Ever thought sporting families where a father and a son go on to represent their country are much akin to the erstwhile royal dynasties, where the King serves his people and then his heir, the Prince takes over with the same dedication and zest.
Cricket has been blessed with such royalty, the likes of Lance Cairns and his son the great all-rounder Chris Cairns for New Zealand, Ken Rutherford and his son, the southpaw Hamish Rutherford again for the Kiwis and Kevin Curran for Zimbabwe and his sons, bowlers Sam and Tom Curran for England.
Well, one cricketing family or should I say a cricketing dynasty worthy of a mention are the Pollocks from South Africa.
The great Graeme Pollock who was arguably the finest batter for the Proteas in the pre-isolation era and his nephew Shaun Pollock, who in time would become one of the best bowlers and an equally good all-rounder for the team in green and gold.
Born in Port Elizabeth, cricket was naturally in Shaun’s blood with his uncle Graeme and father Peter already making a mark in the beautiful game.
With a heap of domestic wickets for his province KwaZulu-Natal, it was no surprise an international call up was around the corner for Pollock, when he made his test debut against England in an inbound series in 1995.
Such was his zeal to perform, that in only his 5th Test match in the same series, this redhead took his first 5 wicket halt getting the likes of Alec Stewart and Graeme Hick en route to achieving the milestone.
In 1998, in only his 14th test, the Durban man achieved his career-best bowling figures in an innings with his 7-wicket halt against the mighty Australians at Adelaide. The scalps included the Waugh twins, Greg Blewett and Ian Healy to name a few.
Consistency matched with line and length was Pollock’s forte and his nagging accuracy along with his ability to get zip off the pitch from any surface added to his charm.
What’s more, his open bowling partnership with Allan Donald had become one of the most feared in world cricket.
Captaincy also wasn’t far for the South African with being thrust in the role post the exit of ex-captain Hansie Cronje when his match-fixing bubble burst in 2000.
Pollock started his captaincy stint in a solid fashion and brought some credibility back into the South African set-up with convincing performances.
His bowling prospered with the additional load of captaincy.
Pollock completed his first and what turned out to be his only 10-wicket haul in a match when he claimed 10/147 against India at Bloemfontein in 2001-02. The Proteas went on to win that test match and the series 1 nil.
Every captain has his share of lows and Pollock was not different when he suffered the ignominy of leading South Africa to a 3-0 whitewash down under, the first such occurrence post-apartheid.
Things went from bad to worse as South Africa failed to reach the Super 6 stage in the 2003 WC held at home.
An apparent D/L miscalculation led to the hosts being knocked out at the group stages itself and Pollock was sacked as the captain with a young Graeme Smith taking over the mantle.
Pollock though was still retained in the team and continued to soar with being the experienced bowler in the side along with Makhaya Ntini and later would pass on his expertise to the new stars Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.
His batting though under-rated was also crucial to give the Proteas the back-end lift in ODIs and the much-needed boost in Tests to mount considerable runs.
In 2008, Pollock finally hung up his boots after a 2-1 Test and 5 nil ODI series win over the West Indies.
With 421 Test wickets, the 2nd highest by a South African after Dale Steyn and 393 ODI wickets matched with 3781 Test runs and 3519 ODI runs, Pollock is truly one of the most outstanding and remarkable players to play for the team in green and gold.
Truth be told his feats are not only a blessing for South Africa but a blessing for cricket overall.
Moreover, his off-field exploits as a commentator for SuperSport are a testament to his knowledge and understanding of this beautiful game.
In the end, it suffices to say that talents there are many but only a few names manage to command as much respect as admiration, for having played the game with much passion and malice toward none. For that and more, we must salute Shaun Pollock.