Kieron Pollard

LEGACY TO CEMENT: Kieron Pollard. —Photo: CWI Media

 
 
Before he had ever swung a bat for the West Indies big side, Kieron Pollard spent some time in England, in the Lincolnshire League playing for a club called Haxey. They still remember him there for how far he hit the ball, even as a 19-year-old.
The young Kieron also developed strong ties with team-mate Tom Scott and his family, who eventually invited him to stay with them.
The Scotts will probably be watching with interest, then, when Pollard leads the West Indies out against England in their first match in defence of the T20 World Cup title in ten days’ time.
Who would have thought, when Dave Cameron still ran things at Cricket West Indies, that there would ever come a day after 2016 when Pollard would be a Windies captain. You just never know about life and cricket.
After Pollard supported Dwayne Bravo with the pull-out from the tour of India in 2014, and then Darren Sammy embarrassed Cameron’s CWI in his victory speech after the 2016, a tense relationship between Sammy, Pollard, Dwayne Bravo and company and the establishment became irreversibly broken.
But in 2021, West Indies cricket is in a different place. Reconciliation has been achieved. And so here Pollard is, with the opportunity to show how much good has come from reintegrating the region’s best cricketers.
How much that thought will be on captain Kieron’s mind when the first ball is bowled in the Windies’ first match, is anybody’s guess. But this World Cup was part of the basis for bringing the likes of Pollard and DJ Bravo and Chris Gayle back. This Emirates/Oman gig was a big reason Pollard was given the white ball captaincy.
As a T20 player, “Polly” does not have anything to prove. He is, along with the “Champion” Bravo and the “Universe Boss” Gayle, a master of the game’s shortest format, and one of the most decorated players in its history.
The six-hitting ability that Tom Scott witnessed with awe back in Haxey has become standard fare the world over for Pollard, first, in the Champions Trophy tournament of 2009 where he announced himself with Trinidad and Tobago. One innings — that 54 not out off 18 balls against New South Wales —made Pollard box office material. Mumbai Indians of the Indian Premier League bought a ticket, and they have been seasonal fans of the big man from East Trinidad ever since.
It has always been a regret of mine that Pollard never made space in his career to give Test cricket a try. I saw his century against Guyana in his debut first-class season. I was intrigued by it, captivated by the ease and cleanness of his hitting. And for all he has achieved as a T20 smasher, the feeling sticks to me like laglee that he would have been a super player in all formats had he given himself more time playing the longer game. At least DJ Bravo had that foundation before he went to make his money.
Despite that omission on his CV though, Pollard has become a valuable cricket asset.
One can argue that the West Indies cricket team has not seen the very best of him; but this where this last phase of Pollard’s career can prove to be a game-changer.
By accepting the white ball captaincy, Pollard has taken on the challenge of lifting the Windies’ stocks — in 50-over cricket especially — from the place of mediocrity where they have resided for about two decades. He can do much of that heavy lifting with his own bat.
But this T20 tournament will therefore not only test his ability to deliver success, it will also say something about how much Pollard’s attempts to improve the cricket culture and lift standards is succeeding.
Having invested in bringing him back to effect change on the field, CWI president Ricky Skerritt and vice-president Dr Kishore Shallow will be keen for this campaign to go well, especially because of the disquiet that has developed over the composition of the squad.
As captain, Pollard does not have a winning record in T20s — nine wins, 12 losses. But those games were auditions for this World Cup show.
As both captain and player, he has always been a winner.
The opening act is against England. And from Haxey to Hosoro, to Holetown, Old Harbour, to Hard Bargain, the world will be watching to see whether his winning touch can protect him against the poisoned chalice that the Windies captaincy has become.
If things go well, Pollard’s legacy in WI cricket will be sealed, in solid gold.
garth.wattley@
trinidadexpress.com

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