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Is Pollock such a bad captain, after all?
Sunil Narula, PTI
New Delhi, February 22, 2003
First Published: 01:32 IST(22/2/2003)
Last Updated: 01:32 IST(22/2/2003)

Ok, let's say, Shaun Pollock has that philosophical air about him after every defeat and it makes him sound as if does not need to win that badly. But just because he's laid-back after a loss does not make him such a bad captain.

Such a bad captain that Ricky Ponting should make fun of him. And such a bad captain that teammates - Jonty Rhodes, Allan Donald and Herschelle Gibbs - keep wishing Hansie Cronje were alive and leading South Africa in this World Cup.

Ponting says Pollock is too predictable in that he almost always bowls six overs in his first spell and then returns for his last four when the slog is on. But Allan Donald has lost his erstwhile fire and cannot bowl at the death. So Pollock has to do it, alongwith Makhaya Ntini. That does make him a bad skipper.

Good fast bowlers like Nantie Hayward, Steve Elworthy, Andre Nel and David Terbrugge are unavailable to Pollock because of his country's quota system, where the team must have five coloured players in the squad.

Charl Langeveldt, Robin Peterson and Monde Zondeki will have almost no role to play in this World Cup, but -- according to that quota rule -- they have to be in the squad. So, bowlers like Hayward have to be kept out of the squad.

Pollock respects that policy and has not uttered any form of protest against it. That does not make him such a bad captain.

When Graeme Smith replaced the injured Jonty Rhodes in the SA squad for the game against New Zealand, experienced opener Gary Kirsten had to be pushed so much down the order that he almost had no role to play in that crucial match. Pollock would have loved to have Neil McKenzie in the squad and could have used him in the middle-order. But the quota rule also means that McKenzie is not in the squad. That does not make Pollock a bad captain.

Rhodes fractured his hand in SA's second match against Kenya and his absence left a gaping hole in the backward point region on the field. How does that make Pollock a poor leader?

Pollock's deputy Mark Boucher dropped a sitter from New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming when he was on 53, and that simple error probably cost South Africa the match. So why should Pollock get all the flak?

Now that South Africa have lost two very important matches -- against New Zealand and the West Indies - chances are that they will struggle to duplicate the efforts of their rugby team that won the World Cup as hosts in 1995.

Also, it can be stated that for his teammates, Shaun Pollock lacks Hansie Cronje's cricketing shrewdness, his larger-than-life image and his overall charisma. But, at least, Pollock tries extremely hard and is not a fixer.

Sometimes, that can be more important than winning the World Cup.


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