Proteas: Polly tips some bowling toil

2016-08-16 20:10
Shaun Pollock (Gallo Images)

Cape Town – There must be few better “old Kingsmead hands” than Shaun Pollock.

Now 43 and comfortably rehoused in his role as a television commentator, the former Proteas captain and luminary all-rounder spent his entire domestic first-class career – from 1991/92 to 2007/08 -- with the venue as his home franchise/provincial ground.

He also played 12 of his 108 Test matches there and, almost needless to say, the firm Durban local will be keenly at his SuperSport post for the first of South Africa’s two clashes with New Zealand from Friday.

Naturally revelling at times in Kingsmead’s (now fading) reputation for boasting a “green mamba” of a pitch when conditions were favourable, the canny, probing, disciplined and initially pretty hostile seamer sported 44 scalps from those dozen Tests at his home base – at an average of 21.79, even eclipsing his stellar overall average in the format of 23.11.

But the popular “Polly” expects relatively few ready-made favours for quicker men over the course of the first Test, an historic one as it will be the earliest-staged clash of a home season in the pedigreed format.

“I suppose you can’t be certain about too much for an August game at Kingsmead,” Pollock told Sport24 this week.

“I can’t remember ever playing a proper match on the ground before September, and even then our warm-up games for the season ahead were played on side strips which have different grass – we didn’t get onto the main part of the square.

“My expectation would be that the Test strip is pretty devoid of moisture, even if they have perhaps flooded it a bit in the lead-up.

“If that is the case, there shouldn’t be a huge amount of assistance; you could have to graft quite patiently for wickets.

“But what you do tend to find at Kingsmead is that at the start and then the end of seasons there is some help for spinners, when there is not too much live grass.

“If it is a little cold in the morning sessions there could be something (for the seamers), although that said, for a few days recently we had quite a lot of slap-on-the-sunscreen weather.”

August is hardly peak-humidity time on the KwaZulu-Natal coast, although long-range forecasts suggest that Saturday (86 percent) and Sunday (almost 70 percent) may present the sort of mugginess that traditionally gives swing bowlers hope.

If the surface is reasonably tricky to read in advance of the Test, Pollock expects fewer surprises in the Proteas line-up: “I think they’ll go six batsmen, plus (wicketkeeper Quinton) de Kock at seven, and then three seamers and (off-spinner) Dane Piedt.

“I doubt they will go all-seam with four … maybe if JP (Duminy) was feeling good about his own ‘offies’ supplementing his batting it’s something they might have considered, but that is not really the case with him at the moment.”

*Perhaps a bigger concern than the strip will be the Kingsmead outfield. Special new grass was laid there a couple of months ago to cater for the unusual, late-winter conditions, although flooding in the region late last month reportedly washed away some of it, leaving sections of the outfield bare and potentially even muddy if there is further rain.

Some weather websites predict risks of occasional rain on a couple of days of the Test, though not in especially significant amounts.

Read more on:    proteas  |  shaun pollock  |  cricket


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