GROS ISLET, St Lucia – St Lucian cricket fans have labelled their Stars franchise captain Kieron Pollard a “sell-out” following an amazing five-wicket loss to the Trinbago Knight Riders in their Hero Caribbean Premier League (CPL) clash at the Darren Sammy Stadium last night.
Knight Riders’ Darren Bravo and Brendon McCullum produced one of the greatest displays of power hitting in Hero CPL history to lead their team to a victory in a game that to all logic they looked destined to lose with just five overs to go.
Bravo belted an unbeaten 94 from just 36 balls – laced with six boundaries and 10 sixes – and McCullum smashed 68 from 42 balls during a fourth-wicket stand of 137 to help the Knight Riders snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, overhauling the St Lucia Stars’ challenging total of 212 for two, to reach 218 for five in 19.5 overs.
The result left fans at the stadium in disbelief, as their team’s losing streak increased to 15, dating back to 2017.
After Rahkeem Cornwall had struck twice in successive overs to leave the Knight Riders on 20 for 2, a Stars victory seemed on the cards. And even when Bravo joined the hard-hitting McCullum at 71 for 3, few believed there was any hope for the Knight Riders, including St Lucia’s Prime Minister Allan Chastanet, who was in the stands.
Heading into the final five overs they required 85 runs for a seemingly impossible victory.
But in the ensuing over bowled by Pollard, Bravo took his fellow Trinidadian to the cleaners, smashing him for five huge sixes in an over which yielded 32 – the most expensive ever in the history of the CPL. McCullum then joined in on the act, clouting Obed McCoy for two sixes and a four in the next over which went for 21, as the Stars’ bowlers suddenly began to lose their composure.
By the time Mitchell McClenaghan returned to account for the wickets of McCullum and Javon Searles within three balls of each other in the 19th over to leave the score on 209 for 5, the damage had already been done.
Denesh Ramdin hammered the final nail with a six, the 34th of the match, off the penultimate ball that not only sealed the win but also equalled the record for most sixes in a Twenty20 match.
Irate St Lucian fans put the blame squarely on the shoulders of Pollard who ended with figures of 1 for 52 off his four overs.
But former St Lucia Stars’ captain Darren Sammy, who once again did not bowl a single ball in a CPL match, quickly defended his teammate. Sammy told his fellow St Lucians that it was not right for them to characterize Pollard as a “sell-out”.
“Calling the St. Lucia Stars captain a sell-out that was out of order and I don’t appreciate that,” Sammy said during a Facebook Live stream this afternoon.
“When you go to Trinidad, when you go to Jamaica, you never see their fans turn against their players. They support till they die.”
Sammy said last night’s defeat, especially considering that the Stars were in a position of strength, was hard for everyone, not just the fans.
“Last night was really tough but if it is one thing I know I will never give up. I will never throw in the towel. As long as I have breath I will never give up and I know I can say that for the rest of the team,” he said.
“I don’t know what curse, what plague that is surrounding this team but I know my guys, my teammates are really, really trying.
“What I heard at the stadium last night, was not called for, not called for at all. We didn’t execute some of the bowling right, and to be fair Bravo and McCullum batted really well. Bravo played an exceptional innings.”
Notwithstanding the disappointment of last night’s debacle, Sammy urged fans to come out tonight as the team tried to get their first win in the fixture against the Barbados Tridents.
“I know I have called out for St. Lucia to come and support their stars. We’ve not won a game but we’re really trying, and I am begging again tonight,” he pleaded. “I know I am asking for a lot but come out and support.”
Earlier in last night’s game, half-centuries by David Warner (72 not out), Rahkeem Cornwall (53) and Pollard (65 not out, 50 in 18 balls) had pushed the Stars to their highest ever total and given them a real chance of picking up their first win in the competition in over a year.
It was the first time in CPL history that three batsmen had scored half-centuries. But in the end, the effort still came to nought.