It will be Millennium time at Newlands on Sunday.

It will be the appropriate moment to pay tribute to the legends of South African cricket, some of whom have been shamefully ignored in the past in their own country.

The tea break on the first day of the fourth Test match against England will be the moment when the United Cricket Board will name its "cricketer of the century". There are 10 candidates, six of whom are happily still in the land of the living - Allan Donald, Graeme Pollock, Barry Richards, Mike Procter, Eric Petersen and Basil d'Oliveira.

They will all be present, as will be relatives of the other four - Dudley Nourse, Hugh Tayfield, Frank Roro and Aubrey Faulkner.

It is something of which South Africans can hardly be proud that both Petersen and Roro are virtual "unknowns" in their own country. D'Oliveira would have fallen into the same category had it not been for certain individuals who had the interests of a great cricketer at heart.

Indeed, it is appropriate that D'Oliveira should be honoured in front of the England team because it was that country that he represented with distinction - he averaged more than 40 in his first series against the West Indies at the age of 34 - and it was an Englishman, the great radio broadcaster John Arlott, who probably played the major role in getting him recognised first at Lancashire League level, then with a county and finally on the world stage.

Who, then, will win the award?

There are cases that can be made for every one of the 10. Personally, I have always believed that Richards is the only player in the history of the game who would have had the hunger and intensity of purpose to pursue Sir Donald Bradman's great record of a century in every third Test innings and an average of 99,94.

But Richards only played four Test matches at an average of 72 with two centuries.

Procter and Donald might both have taken 400 wickets with greater opportunities. Who knows what D'Oliveira would have done had he made his debut for South Africa, as he should have done, at the age of 21 on the tour of England? There is no doubt that his statistics would have been up there with the best.

At the end of the day one can only go on statistics at Test match level plus the environment in which the players operated. The selection panel was given the mandate of choosing from players who were "different, special and unique".

To my mind there are only two players who qualify for the supreme accolade: Pollock and D'Oliveira. Pollock is second to Bradman on the list of those batsmen who have played at least 20 Test matches.

D'Oliveira had a bigger impact on South African cricket than any other player for reasons that were way beyond his control.

Where Pollock and D'Oliveira are identical is the fact that they have both brought great dignity to the game.

It will be a difficult choice.

There are only about 5 000 tickets left for any day of the Newlands Test and considerably fewer for the first few days. Spectators wishing to attend are advised to contact Computicket as soon as possible.

It is almost certain that Newlands' record aggregate for a Test match of 75 000 spectators for the India match in 1997 will be surpassed.

That was one of the outstanding Tests to be played at that venue with Sachin Tendulkar, Mohammad Azharuddin, Gary Kirsten, Brian McMillan and Lance Klusener all making outstanding centuries.

With England getting better and better with every match, there is every prospect of another feast for lovers of this unique game.