South Africa face their busiest, hardest season ever beginning with the tour to Zimbabwe in September. It must be the fifth time, at least, that they have broken their record for ‘most busy season’.
The freshness present in all the national squad players after two or three months off always gets the cricketing juices flowing – just a matter of weeks now before we begin smelling the season’s first buckets of freshly mown grass and the first pitches start being marked out. (This process has already started on the Highveld, I know, but winter grass just doesn’t smell the same!)
So with 11 definite Tests to play and possibly 13 if the season-ending pair against Bangladesh are confirmed, plus as many as 40 one-day internationals, many players could be forgiven for wondering when their next break might come. I know several wives and girlfriends of the national squad have been insisting on taking their men away for long weekend breaks and even substantial holidays in the knowledge that such luxuries will rare for the next eight months or so.
But national captain Shaun Pollock remains a law unto himself. Despite the near-certainty of playing in every one of those matches, fitness-permitting, Pollock knows himself well enough to concede that the five month break that follows the explosion of international cricket will simply be too long for his patience threshold to endure!
As the only man to be able to match the energy levels of Jonty Rhodes, Pollock has given a very cautious “yes” to the offer by Bob Woolmer’s English county, Warwickshire, to take up the place as the overseas professional in place of Vasbert Drakes for the 2002 season.
“There is a lot of cricket to be played between now and then,” Pollock said recently, “and I still have to discuss the matter with Gerald Majola.
But in principle, if I’m fit and all the details can be worked out, I’d love to go back to Warwickshire for another season. I had a lot of fun there when I filled in for Allan in 1998 and it would be great to go back. So I’ve told them I’m very interested,” Pollock said.
Most cricketers, and most sportsmen of any description, rely heavily on rest to rejuvenate their bodies and performances. Some, however, but very few, get better the more they stay active. It may just be a coincidence, as well, that Shaun has never smoked, drunk alcohol or eaten junk food – well, maybe a few burgers here and there!
And you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more reasons to admire the man…
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