Graeme Pollock pads up for a nets session
© PA Photos

Match That Changed My Life

Massive in Adelaide

Graeme Pollock took part in one of the great partnerships in 1964. Then, he went on to become one of the game's greats

Nagraj Gollapudi  |  

1964: Australia v South Africa
January, 1964: Neil Adcock and Jackie McGlew had retired. It was the first tour of Australia for most of the South African players, and my debut series. By the time we arrived in Adelaide for the fourth Test, we were one down in the series, having lost the second match in Melbourne.

We won the Adelaide Test by ten wickets mainly because of the 341-run partnership between Eddie Barlow and myself for the third wicket. The amazing thing about that partnership was the time it took. We went at easily over a run per minute and took just 270 minutes for it. We made 180 runs in the last session on Saturday, the second day of the Test, and it just turned things around not only for South Africa but for my career. Barlow made 201 and I scored 175.

I was only 19 at the time. I had not started all that well in Brisbane and Melbourne. I got my maiden Test century in Sydney, but the Adelaide hundred was special because we won the match.

Adelaide was a good batting pitch where the square boundaries were pretty short. The Australian bowling attack was a pretty formidable one, with Graham McKenzie, who dismissed me a few times on the tour, Neil Hawke and Richie Benaud. The main reason I pick Adelaide over the 122 in Sydney is simply because I think I played better. We were totally in control and the game just transformed so unbelievably in our favour.

Even today, to get a hundred against Australia is every batsman's dream, and I believe if a batsman can get two hundreds against them then he can play

Australia were back then, and still are, a great cricketing nation, and as a youngster I looked up to Australian cricket. Neil Harvey, a left-hander like me, was my hero. Everything about Australia stood out, so to have that sort of success and win by such a big margin told a story and gave young guys like me, who were just starting their careers, greater belief in themselves.

Even today, to get a hundred against Australia is every batsman's dream, and I believe if a batsman can get two hundreds against them then he can play.

A year and a half later, I made 125 in the first innings at Trent Bridge, on a pitch that was giving the bowlers a lot of assistance (nobody else passed 38 in the innings). There were low scores but we won that Test against England and it was probably a better achievement overall. But 1964 in Adelaide just seemed to stand out as the one that transformed South African cricket. There were a lot of young guys and to play Australia in Australia was not easy. And to then come out with a drawn series was fantastic. It was the start of a really good period for us, a period where we played with a positive and attacking attitude and which carried on till our isolation began seven years later.

Graeme Pollock played 23 Tests for South African between 1963 and 1970. He was speaking to Nagraj Gollapudi