Over-50s World Cup Ambassador - Graeme Pollock

The Over-50s World Cup in South Africa announced six former greats of the game who will serve as the tournament’s ambassadors.

Mike Proctor, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Omar Henry, Peter Kirsten and Dave Richardson will not be playing, but will be in attendance at the various functions, watching games and following the progress of all the teams closely.

Among the pantheon of cricket’s greatest left-handed batsmen, which includes names such as Lara, Sobers, Border and Sangakkara, sits Pollock.

Don Bradman said that Pollock and Sobers were the best left-handed batsmen he had ever seen, while Wisden Cricket wrote: “If it is permissible to attach the word genius to the artistry of a batsman, then Graeme Pollock is such among cricketers.”

Pollock came from a strong cricketing family and was something of a child prodigy, taking all 10 wickets and scoring 117* in his first game for the Grey College Under-11s (as a 9-year-old), and making his first-class debut at age 16 (scoring 54, run out).

In a seven-year Test career that saw him play just 23 Tests prior to the start of South Africa’s isolation, he scored 2 256 runs at an average of 60.97 (seven centuries), topped by a famous 274 in his final series, against Australia.

Pollock, along with Richards and Procter, protested against the South African government’s Apartheid policy, arguing in a public statement that merit should be “the only criterion on the cricket field”. While the boycott of South Africa curtailed his career severely, he felt it was a necessary measure: “It was difficult for 22 years, but in hindsight it was needed and I’m delighted it did achieve change in South Africa.”

Apart from a few unofficial Test matches against rebel sides, Pollock never again played international cricket. He did play a lot of First-Class cricket, however, scoring over 20 000 runs at 54.67 before his retirement at the age of 43.

At List-A level he was phenomenal, averaging over 50 at a time when such an average was unheard of. In 1974/75 he scored the first ever List-A double-hundred (222* for Eastern Province Cricket against Border) and this remained the highest List-A score anywhere until 2002.

He was voted South Africa’s Cricketer of the 20th Century in 1999, and was South Africa’s Cricketer of the Year in 1961 and 1984 ... 23 years apart!

Pollock is enthusiastic about his role as an Ambassador for the Over-50s World Cup: “Once a cricketer, always a cricketer. The tournament is a fantastic initiative with which I’m delighted to be associated. Unfortunately we can’t all keep playing into our 50s, but we can certainly be on hand to offer our support and encouragement and I’m looking forward to doing exactly that."

Given that he is an Ambassador for the Over-50s World Cup, it seems appropriate to add a video of the man himself batting at age 50. Here he is playing for a World XI vs a Bradman XI in 1994/95. He scored 89 off 71 balls, playing some beautiful trademark drives.

By Jim Morrison