Graeme Pollock to be granted top honour

South Africa batting legend Graeme Pollock will be recognised as arguably the finest left-handed batsman to have played the game when he is inducted into the International Cricket Council (ICC) Hall of Fame at tea on day one of the first Test against Australia in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The ICC has announced that the 65-year-old left-hander is to be formally honoured when he receives a commemorative cap to mark the occasion. “The ceremony is the highlight of the ICC’s Catch the Spirit Week in the country, aimed at promoting the organisation’s centenary celebrations,” the ICC said.

Pollock, the brother of former South African pace bowler Peter and uncle to ex-Proteas captain Shaun, is one of only two South Africans in the initial intake of 55 players in the Hall of Fame, a joint venture between the ICC and the Federation of International Cricketers Associations.

The other, Pollock’s teammate Barry Richards, received his commemorative cap ahead of the ODI between Australia and South Africa at the Waca Ground in Perth last month.

Graeme Pollock’s international exposure was brought to an immature end owing to South Africa’s sporting isolation that began in 1970, but even in a truncated career he stamped an indelible mark on the game.

In 23 Tests, he made seven hundreds and 11 fifties from only 41 trips to the crease and of players to have played 20 innings or more in the longest form of the game, only the great Donald Bradman (99.94) averaged more than his 60.97.

He was equally devastating in first-class cricket, turning out for Eastern Province and Transvaal as he amassed 29 040 runs at an average of 54.67, including 64 hundreds and 99 fifties. It is against this illustrious background that Graeme Pollock was voted South Africa’s Cricketer of the Century in 1999.

“The cap presentation ceremony is a key part of the celebrations to mark the ICC’s centenary year as it acknowledges the greats of the game and the contributions they have made to ensure cricket is a great sport with a great spirit,” the ICC added.

More cap presentations
Other ICC Cricket Hall of Famers to have received their caps so far in 2009 are ex-Australia wicketkeeper Rodney Marsh and the West Indies trio of former captain Sir Vivian Richards and fast bowlers Michael Holding and Andy Roberts.

According to the ICC, more cap presentations will be made during the course of the year and a limited number of inductees, in addition to the 55 already chosen, will be named during 2009.

The Catch the Spirit week in Johannesburg is part of a range of activities across the continent of Africa to celebrate the spirit of cricket.

It is also fitting that Graeme Pollock will get his recognition at such a momentous time—the first match of a series that will decide which of the two teams, South Africa or Australia, can call itself the number-one Test team.

Australia holds that title at the moment and will retain it, together with the Reliance Mobile ICC Test Championship mace, if it draws or wins the series. However, success for South Africa will see them topple the Aussies off the top for the first time in almost six years.

ICC Cricket Hall of Fame—initial inductees (55):

Sydney Barnes, Bishan Bedi, Alec Bedser, Richie Benaud, Allan Border, Ian Botham, Geoffrey Boycott, Donald Bradman, Greg Chappell, Ian Chappell, Denis Compton, Colin Cowdrey, Kapil Dev, Sunil Gavaskar, Lance Gibbs, Graham Gooch, David Gower, WG Grace, Tom Graveney, Gordon Greenidge, Richard Hadlee, Walter Hammond, Neil Harvey, George Headley, Jack Hobbs, Michael Holding, Leonard Hutton, Rohan Kanhai, Imran Khan, Alan Knott, Jim Laker, Harold Larwood, Dennis Lillee, Ray Lindwall, Clive Lloyd, Hanif Mohammad, Rodney Marsh, Malcolm Marshall, Peter May, Javed Miandad, Keith Miller, Bill O’Reilly, Graeme Pollock, Wilfred Rhodes, Barry Richards, Vivian Richards, Andy Roberts, Garfield Sobers, Brian Statham, Fred Trueman, Derek Underwood, Clyde Walcott, Everton Weekes, Frank Woolley, Frank Worrell

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