The Merely Very Good
Shaun Pollock has always been termed an all-rounder but like his profile says, any team would have him in the side for his bowling alone. I don't think that can be said anymore. His 395 test wickets at an average of just 23.42 are undeniably brilliant but a once great bowler is now merely very good. And let me tell you there is a big difference between being great and being merely very good. The best example I can give is Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.
Back to Pollock, its a well known fact that his bowling record over the past 2 or 3 years has been ordinary and comparisons to McGrath should no longer be made. Yes, McGrath has been out of action and it will be almost a year when he bowls again in the Champions Trophy but I can bet on my non-existant cat that he will never be reduced to such an ineffective and harmless bowler that Pollock has become.
To read that Polly resorted to bowling off-spinners against SL in that fantastic Colombo test came as a disappointment to me. Bowling after a nice break of 3-4 months one would expected him to come back fresher and faster. He was never express but he could move the ball both ways at a decent clip. Age and injury do take its toll but at 33 he's not too old and hasn't suffered the long list of injuries that Jason Gillespie has endured.
It's interesting to note however that Pollock is the #1 ranked ODI bowler (LG ICC Cricket Rankings) and his lack of pace and bite hasn't dimished his effectiveness. The same goes for Irfan Pathan who has lost considerable pace in recent times but has developed into a thinking ODI bowler. It will interesting to see how these 2 perform in the forth-coming India-SL-SA tri-series. Pathan will be looking to regain some confidence after his dismal performance in WI and Pollock reclaim some of that old magic.
Update : The Numbers Game chronicles Pollock's recent decline and Sanjay Manjrekar shares my disappointment of watching Polly bowl off-spinners.