Sell-out crowd for Pollock farewell

The Polly Parade reaches its climax this weekend when veteran all-rounder Shaun Pollock plays his last matches for South Africa at Kingsmead on Friday and at the Wanderers on Sunday.

With an unassailable three-nil lead over the West Indies in the five-match one-day international series, the Proteas will be looking for a series whitewash, but they will also be hoping to give Pollock the send-off he deserves.

Friday’s match is a sell-out, and KwaZulu-Natal cricket union chief Cassim Docrat said on Thursday that there were various plans to celebrate the union’s favourite son.

”We thought of flying him in by helicopter, but that plan was scrapped,” said Docrat. ”But his old school, Northlands, will be providing him with a guard of honour and his older daughter, Jemma, will come out on to the field with him.

”His whole family, including his father, Peter, and all his brothers and sisters and all the children will be in the president’s suite to watch Shaun play his last match at Kingsmead,” said Docrat. ”There will be a couple of presentations to him during the dinner break, and we have also had a Polly Parade banner competition.”

With all the attention on Pollock, who has represented South Africa in 108 Tests and 301 ODIs so far, it would be easy for the Proteas to be distracted, but captain Graeme Smith said on Thursday that this would not happen.

”We want to give Polly a really good send-off — the send-off he deserves,” he said. ”There have been times during this series that we’ve all had lumps in our throats, but we also want to be clinical and ruthless in winning the match. It has been fantastic to see the kind of reception Polly has had from great crowds, and at times we have had to protect him a bit.

”The guys are very happy to have been part of Polly’s farewell and they’re very grateful that they’ve been able to perform well. That was the nerve-racking aspect going into the series — that we wouldn’t perform well, and that Shaun would leave on a lesser note.”

Smith said Justin Ontong would not play on Friday, as he’s still recovering from a knee injury, but Makhaya Ntini, who has not played in the series so far, would probably play, and spin bowler Johan Botha would almost definitely play.

”It looks like a very good batting wicket, and I think we’ll need the option of a change of pace,” said Smith.

”There will probably be one or two changes in the team. There are several guys pushing for places, and there are some who have to prove themselves, and the competition within the team is very good for us.”

Smith said there was no need for extra motivation for the last two matches.

”That’s a given,” he said. ”We have pride in our performance. We’ve worked to reach a level in our cricket where we can be up with the best in the world consistently. It’s a given for me that the guys know what’s required of them — we’re professionals, and that’s what we do. We’re talking about extra stuff now, like Polly, as motivation, but that’s what’s required of them day to day as a team.” — Sapa

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