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Cricket took hold in South Africa from the time that Great Britain began to seize control from the Dutch in the late 1700s (the whole of South African Dutch possession finally being ceded through the Anglo-Dutch Treaty in 1814). The first recognised cricket match in the history of South Africa was played on 5 January 1808 between two teams of English officers posted there. Interest accelerated sufficiently for South Africa to become the third Test nation (following in the footsteps of England and Australia) in 1889 (the same year that first-class cricket began in the country) against England at St George's Park Cricket Ground in Port Elizabeth. It was also one of the three founder Members of the ICC in 1909.
Politics kept South Africa out of the ICC Cricket World Cup until 1992 but when it finally got its chance it was ultimately beaten by the weather as much as England in the semi-final in Sydney. South Africa has since been subject to a succession of heartbreaking exits - none more so than in 1999 when a tie in the semi-final was enough for Australia to progress at its expense. South Africa also disappointed on home soil in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20, when it went out at the Super Eights stage. Its solitary major one-day success thus far came in 1998 when it won the first Champions Trophy in Bangladesh. It has always been a competitive Test outfit and traded positions with Australia at the top of the ICC rankings over the winter of 2008-09 when South African won away before its opponents returned the favour a few months later. Since then, South Africa has regained the top position in Test cricket, a spot it has held since 2012.
A six-team franchise system was introduced in 2004-05 to replace the previous 11 teams who had been contesting the major domestic competitions. Those six teams compete in a four-day and two limited-overs tournaments. The first-class programme is called the SuperSport Series, with each team playing the others home and away. There is also a 45-over competition "the MTN Domestic Championship" along with the Standard Pro20 that began in 2003-04.
There are many legendary South African bowlers and plenty of batsmen who have scored more Test runs than Graeme Pollock. Yet few, if any, of them would begrudge the left-hander his right to be called the greatest of them all. After all, it was not Pollock's fault that his time playing the game largely coincided with his nation's isolation from the international sporting arena. What is clear, however, is that when he did get the chance to play in 23 Test matches between 1963 and 1970 there were few to match either his class or run-making ability. Only Don Bradman has averaged more than Pollock's 60.97 (2256 runs with seven centuries from just 41 innings) in Test history and the Australian considered him as equaled only by Sir Garfield Sobers in terms of left-handed batsmen he watched over his lifetime.
South Africa's ODI win-loss ratio has been climbing steadily in the wrong direction whenever it plays a major side, and it failed to win a match at the ICC Women's World Cup 2009, bar the seventh-place play-off. It isn't so much that the nation is going backwards, however - there is plenty of natural talent - rather that the other teams are going forward with development and financial injections. Nevertheless, the ICC has helped South Africa to get more tours and the country has learned from other countries, such as following England in introducing a Super Fours event, and starting a Twenty20 domestic competition. It also restructured its provincial competition in 2006, mainly to reduce transport and accommodation costs. It made it to the semi-final of the ICC Women's World Twenty20 2014.