Despite an abysmal international record after 10 years in West Indies colours, middle-order batsman Kieron Pollard’s place in the team has been justified by outgoing coach Stuart Law.
Speaking after the Windies’ loss in the second Twenty20 International against India yesterday, Law said Pollard was a motivator in the dressing room and quite capable of performing on his day. Pollard has made 20 runs in two innings so far and his solitary over in a tight situation in Kolkata went for 12 runs and shifted momentum towards the hosts. India were reeling at 57 for 4 at one stage. But Law said Pollard brought much more to the table, and not just on the cricket field.
“Pollard brings a lot, both on and off the field. With the youngsters in the squad, it’s someone like Pollard who motivates them in the dressing room.
“He’s a senior member of the squad, and we all know what he’s capable of when he gets going. But yeah, Pollard isn’t in the side only because of what he brings inside the ground. He’s one of the biggest motivators of the youngsters, and he’s just a game away from reminding us why he’s such a T20 force. Look, Pollard himself would not be pleased with his show on the tour so far, and he’ll be itching to finish the series in a blazing manner.”
After 101 One-Day Internationals, the burly Trinidadian has managed just 2 289 runs at an average of 25.71 with three centuries and nine fifties. The white ball specialist’s record in T20I is even worse, having played 58 matches, scored 788 runs at 19.70 with just two fifties. His List A record is just slightly better with 3 134 runs at an average of 26.55 with three centuries and 15 fifties. In 433 T20s played across the globe in franchise cricket, Pollard has amassed 8 531 at 30. 14.
Law addressed the potential of the squad, noting there were a number of fantastic cricketers in the team
“We have got some fantastic T20 players. But, now it’s just about playing for pride. It’s time for them to dig deep and play for pride, and give it everything in the last game. If we play anywhere near to our potential, we can beat any team on the day. We need to improve a lot to get to that stage.”
“The team does have a lot of potential, and ‘potential’ is a horrible word because talk is cheap and actions speak louder. But it’s the experienced guys who need to stick their hands up and do the bulk of the work. They’re supposed to usher the youngsters in, but they’re not quite doing that. It’s a young team, though, and they’re learning on the job. Regardless of being the current T20 champions, we don’t have the same team here and learning on the job against India in India can be mighty tough.”
The West Indies will now travel to Chennai earlier than the hosts as the India players embark on a two-day Diwali break. But with the series already decided, there’s an opportunity for them to field left-handed hard-hitter Sherfane Rutherford possibly in place of Pollard, and the left-arm quick Obed McCoy in the final T20I to see what those two bring to the table.
Captain Carlos Brathwaite bemoaned the fact that West Indies were without two designated opening batsmen. Brathwaite said that the makeshift approach taken by the management – with regards to their opening pair – had forced the West Indies to always have a rocky start with the bat in the series.
In the first game in Kolkata, West Indies’ opening pair of Denesh Ramdin and Shai Hope – neither batsmen are regular T20I openers – lasted all of 15 deliveries, scoring only 16 runs between them, while in Lucknow, a new opening pair of Hope and Shimron Hetmyer fared only marginally better with a combined tally of 21 runs in 22 deliveries. With Chris Gayle and Evin Lewis opting out of the series due to personal reasons, Brathwaite said that the team was simply trying to make do with the resources that were available to them.
“We didn’t come to the tour with an out-and-out opener, so we are still trying to find our best opening combination. There were a few theories in the first game and also this game, on how we wanted our batting order, for different reasons. Ultimately neither worked, because we failed to get a good start. But we’re working with the players we have on tour, and it’s difficult to choose the best batting pair, but we’re trying. Up until a theory works out, it will look bad and give the pundits something to say,” Brathwaite said.
While expressing disappointment at the team’s bowling in the second T20I – including his own – Brathwaite heaped praise on right-handed batting all-rounder Fabian Allen, who bowls left-arm orthodox spin. Alleyne has bowled well in both matches so far.
“The way Fabian Allen bowled in the middle, and he kept the openers under wraps and eventually got Shikhar out. It is hard to look at the negatives sometimes, just need to take the small positives and go away with them.”