Playing India was a turning point in my career

Published: Friday, October 20, 2000, 18:23 [IST]
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Rajkot: Brian McMillan was probably the first genuine all-rounder from South Africa after their re-entry into the world of cricket. South Africa had been banned by the International Cricket Council due to Apartheid.

Players like Shaun Pollock and Lance Klusener came much after McMillan. He was not the fastest of fast bowlers from South Africa but when he was on fire he too produced the speed of Donald. He wasn't a genuine match-winner yet he was the sort of fast bowler who produced a lethal break through which proved to be the turning point in the end.

He was also a reliable batsman with a wide variety of strokes. He was a genial person and was very friendly with India's left-arm spinner Venkatpathy Raju. A towering personality with a "Hollywood" actor like face, he had a huge fan following especially from among the girls.

This gentle giant of modern cricket recently retired from international cricket. "Playing in India in 1991 was the turning point of my career," McMillan told this correspondent during his last visit to India. Excerpts of the interview.

How did it feel to be considered as one of the leading all-rounders of the game?

It was indeed great feeling to be recognised as a premier all-rounder. I worked very hard for it with a lot of dedication. Besides, one has to strive hard for the success as I did. I was extremely happy that players and critics had taken note of my prowess.

How different were you from the other two great all-rounders of your time, Kapil Dev and Wasim Akram?

Wasim is actually a handsome bowler, who does everything handsome with the red cherry as well as the willow in his hand. His innings double century and his innings against Zimbabwe came in the most trying circumstances. But he is a wonderful bowler and on his day a perfect match-winner.

Kapil Dev too was a great swing bowler with very good command over line and length. He was a very aggressive batsman also and was real asset to any side in both forms of the game. I still remember his hundred at Durban when India toured to South Africa for the first time.

But I think I was also a genuine all-rounder and I was lucky to have role models like Mike Procter and Clive Rice, who were both truly majestic all-rounders.

Can you throw some light on the fast bowlers of the South Africa with whom you have played?

Well there is no doubt that Alan Donald is the best fast bowler in the world. We had one of the shrewdest swing and accurate fast bowlers in Fannie de'Villiers, who really served the country to fulles of his abilities. We had a couple of more but I really felt very sorry for Bret Schultz, who could have been very dangerous but he was injury prone and lost quite a few vital series in his prime.

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