Many Test matches fall comfortably inside the boundaries of the game’s list of world records. There will almost certainly be a few personal bests, maybe a couple of ground records, but far more Tests do not threaten the ‘big’ records than do.
The first Test against Zimbabwe was one of the exciting exceptions to the rule with Andy Flower’s heroics and the possibility on the second day of Gary Kirsten going mad and blazing a triple century.
It might have been even more spectacular had Shaun Pollock prolonged the South African innings by another hour or two. 700 would have been comfortably passed and, had he batted to within a few minutes of the close of play, possibly 800. Lance Klusener was at the crease, after all, and there was plenty of batting to come.
“Not interested in those records,” Pollock said after an exhausting victory had been completed. Even South Africa’s record total of 622-9 did not cross the captain’s mind.
If it had, surely another couple of overs wouldn’t have hurt and the XI of 2001-02 would have replaced the class of 69-70 when Graeme Pollock led the way with 274 against Bill Lawrie’s Australians at Kingsmead.
“Nope, not really interested,” said a smiling Pollock. “The only record I’m interested in is the winning record. To reach 600 means the opposition have to score 400 to avoid the follow-on and that’s tough. There’s not often much point in going on beyond that.”
“Besides, the wicket was flat and I thought we’d need the time to bowl them out. Maybe I didn’t think it would take us quite that long to do it, but now I’m glad we did stop when we did!”
When Daryll Cullinan and Gary Kirsten scored 275 they both claimed that records were ‘nice’ but they were not why you played the game.
“If they come along then you’re grateful to go into the book,” they both said afterwards.
Andy Flower, too, said his records were a “very nice bonus”.
History does not record everything that goes into the creation of a record, like the fact that Javagal Srinath bowled a yard outside off stump in order not to claim the final wicket when Anil Kumble had taken all nine wickets to fall. Kumble got his ten – thanks to Srinath.
Some players, like Geoff Boycott, for example, are not just ‘aware’ of records but become obsessed by them. Some, it seems, like Shaun Pollock, don’t give a second thought to the record books.
Something tells me that may change in the years to come. He’s far too smart not to have a sense of history, though in this case, he got it absolutely right
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