South African batting great Graeme Pollock rued the loss of his friend and former teammate Clive Rice yesterday. He tried his best to put the 66-year-old premier all-rounder's brain tumour-caused death in perspective by saying, "when your time is up, it's up."
There was another regret which Pollock was open about: "It's just sad to think that Clive was around for so long, but not used in South African cricket. He could have made a wonderful contribution as a manager/coach and in different capacities."
Pollock (71) reckoned Rice got a poor deal even before being ignored for a support staff role. "Ricey took the South African team to India in 1991 for three one-day internationals following which they (SA selectors) sacked him as captain for the 1992 World Cup for whatever reason. That was a bad mistake," Pollock told mid-day from Johannesburg yesterday.
"It's a sad day. I have been talking to some guys who played with Ricey, like Barry Richards and Mike Procter, and we are all devastated. It's a big loss to South African cricket.
Clive Rice takes a break during a net session before the November 10, 1991 India vs South Africa one-day international at the Eden Gardens, Kolkata. Pic/Getty Images
"Clive was a wonderful team man and as a captain, he always led by example. He made a great contribution to our cricket even during the years of isolation when South Africa was not involved in world cricket," said Pollock.
Rice's never-say-die approach was not restricted to his cricket. Pollock said: "He was very positive about his illness and he believed things would be okay and that he would survive, but in life these things happen. Unfortunately, it happened this morning (Tuesday). Ricey was such a determined guy."
Pollock particularly remembered one of Rice's performances against the rebel Australian team during a one-day game at Port Elizabeth in 1987: "We (SA) scored 316 and Australia were coasting along at 298 for two with lots of overs and good batsmen left. Ricey picked up five wickets in two overs and we won the game. However, he had many great moments."