The sixth instalment in our new series where we compare two legendary cricketers from the same generation. Rather than necessarily settle the debate on who is ‘better’, this series attempts to illustrate who had a greater say in dictating his country’s cricketing fortunes. Along the way, you may also find a few facets of these players that are not necessarily discussed in conventional media.
Since readmission, South Africa have often left audiences in awe of their quicks. Today, we cast the spotlight on two of their legendary speed merchants.
Allan Donald vs Shaun Pollock
A comparison of pace bowlers in Test cricket
|Number of Tests||72||108||Courtney Walsh (132)|
|Wickets Taken||330||421||Glenn McGrath (563)|
|Bowling Average||22.25||23.11||Malcolm Marshall (20.94)|
|Percentage of team wickets taken||29%||24%||Richard Hadlee (38.25)|
|Impact at Home (min. 25 Tests)||93||75||Craig McDermott|
|Impact Away (min. 20 Tests)||54||46||Dennis Lillee|
|Impact in Subcontinent (min. 10 Tests)||76||73||Courtney Walsh|
|Impact in Aus/SA (min. 10 Tests)||65||53||Alan Davidson|
|Impact in Eng/NZ (min. 10 Tests)||61||40||Dennis Lillee|
|Failure Rate (min. 50 Tests)||20%||24%||Joel Garner (12%)|
||3 (once every 24 Tests)||5 (once every 22 Tests)||Richard Hadlee and Dale Steyn (7)|
|Number of high impact performances||17 (once every 4 Tests)||18 (once every 6 Tests)||Glenn McGrath (32)|
|Most dominant period in career||November 1995 – December 1998||November 2001 – January 2005||n/a|
|Number of years as highest impact bowler||0||0||Richard Hadlee – 4
(1980, 1984, 1985, 1987)
|Highest impact bowler in a match||17||16||Glenn McGrath
(31 in 124 Tests)
|Highest impact bowler in a series||8 (in 24 Test series)||3 (in 40 Test series)||Richard Hadlee
(10 in 33 Test series)
1) All parameters from ‘
Example: Glenn McGrath has the highest
2) From ‘Bowling Average’ till ‘
3) Only pace bowlers have been considered for this comparison.
Allan Donald played 36 Tests fewer than Shaun Pollock, who also went on to take 91 more wickets. Yet, Donald remains the higher impact bowler of the two.
Pollock was highly restrictive. As it so happens, he has the fourth-highest
Donald, however, was the strike bowler for South Africa. Their force majeure. He claimed a higher percentage of team wickets overall, and his ability to account for the top/middle-order was exemplary. In fact, only Muralitharan and Dennis Lillee have dismissed a higher proportion of top/middle-order batsmen than Donald in Test cricket history.
Donald was superior in most parameters. His impact was higher both at home, and away. That he could hit the deck and swing the ball at pace meant he performed better than Pollock in varying conditions across the world. Consequently, he was also more consistent (lower failure rate).
Over their respective careers, Pollock registered two more
Donald and Pollock were, respectively, the highest and second-highest impact bowlers in South Africa’s Test history (min. 50 Tests) until a certain Dale Steyn usurped them both.
Until the emergence of Shaun Pollock, whose debut was a good three-and-a-half years after his own, Allan Donald was the linchpin of the South African bowling attack and didn’t have to share his impact with others. His role was fundamental to his team’s fortunes following their readmission. Pollock, on the other hand, came into a South African team that had already made its mark and had to share impact throughout his career – first with Donald, then with the likes of Makhaya Ntini and later, to a small extent, Steyn.
Illustrations: Vasim Maner