St George's Park History
Port Elizabeth, South Africa

The Matches St George's Park - Pollock thrashes Aussie bowling - EP vs Australia
Pollock thrashes Aussie bowling - EP vs Australia
Neil Cameron

Lesson number one in cricket is: You do not give Graeme Pollock a second chance. The visiting Australians learnt this the hard way at St George's Park on Monday, January 19, 1970, when, after Graham McKenzie let him off the hook at backward short-leg at one, the brilliant Springbok left-hander went on to score one of the most devastating run-a-minute centuries against an international attack.

Everything else in this match paled by comparison to Pollock's 105. The excellent centuries of Keith Stackpole and Dassie Biggs and the attractive knocks of Paul Sheahan and Colin Bland were merely academic contributions to the score. It was Pollock who dazzled, thrilled and held the crowd spell-bound with his batting brilliance.

Lucky? Perhaps he was, but the chance he gave to McKenzie came hard and fast to his left hand. He could not hold it, but he probably did thousands of people a favour for what followed in the next hour and a half can only boost the game further and pack the grounds wherever Pollock is playing.

Any player attacking the bowling the way Pollock was doing must take a few risks and even if some of his shots did not get exactly where intended, his flashing bat humbled the Australian bowling.

One player in particular will long remember his first encounter with Pollock. He is the tall offspinner, Ashley Mallett. In the first innings, Lawry, the visiting captain, hid his star spinner from the Springbok, but with his attack reduced by the elbow injury to Mayne, he had little option but to keep Mallett in his bowling line-up.

Although Pollock kept up a steady rate of scoring, the South Australian bowled fairly tightly.

Without any prior warning, Pollock suddenly cut loose. He drove Mallett hard past the stumps for four; the next ball he moved down the wicket and crashed through the covers; the next he drove a little uppishly through the cover field; the next he lifted Mallett over the long-off boundary and repeated the shot off the final ball.

Thus in five consecutive balls Pollock hit 4, 4, 4, 6, 6 (24 runs), racing from 78 to his century - his 26th of his first-class career. Mallett eventually had the last word. Again Pollock moved down the "track," but this time he did not get the full weight of the blade behind the shot and Sheahan took an excellent running catch in the deep.

Pollock and the Australians now move down to Newlands to resume their battle in the first Test and Lawry must be wondering how he is going to contain the South African. There is obviously only one way - grab him early as they did in EP's first innings on Friday before he has settled in. If they don't, they already have a taste of the price they will have to pay.

The match yesterday ended tamely in a draw with the Australians, set to score 202 runs in 95 minutes, reaching a total of 75 for the loss of two wickets by the close.

There were some who thought that Graeme Pollock might declare at his tea-time score of 229 for four wickets and give the tourists a more reasonable task of scoring 186 in 120 minutes. But two factors probably decided him against this - firstly the back injury of Gordon Den which kept him out of the attack and the pre-arranged plan to use his brother, Peter, sparingly in this game in preparation for the Test.

He batted on for 15 minutes - just long enough for Dassie Biggs to complete his third first-class century. It was a painstaking but thoroughly deserved "ton", especially considering his most unfortunate run out at 19 in the first innings.

Biggs batted throughout the EP second innings of four and a half hours, hitting 11 fours and two sixes. The only chance he gave was when hitting out for his century at 86, but Connolly failed to hold a catch at long-on.

He never looked in any serious trouble either against the seam or spin attack and played many fine shots off the front foot which belied his slow rate of scoring. But without the Pollock genius of penetrating the field, Biggs hit many of his best shots directly at fieldsmen.

The remainder of the EP innings does not make particularly exciting reading.

Bezuidenhout, exactly as in the first innings, was bowled by Mallett for 15, although in staying for an hour and putting on 49 runs for the second wicket, he did not help lay the foundation for Pollock's entrance.

Bland, who batted so attractively in the first innings, scored only one the second time before getting an inside edge to an attempted on-drive and was caught in the covers.

Wilmot, too, never got going before he was leg-before to Walters and Bond was caught on the square leg boundary without scoring.

The innings, therefore, was a two-man affair - Graeme Pollock 105 and Dassie Biggs 100 not out.

Although the game was literally "dead", the last hour-and-a-half's play was not without some interest. Ian Redpath and Doug Walters failed for the second time in the match and on the eve of the first Test this must be worrying to the Australian camp.

As it is, their batting line-up looked just a little thin and with two of their top batsmen looking vulnerable to the pacemen, a heavy responsibility rested on men like Lawry.

But the imperturbable Aussie skipper was still there. He had an aggregate of 296 runs in four innings and he had STILL to be dismissed on this tour.

At the close of play on Monday, he was undefeated with 43 in an innings of tempered aggression against anything loose, and dour in defence when his stumps were attacked.

Eastern Province Herald.
January 20, 1970.

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