, fresh and with 14 overs left.

Yesterday morning conditions were ideal for both Donald and Pollock. The cloud cover gave them noticeable swing, which was lacking earlier in the match - apart from Dominic Cork, who is naturally suited to such conditions.

I don't think I have seen Donald bowl quicker. He sometimes needs to get motivated and it wasn't all that clever of Dean Headley deciding to take him on when Donald came to the crease.

We learned that lesson on our previous tour in 1994 when Devon Malcolm got hit on the head and then bowled us out at the Oval. He came out firing and Donald's reaction was very similar. As a South African seeing Headley bounce Donald, I thought at the time that may be it was the best thing that could happen.

I played against Donald when he had just started with Free State and I was with Transvaal in 1987. It was obvious then he had incredible talent and pace: his need was to direct it.

He was quick then but you weren't having to play too many deliveries. At that stage, he wasn't a key bowler and didn't send down all that many overs.

For a big man, it is incredible that he is so athletic. Once he gets the rhythm going he is surely the best quick bowler in the world because of his pace and the fact that he makes the batsman play all the time.

He has lasted 11 years at the top and I wonder how we will fill the gap when he goes. There is no one that stands out. We have a lot of promising youngsters coming through but you won't get another Allan Donald for a long time.

Donald and Pollock showed here that they are going to win many Tests for their country. Shaun is my nephew and I know most talk is about when he is going to show as much worth with the bat as with the ball because he has all the potential to be a great all-rounder - and we must thank England for that because he learnt a lot about batting in his year with Warwickshire.

For a youngster, Shaun has the rare quality of being very relaxed and philosophical. I don't know whether it runs in the family but he doesn't get overheated if things are not going his way. He is sufficiently mature to know that this is a game of swings and roundabouts. There's always a tomorrow.

I think it is very beneficial for South African players to spend a summer playing on the English county scene. Six months in your conditions is an incredibly valuable learning academy. Lance Klusener, a true competitor, apparently turned down offers with some of your counties last year. But in his case, I think he is already playing enough cricket at the top level.

Having watched England's middle order in this game, I must again question why Graeme Hick isn't playing. Everyone questions his ability to deal with the short ball but I believe he has gone a long way to ironing out that problem.

He made a bad start to his Test career but now he is averaging 36. Batting is about more than staying at the wicket. You have to be scoring and taking it to the bowlers, which is in his favour. The longer he spends in the middle, the more dominating he is going to be.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
Editorial comments can be sent to The Electronic Telegraph at
Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 21 Jun1998 - 07:11