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Radhakrishnan Sreenivasan
Monday , February 04, 2008 at 16 : 53

Pollock always had time for people


It's rather ironical that Shaun Pollock had to retire in Johannesburg - While he was promoted to hit the winning runs against the West Indies in the final one dayer, it's a place where he would have loved to lift the World Cup way back in 2003 when he was still the South African captain.

I still remember requesting South African Shaun Pollock for an interview after he was ousted as the captain of his side in 2003. I was stationed in Durban covering the ICC World Cup 2003 and I was ready to meet him anytime anywhere. "Shaun, this is RK here. Can I speak to you for ten minutes on you being asked to step down as the South African captain? You let me know where you are...I can be there in sometime". "Don't bother", said Shaun Pollock. "I should be passing through your hotel in half hour's time. I would not mind dropping by for ten minutes for an interview."

That was Shaun Pollock for me. A brilliant bowler but a greater human being. In the middle of everything that was happening in South African cricket in 2003, Polly, as he is known still had time for people. But I had to entertain one request of his. "RK, do not let people in your hotel know that I will be there for an interview in half hour's time. I don't want people recognizing me." Shaun turned up in about fifteen minutes. Quietly slipped in and slipped out talking his heart out on the matter. As he drove away, one of the ladies at the reception enquired. "Excuse me, was that Shaun Pollock?"... "Yes, it WAS your captain." I said. "Why did you not tell us? We could have at least got an autograph." "That's precisely why I did not. Shaun had instructed us not to let anyone know that he was coming here." I put an end to the conversation. It was the aftermath of a crisis, so to say in South African cricket. Polly was the villain in Durban after a misinterpretation of Duckworth Lewis method sent South Africa crashing out of the World Cup.

March 3rd 2003, South Africa, after an indifferent start to their World Cup campaign were playing at the Kingsmead in Durban against a Sri Lankan side that had lost a game against the surprise package of the world cup - Kenya. The hosts HAD to win the match to book a place in the super sixes stage and almost managed it... only to realise they had miscalculated the asking rate. Mark Boucher punched the air after hitting a six of the penultimate ball of the day to reach 229. The wickerkeeper-batsman thought he had done enough and blocked the final ball of the day. He had followed the instructions from his dressing room to the fullest. He indeed had, only to realise the dressing room was muddled in confusion. They still had one more run to get but that remained unknown to the men in the middle. The axe fell on the captain and off he went.

"That's cricket for you." said the former South African skipper. "It treats you well one day and the very next day you are brought back to earth." He was philosophical. A great bowler known for his discipline, Polly was a great ambassador for the game of cricket.


More about Radhakrishnan Sreenivasan

S Radhakrishnan, better known as RK, is a sports freak. After dabbling in the world of Physics at the Madras Christian College, he did his Masters in Business Administration from Mumbai. Working in a corporate world didn’t suit him and he decided to enter the world of journalism. During his stint with ESPN Star Sports, RK covered the ICC Cricket World Cup in 2003, before moving on to join NEO Sports as their prime anchor. He is now the face of NEO Prime and NEO Sports.