I remember when I first learned about my induction into the ICC Hall of Fame. I was in Canterbury, and I remember opening it, slowly reading through and getting that unbelievable sensation of what a privilege it was. It is not something we dream of when we start our careers but for me, it comes from a deep desire to be the best you can every single day.
The fact that you, Shaun, will join myself, Barry Richards, Jacques Kallis, Aubrey Faulkner and of course your uncle Graeme, in being inducted is an enormously proud moment for all of us in South African cricket. Having you there, and deservedly so, makes all those sacrifices and operations, the sore feet and sore body worth it.
I still remember the first time I came across you. Malcolm Marshall was playing for Natal and in 1994 and we played against them in a day-night final. I remember Malcolm was bowling from one end and this young tearaway with red hair was bowling from the other. From then your position in Proteas cricket would ignite.
Of course, the Pollock name is huge in South Africa. It meant that even as a young man, you had so much pressure on your shoulders to succeed. You had to finish the mission and follow in the footsteps of Graeme and your father Peter with the whole country watching intently. You did that and more and I know that they and the rest of your family will be so stoked that you are being added to this list of cricket’s greats.
You’ll forgive me for saying that you were quiet when you first came into the South African team in 1995, but that did not last long. We soon got to see the real Shaun Pollock, a great leader but also a prankster. I haven’t forgotten the time you and a certain Lance Klusener left a dead fish in the aircon vent of our hotel room in Sri Lanka that went undiscovered, but certainly not unremarked upon, for three days. We got our own back on you, thankfully, but needless to say those tours with you were never boring.
What I admire a lot about you is the way you were able to adapt your game. When you first came into the Proteas side, you were this fast bowler who could terrorise batters, but despite injuries later in your career, you always managed to be effective, even if you didn’t quite have the pace you once had, and that’s a remarkable quality. You were our Glenn McGrath, the sort of bowler who could lock down an end and let the rest of us run free at the other. I think that is why we complemented each other so well as an opening bowling partnership. We could throw you the ball and say ‘See you tonight’. You would pile up the dots at one end and then I would have licence to express myself. Where my style was to combine control with pace, you did so with swing, getting so close to the stumps that batters would have to play almost every ball. It took incredible stamina and concentration because you gave them nowhere to hide.
I think we were never better than when the West Indies came to South Africa in 1998/9. Between us we took 52 wickets in a 5-0 series victory. There was also the tour to India in 2000 when we won 2-0 and the two of us, along with the rest of the pace attack and Nicky Boje just seemed to click.
You took over the captaincy soon after. After the Hansie Cronje affair, there was no question that you were going to be the man to step into the breach. I think we knew from the start that you would end up being the captain one day. You got on with everyone and were just one of the nice guys. Of course, you could get a little hairy when things did not go your way, but that is the same for all of us.
It truly was a privilege to be able to share the new ball with you Test cricket. To take 421 Test wickets is incredible, and who could forget the magic with the bat as well. We were spoilt having you, Jacques Kallis and Lance Klusener in the same team as our revered all-rounders.
I want to thank you as a bowling partner, a friend and a Protea cricketer. Thank you for all the memories I got to share with you, the great times we had, and the battles. I think you brought the best out of me, and I hope I brought the best out of you.
We don’t see each other often enough but I just want to wish you well. You have been a wonderful servant to South African cricket which was lucky to have another Pollock. You have done your family proud.
Welcome to the ICC Hall of Fame, Polly.