A recent Eastern Province Board of Directors decision will see the legendary South African Cricketer, Graeme Pollock, being honoured by having the Centenary Pavilion at Axxess St. George’s re-named the Graeme Pollock Pavilion.
Voted as South Africa’s Cricketer of the Century in 2000 Graeme Pollock is regarded as one of the finest batsmen to play Test Cricket. Born in Durban on 27 February 1944 Graeme was 19 when he made his Test Debut in Brisbane. A left handed batsman, Pollock has received many accolades around the world. In 2009 he was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame.
At the young age of 26 his international cricket career came to end when South Africa were banned from international cricket. He retired from 1st class cricket in 1986/87 at the age of 43.
Pollock played 23 Tests with an average of 60.97 scoring 2256 runs. This is second only to the legendary Sir Donald Bradman of Australia on the all-time list. His first class statistics of 262 games, 20940 runs at an average of 54.67 is still impressive in the modern cricketing world.
“We are delighted to be honouring one of the greatest cricketers of all time. He played a big part in the cricketing history of Eastern Province with a career spanning 18 years. Many fans will remember coming to St George’s to watch him in action. The Graeme Pollock Pavilion is a testament to a man who brought great pride to Eastern Province,” said EP Cricket President Dr Malcolm Figg.
A delighted Pollock said; “Thank you to the people of Port Elizabeth for 30 good years, your support and friendliness was much appreciated; to the Cricket Administration and Sporting Public, your support provided the inspiration for a successful cricketing career. Many thanks and God Bless.”
The official re-naming ceremony will take place at the Momentum One Day International Match between South Africa and Pakistan to be played at Axxess St George’s today.
Pollock attended the Grey Schools where he was coached by Sussex professional George Cox. In his first match for Grey Junior, aged 9, he took all ten wickets before scoring 117 not out for the U11 team that traveled to Graaff-Reinet to play Union High. Legend also has it that he once hefted a six over the school tower. At the age of 13, he was selected for his first match for the school First XI as a leg spinner, taking six wickets for five runs. At 15, Pollock was selected to represent the South African schoolboy team.
In 1960, aged 16 and still attending Grey High School, Pollock was chosen to appear for Eastern Province. His first-class cricket debut was against Border at the Jan Smuts Ground in East London, where he made 54 runs before being run out. He then went on to take two wickets in Border’s second innings. Later that season he scored his maiden first-class century, scoring 102 against Transvaal B, becoming the youngest South African to score a first-class century. Pollock played five matches for EP in his debut season, scoring 384 runs at an average of 48.00. In 1961, while visiting Britain with his parents, he played six matches with the Sussex Second XI.
In the 1962–63 South African season, Pollock finished second in the averages, scoring 839 runs including three centuries at an average of 69.66. The highlight of his season was scoring 209 not out for an Eastern Province Invitational XI against the International Cavaliers, which included bowlers such as Richie Benaud and Graham McKenzie. Benaud was to describe the innings as “magnificent”, later saying “I knew I was watching a champion.” Aged 19, Pollock was the youngest South African to score a double-century in first-class cricket.
Graeme was 19 years of age when he destroyed the Aussie attack during the 1963/64 tour in Adelaide scoring 175, when he and Eddie Barlow added 341 for the third wicket in 283 minutes – a record South African partnership. Charles Fortune, one of the world’s best known cricket commentators, was broadcasting the game.
- “Graeme has just torn the Australian spin attack of Simpson and Benaud to shreds and tatters.” ~ Charles Fortune
- “Former Australian captain, Victor Richardson, was in the commentary box. I looked towards him, cocked an eyebrow as my way of saying ‘Your turn’, and then came the great Australian’s words: ‘Charles you keep it. Let me just watch him. I’m too full of joy to talk.’” ~ Charles Fortune
- Denis Compton watching Graeme at Trent Bridge in 1965 said; “I’ve seen them all. Don Bradman, Walter Hammond, Stan McCabe, but I don’t believe I have seen a better innings.”
- Jackie McGlew ~ “Graeme Pollock is very simply one of the greatest cricketers ever. No batsman in South African history has ever dominated the scene for so long and so indisputably by sheer prowess and presence as Robert Graeme Pollock.”
- Dennis Compton ~ “His batting had a poetic quality mixed with the spirit of the eternal schoolboy”.
- “He was like the lucky guy you knew who never got the flu… somehow you always felt Pollock was over the ball; it never seemed to be over him” ~ Hylton Ackerman
Pollock moved from Eastern Province and Port Elizabeth to Transvaal in the 1978-79 cricket season. But, as a firm South African patriot, he never sought employment abroad at any stage of his career.
Graeme continued, in the time of isolation from 1983 to 1987, to play a further 17 unofficial tests against English, Sri Lankan, West Indian (2 series) and Australian (2 series) “rebel” teams. His final game for South Africa was at St George’s Park where he played so many of his memorable innings, and his final knock was no exception. The opponents on this final occasion was the Australian Rebel XI led by Kim Hughes with a bowling attack consisting of Hogg, Alderman, McCurdy and Hohns. Graeme said farewell to a capacity St George’s Park crowd with a brilliant 144.
Graeme Pollock videos:
Connect with Graeme on Twitter as he introduces another in the Pollock Dynasty:
A new generation of Pollock’s on the way pic.twitter.com/QLa08rlmjO
— Graeme Pollock (@Graeme_Pollock) February 27, 2013
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