Nicholas Pooran said he has fulfilled a dream after making the West Indies squad before the age of 21. Pooran was recently called up to the World Champions squad for the three-match T20 series against Pakistan in UAE.
The 20-year-old Trinidad and Tobago native first made Caribbean cricket fans take notice when he sparkled on debut against Guyana Amazon Warriors in the 2013 Caribbean Premier League.
Later on, he showed those abilities on the world stage in a knock of 143 against Australia at the 2014 Under-19 World Cup.
Those aforementioned efforts were on full display again with his eye-catching power hitting performances with the bat during CPL 2016, on return to competitive cricket for the first time since December 2014, following a recovery from a car accident that injured his left leg in January 2015.
“It was an amazing feeling, I was packing my bags to travel to St. Kitts for Leeward Islands team camp for the upcoming domestic season when I got the call from the chairman of selectors,” Pooran said about the dream call-up.
“I couldn’t believe it and it’s a dream come true, because an aim of mine was to make the West Indies team before 21,” he said.
Andre Fletcher is the incumbent keeper-batsman in the West Indies Twenty20 squad and has showed good form in the format. Pooran acknowledged that it would be tough to straightaway replace Fletcher in the starting XI.
“After the CPL, I was kind of confident I could have been picked, but wasn’t 100 per cent sure. Fletcher is there doing a good job and if I get the opportunity, hopefully I put on a good show.
Having received his maiden international call-up, Pooran doesn’t want to sit on his achievements. He has already mapped his short-term future and wants to ensure he makes it count in the longer formats in domestic cricket.
“When I return from the UAE, I want to bat long and make a lot of runs in the four-day and 50 overs competitions and show everyone I’m just not only a T20 player. Also, I know my keeping isn’t my strength right now and I hope to keep working on it and improving in this area,” he said.
Two of Pooran’s coaches who have played key roles in his recent development – Simon Helmot, the Trinbago Knight Riders coach in the CPL, and David Furlonge, his Queen’s Park cricket club coach – also weighed in on his maiden West Indies call up.
“I saw his potential from the first CPL and it’s a wonderful story that he is soon to be an international player” stated Helmot, who is also assistant coach at IPL team Sunrisers Hyderabad.
“What has always amazed me about this kid is while he doesn’t have the intimidating physical look like other West Indies boys like [Chris] Gayle, [Kieron] Pollard, [Andre] Russell, [Darren] Sammy – for his age, he can hit the ball as clean as any of them.
“He has an X Factor that will be well regarded worldwide the more people see of hm. My only suggestion is for him to call up his countryman Denesh Ramdin, who is an excellent keeper, to assist with that part of his game,” Helmot added.
“When he got selected, first thing I told him is that the hard work now begins, because staying at the top in international sport is harder than making it despite his obvious talent,” explained Furlonge.
“I just hope the selectors haven’t singled him out as just a T20 player like they have done with other West Indies players, notably Pollard who has somehow never played Test cricket, because I saw a place for him in the 50 overs team as well. Overall, while many in Caribbean want to see him play the longer formats in the upcoming domestic season, given the realities – if he replicates his CPL form in Windies colours, the T20 leagues will inevitably come after him next year,” Furlonge concluded.