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Last Updated:  Saturday, 15 March, 2003, 19:51 GMT
Pollock leaves enviable legacy
By Pranav Soneji

In the space of just three months, Shaun Pollock has seen his career turn completely on its head.

Shaun Pollock's captaincy record
Tests: Played 26, won 14, drawn seven, lost five 53.85% success
One-day: Played 90, won 57, lost 29, 63.33% success

In January, he was acclaimed as the man who led South Africa to the summit of the ICC Test Championship - relegating the invincible Australians to second place, much to their chagrin.

That in itself was an achievement to rank him alongside the great captains of South African cricket.

But what comes up, must come down - and how hard Pollock has fallen.

His January success suddenly transformed into a full-blow crisis in March after South Africa's World Cup debacle.

Failure to qualify for the Super Sixes was never an option for the United Cricket Board of South Africa and the country's expectant 44 million population.

And Pollock inevitably had to accept ultimate responsibility - his tenure as captain.

Shaun Pollock is quite new and he's still got a lot to learn
Herschelle Gibbs

The all-rounder took up the reins in April 2000 after the disgraced Hansie Cronje had been banned for life for his involvement in match-fixing.

Pollock's talents have never been in question - but his abilities to motivate and inspire have, even by his own players, who had publicly pined for Cronje's guidance.

"Hansie's leadership skills made him an icon," said Herschelle Gibbs before the start of the World Cup.

"Shaun Pollock is quite new and he's still got a lot to learn but he was the first guy to put his hand up after the whole thing blew up."

Hardly words to inspire confidence from your leading batsman.

Hansie Cronje in action for Australia
Cronje's shadow has always loomed over Pollock

The Cronje shadow loomed uncomfortably, but yet Pollock managed to lead his team successive Test and one-day victories.

His reputation suffered when South Africa lost back-to-back Test series against Australia 3-0 and 2-1 in 2002.

But the selectors kept faith - and Pollock repaid them with the ICC Test Championship at the start of the year.

Momentum - as well as expectation - was gathering as the World Cup approached.

The success-hungry media and public were so confident of success on home soil, but were totally unprepared for what actually happened next.

Defeats to West Indies and New Zealand, as well as a moment of mathematical madness against Sri Lanka, were not part of the grand plan.

But despite the gloom surrounding his exit, Pollock can reflect proudly on a successful record as his nation's captain.

Whether his successor can emulate his success remains to be seen.

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