Kieron Pollard has challenged the West Indies selectors’ rationale for dropping him for the tri-series in Zimbabwe in November. Pollard said he was told that he had not been “committed to batting” during the recent limited-overs games against Pakistan in UAE.
Calling the decision “funny”, Pollard said he would not “campaign or do anything to convince them” to select him and instead focus on looking after himself in the future.
What confused Pollard about his axing for the Zimbabwe tri-series was that, according to him, the West Indies chairman of selectors Courtney Browne had agreed during a conversation in the UAE that his experience would be good in a young squad.
“When chairman of selectors Courtney Browne notified me via email of my axing, I reminded him of why my exclusion was funny because during the Twenty20 and one-day series, the two of us had a long conversation, speaking about wanting to have guys such as myself around going forward in West Indies cricket,” Pollard told ESPNcricinfo.
Pollard said he sought clarification from Browne on why he had been dropped. “He said I wasn’t ‘committed to batting’ during the tour, which I pressed him to clarify further because it was a broad statement. I asked specifically if this commitment he interpreted I wasn’t giving also related to my bowling, fielding and advice to captain Jason Holder. And he said no, and stressed it was just batting and, in his view, I was not trying.”
Pollard was angry his commitment had been questioned. “A lot people tend to say Pollard and many of us are mercenaries and have given nothing to West Indies cricket. While it’s clear I don’t have the stats or the figures of a Brian Lara, nobody, as some were trying to suggest, can ever question my commitment or integrity while playing. Why would I wake up one morning and just decide I wouldn’t want to try? Scoring runs is how I survive.”
Browne said he stood by the decision to drop Pollard. “Kieron’s performance in the ODI series was far below what one expects from a player of his experience and his effort level was not what is expected from West Indies cricketers,” Browne told ESPNcricinfo. “Kieron is therefore urged to compete in our domestic competitions, where he will have an additional opportunity to demonstrate his ability and can be considered again for selection.”
Before the tour of the UAE, Pollard had made 22 and 13 in the Florida T20Is against India in August, and prior to that he made 205 runs with two half-centuries in the home tri-series against Australia and South Africa in June. Pollard had been on the sidelines in ODIs for a year and a half from October 2014, before he returned for the tri-series in which West Indies finished runners-up.
In the UAE, Pollard scored 43 runs and bowled only two overs in the three T20Is against Pakistan in September. In the three ODIs that followed, Pollard made 42 runs and took one wicket in 12 overs. West Indies lost both series 0-3 to Pakistan. During the tour, former Pakistan fast bowler Waqar Younis, who was working as a commentator, had also said Pollard should be dropped for lack of effort.
Defending his performances, Pollard said that had he batted aggressively and failed, he might have been labelled as irresponsible. “I referred to him [Browne] in detail the match scenarios of each of my innings on tour and stated that if I had played a typical Pollard aggressive innings, in situations where the team was always in trouble – they would have claimed ‘irresponsible batting from a senior player.’”
Pollard said the West Indies team was not in the right mind-set during the UAE tour because the coach Phil Simmons had been sacked by the WICB the day the squad left the Caribbean. Poor communication between players and coaching staff, lack of clear inputs in team meetings from the coaches, and “very ridiculous” training schedules, were problems Pollard highlighted.
“One minute the team’s media manager, or even oddly the physio, was answering various questions,” he said. “And when pressed they said their instructions came from the ‘top’, which is a line I’ve never heard when Simmons or any other West Indies coach I played [under] used.”
Pollard said he had been “prepared mentally” to be “targeted” by the WICB after West Indies pulled out of the India tour in October 2014 because of an issue with player contracts. “It’s an attack on senior players. Look at the team right now. Only Marlon Samuels is a senior guy around in most formats, others are ineligible outside of T20s because of their selection policy which inadvertently targets us. You could say our axing is the final puzzle of removing the seniors and they have come up with any reason that suits them to get certain individuals out of the set-up.” Samuels had not been in favour of West Indies abandoning the tour of India.
What now then for Pollard? Will he play domestic cricket in West Indies , like Browne had recommended? “I’m 29 years old, but the way people talk of me being a senior player or veteran you would swear my age is 39. Realistically now I just have to look after Kieron Pollard. So I’m not going to campaign or do anything to try and convince them to pick me again.”