AUCKLAND, New Zealand – West Indies Twenty20 International captain Kieron Pollard said his side should use their three-match series against New Zealand, starting Friday (2 am – East Caribbean Time) at Eden Park, to improve their results in the format.
The Windies are the reigning World champions and the only international team to have won the title twice since its inception 13 years ago – but they are currently ranked ninth in the ICC T20I Team Rankings.
The Caribbean side have won only 15 of their previous 47 T20Is, since clinching their second World title four years ago in India – but they have won their last three matches – including two in March this year on the Tour of Sri Lanka.
One of the chief reasons advanced for West Indies’ low rankings has been the availability of its leading T20 players, including Pollard over the period. They have missed T20Is because of other domestic T20 playing commitments around the globe or injury.
But Pollard said his side must do better and the series against New Zealand was the perfect time to start.
“T20 cricket is a format in which I think we should be performing better and more consistently in terms of a team because we have the necessary guys to do the job,” he said in an interview with WESN TV in his native Trinidad.
“We just have to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The plans have been put in place, virtually (for this series). We have the information on the New Zealand opposition from our analyst.”
He added: “It’s just a matter of us studying that information (from the analyst) and coming up with plans, and I am looking forward to these challenges (against the Blackcaps).
“Last time, we were here as a team, we did not do too well, but that’s history.”
The Windies have won only once in eight matches in New Zealand – and that required a Super Over to achieve.
But their preparation for this series has been far from ideal with Pollard and five other members of the squad – his deputy Nicholas Pooran, fellow left-hander Shimron Hetmyer, all-rounder Keemo Paul, left-arm pacer Sheldon Cottrell and left-arm spinner Fabian Allen – holed up in a managed isolation facility under the country’s COVID-19 protocols for the past two weeks.
The six players arrived from the Indian Premier League in the United Arab Emirates on November 12 and have had limited training.
They completed three mandatory tests for the COVID-19 virus, which all returned negative, and they are scheduled to leave the quarantine facility on Thursday.
The six players will join up with the remaining members of the squad that have already been in New Zealand for the past month and arrived in the city for the first match of the series.
Pollard said he would not allow his side to use the less than perfect preparation as an excuse for failure in this series.
“There is nothing better than coming out on top when your back is against the wall,” Pollard said.
“The quality of training and the longevity of any opportunity to go and bat [have] not been there, but we are making use of every opportunity.”
Pollard said: “It is something that I will get straight out of the window from the time I meet up with the rest of the team on Thursday night, the day before the game.
“We will not have a practice session together as a team. That will go straight out of the window immediately because it becomes irrelevant once you step out onto the field. People do not want to hear it. We have to do what we can in order to prepare ourselves for the series.”
Pollard said the situation will require a lot more patience and understanding from him as captain and the support staff that when a player does not hit the mark, he is not made to feel he has let the team down.
“The guys that have not had a chance to practice fully, so it will be to guide them along when they get a chance on the field,” he said. “Lack of playing time, it’s different. The lack of intensity is different.
“Having the understanding that mistakes will be made, but it’s not about bowling bad deliveries, it’s about what’s to come. It’s to make up pretty quickly. Couple bad balls and you get a few wickets, everything is forgotten until you are planning for the next game. Those are the little areas of which we have to be wary.”
He said: “Guys not getting to bat out in the middle, they might be a little tentative. It is what it is, but the two teams will be in the same boat. It’s a challenge, but you have to tackle it head on.
“Once you give 100 percent and watch yourself in that mirror because you can lie to everybody else, but as long as you can look at that person in the mirror and know you have given 100 percent, it’s all that matters.”
The second and third matches of the series will be contested this coming Sunday and Monday – both will take place at Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
NEW ZEALAND (from): Tim Southee (captain), Hamish Bennett, Devon Conway, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Kyle Jamieson, Daryl Mitchell, Jimmy Neesham, Glenn Phillips, Mitchell Santner, Ish Sodhi, Tim Seifert, Ross Taylor.
WEST INDIES (from): Kieron Pollard (captain), Nicholas Pooran (vice-captain), Fabian Allen, Dwayne Bravo, Sheldon Cottrell, Andre Fletcher, Shimron Hetmyer, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Keemo Paul, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr, Kesrick Williams. (CMC)