Jim Morrison once famously remarked about his band The Doors, “In that year of youth, we had an intense visitation of energy!”
In the context of cricket, isn’t youth the thing you need to have a greater shot at success?
Aren’t you more likely to succeed when you are young than when you’re nearing your exit?
But at 33, when one gazes at Kieron Pollard, it appears all we’ve come to understand about Cricket being more biased toward the youth is simply unfounded.
Toward the fag end of 2019, he waged a lone assault against Kohli’s India during Hyderabad’s First T20 taking his side to 207, after Hetty fired 57.
The 4 sixes required a minor twitch of the bicep.
In the final T20, at Wankhede, with a team featuring Lewis, Pooran, and Hetmyer, it was Pollard, not the others who took West Indies to 173.
68 of his runs came from 6.3 overs, 36 of which came just through sixes.
How often have we seen a man who scores at a T20 rate in ODIS with the same brute power and brisk timing one likens to a zesty youngling?
You don’t need to subject Kieron Pollard to intense scrutiny to realize he’s still got it; or that he’s going strong.
Forget the built and power.
That’s natural. A given.
It’s that zest for competitiveness; his reflexes, diving around, those airborne catches that define him.
Did that back then. Does it even now.
This is when he isn’t the 21-year-old boy from June 2008, who debuted in T20s against Australia. Not the new kid off the block who first played an ODI versus South Africa in 2007.
At 33, where most batsmen are either considering decisions about how best to elongate their careers and frankly, searching for a second wind, life’s come full circle for Kieron Pollard.
Never before has the Trinidadian seemed so eternally important for the West Indies than the current moment.
At a time where many of the famous West Indian seniors – think Narine, remember Badree, Charles, Sammy- are nowhere in the picture for national candidature, Pollard is the go-to man for Caribbean cricket.
The man on whose shoulders there’s the added responsibility to steer the future of a bastion called West Indies cricket.
That there are two souls in one body that makes this phase all the more interesting.
There’s the batsman- with renowned powers of beating the pulp out of the white ball, a man of might.
A bull-like figure that makes bowlers seem an ant.
Then there’s the captain, in whose hands rests the task of transforming a unit that, from 2015, has indicated regularly, that they’re more than capable of taking West Indies to the glory experienced in past halcyon days.
Put the captain and batsman together and you have a man with 186 international appearances for the West Indies, that have yielded 88 wickets and resulted in 4,500 international runs.
Pollard’s is a career that can be drawn into two verticals.
The period from 2008 to 2019- that manifested in him being the all-rounder who he has turned out to be.
And the period from starting 2019, upon turning captain, the contributions it can render.
In some sense, it’s a career that’s begun anew all over again. Bears the insignia- not done yet, plenty to still offer.
Fundamentally, you take an individual lightly only if you’re of a condescending nature or if you’re too overconfident.
We know what that’s done to some in the past.
Australia arrived in India in 2000-01 with their mightiest squad. India held onto their own.
South Africa were among the mightiest to take the 2003 World Cup. We know what happened.
In cricketing vernacular, taking Kieron Pollard lightly, a man with 191 sixes in the game (66 alone in T20Is), means taking someone with a strike rate of 94 in ODI and 133 in T20Is lightly.
It doesn’t help anyone to go nuts.
But what Pollard brings to the West Indies is a priceless experience of having stayed in the game for over a decade.
That’s a lesson in perseverance no coaching manual can give an Oshane Thomas, Evin Lewis, Shimron Hetmyer, or a Hayden Walsh Jr.
And while there have been disappointments in the past, none of which could’ve ever been easy to deal with, for instance being ignored for the 2015 ODI World Cup and the 2016 T20 World Cup, Pollard has the bright chance of correcting some wrongs.
He’s not just the bully with the bat in hand but the captain who has the freedom and with it, the responsibility to make contributions.
Guess what? He’s already done some, interestingly in the game’s biggest stage.
We all remember Marlon Samuels’ belter of a knock that defied Malinga and hence, Sri Lanka in the 2012 T20-winning finals.
But do we remember the lynchpin of West Indian success in the game held before?
For someone who’s been as much a West Indian – 1123 T20 runs from just 60 innings, 4 fifties- as a Mumbai Indian- 2755 IPL runs from 148 matches- Pollard’s greatest contribution came during the first big step his West Indies took to strengthen their claim at the T20 World Cup.
It was October 5, 2012, and the big semis against a Starc, Hussey, Watson, Bailey, and Cummins- powered Australia.
And Pollard decided to engage in fireworks on that blazing Colombo evening. Gayle had done the damage through a big 75 run knock.
Then came Pollard’s turn. He faced just 15 deliveries for his 38.
No batsmen from either team managed a strike rate of 253 save ‘Polly’.
Xavier Doherty seemed the prey, Pollard his big predator.
Later, he bowled just one over in which he removed the dangerous George Bailey, their top scorer that day. Then he got Cummins.
But to this day, we remember Gayle and Samuels’ contribution.
In some ways, when we see Pooran and Pollard holding the batting aloft, it appears a Trinidadian duo collecting useful runs.
But dwell deeper. In the context of revitalizing the West Indies, it’s an equation between the master and the apprentice.
Ask Pooran what he values most in the game after his pride in representing his country in national colors.
And he’d tell the name of the man who helped him breathe a new life in the sport.
That Pollard mustn’t be judged alone on his big-hitting skills but also for mentoring a man with the talent to be a possible-great is the kind of contribution West Indies need from a veteran.
Gayle is aging. Bravo, albeit back is nearing 37. There’s sadly never a surety of seeing Sammy back in national contention. No clue about Narine.
On the other hand, there’s a massive spark in Hope, Hetmyer, Thomas, Allen, Lewis, and Pooran.
Pollard is the fulcrum of the side, the binding factor between a generation that’s done its bit and the future.
He’s the current.
Given his ascendency to captaincy has immediately resulted in success – don’t forget two very important series victories; the whitewashing of Ireland and Afghanistan in ODIs, it seems things are far brighter for the West Indies at present that they’ve ever been.
There was also the series win at Sri Lanka in T20s, in a role reversal of sorts to their 2015 fortunes. All under his watch.
The start has been promising. But can Kieron Pollard lead to greater things ahead?
Thanks for this piece, Dev…..very well written with your usual eloquence. Windies cricket is undoubtedly on the upsurge with Polly at the helm. He has matured into a dominant figurehead over the years, boasting attrubutes that augur well….leadership, athleticity, and all round cricket skills peaking at just the right time. It’s good to have a player of that mettle leading the young stars with calm assurance and confidence. Reminds me of Champion Daren Sammy who asserts himself way up in the upper echleons of cricket….will he make a return?
He is true , if you are physical fit then age doesn’t matter