Peter Pollock spent the first 55 years of his life involved in South African cricket, whose debt to him is threefold.
As the country's premier fast bowler during the 1960s, the last decade before South Africa's international isolation; and as convener of selectors during the 1990s, he gave an inexperienced team a vision and a pattern that has made the side one of the game's top two teams. He was named Cricketer of the Year in 1965, claiming 116 wickets in the 28 Tests he played, helping South Africa win a number of matches.
Then, perhaps most famously of all, he provided South African cricket with his son, Shaun Pollock, who played 108 Tests and over 300 ODIs for South Africa, captained the side for four years and is widely regarded as one of the finest all-rounders to ever play the game.
But in August 1981 Peter had a life-changing experience that gave him a greater purpose than playing cricket.
"What had started out to be an ordinary day became the greatest day of my life," he shares on www.changinglives.org.au. "Conversions do not come more suddenly than this and my life was never to be the same again. I was a growling lion who had been changed into a lamb."
It was the day he met Jesus, personally, for the first time, although Peter had grown up in a spiritual home, he was unaware of the claims of the Bible.
"I'd grown up in a religious environment," he admits, "My grandfather was a minister but I left the church life behind as soon as I was old enough to make the decision."
Then in August 1981, Peter found himself in front of TV watching a Christian broadcast that he would normally have turned off immediately.
"My wife, Inez, had become a Christian," Peter shares, "She went off to church and during this time alone things began to happen that turned me from the critic of this 'born again' stuff to becoming increasingly interested in it. As I was watching the debate I began to see my sinfulness and the answer to being set free from it, and how to be forgiven! ... The TV seemed to be speaking just to me!
“I was a
who had been
a lamb”"All of my sins, my pride, my selfishness, my greed – it all came before me like a flood and what I saw was ugly. I'd never seen myself exposed like that and I was shocked to the core."
Later that night, Inez invited Peter to a friends' house nearby. They, too, were Christians and Peter steeled himself with well-rehearsed anti-Christian arguments. But, to his surprise, he found himself listening to their conversations very intently.
As Peter and Inez were leaving, the hostess slipped a piece of paper into Peter's hand, saying he might need it later. When Peter got home, he looked at it and realized that it was the words of a prayer to becoming a Christian.
It said: "Lord Jesus I come to you today just as I am. I thank you that you accept me just as I am. I admit that I am a sinner and repent of my sins of the past. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins and please come into my life and become my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my will to you right now. Thank you for coming into my life and forgiving my sins."
"By this time I had no doubt at all and went and found a quiet spot in the house where I prayed and pleaded with God for forgiveness," Peter remembers.
"I'll never forget this moment, there were no bells, trumpets or lightning flashes, but there was a distinct awareness of a giant burden being lifted off my shoulders. I sobbed like a baby who had been trying to take on the world on his own, trying to satisfy those self-consuming, never ending goals and yardsticks.
"Before my conversion I had done things my way. I was conditioned to the world's value system and could not see the forest from the trees, right from wrong, or light from darkness. But those few life-changing moments in my back garden opened my life to the truth that, 'Jesus is the way, the truth and the life'," he declares.
Peter choose to leave the field of cricket in 1996 because he felt called to become a minister and help others understand their need for a relationship with God.
"Cricket was always central to our family's existence," Peter recalls, "Dad had played a few games for the Orange Free State. My brother, Graeme and I used to play in our own backyard."
But for Peter, life is now so much more than cricket. He has established himself as an author, broadcaster, columnist, business executive, sports administrator and family man, as well as travelling extensively to share the joy of knowing Jesus Christ with many people.•