Shaun Pollock was a mean bowler and, in his prime, forged a terrifying alliance with Allan Donald that made batsmen break into a sweat. He could bat, too, and the numbers — 421 wickets and 3,781 runs in Tests and 393 and 3,519 respectively in ODIs — showcase an all-rounder who could walk into any all-time South African XI.

Now busy with commentary and the odd coaching assignment like the one he did with Mumbai Indians, Pollock’s heart, though, beats more for fast bowling.

It comes with his territory and in a free-wheeling chat, he spoke about Mitchell Johnson, Dale Steyn, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli and all that impacts international cricket.

Excerpts:

Johnson, Steyn and the X-factor

It is always a good time to be a fast bowler. Genuine pace can be effective in all games and you can see that in the history of the sport. They (Mitchell Johnson and Dale Steyn) are match-winners and you can feel the atmosphere when they run in to bowl; they have genuine pace.

The crowd gets really excited. Yeah, you have the 140 (kmph) guys, but when the 150 (kmph) guys come, it is special.

Snarling Johnson, Smiling Steyn

Every individual goes about his business differently, but Dale (Steyn) did have a few words for (Virat) Kohli. The make-up of a fast bowler is to be aggressive and to have a presence, but some people do it differently.

The Zaheer factor

The Indians have an opportunity to watch how the South Africans bowl, see where they went right and went wrong. It is good to see Zak (Zaheer) back; I have worked with him at Mumbai Indians and he is a lovely chap.

Kohli and Tendulkar

You cannot compare them. They are from different eras. Virat Kohli has come in when T20 cricket has become prominent and one-day cricket has changed. Sachin has had a wonderful career and let Kohli develop at his own pace and later create a legacy for himself.

Spin on the wane?

The (Shane) Warnes and the (Muttiah) Muralitharans are rare and they don’t come around that often. In the one-dayers and T20s, if you look at the rankings, the spinners are definitely playing their part, but yes, leg-spinners are rare.

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