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The Curious Case of Kieron Pollard

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Kieron_Pollard_West_Indies_IPL_CricketMarch 26, 2017.

West Indies are hoping against hope at 6 down for 49 when a Trinidadian walks into the middle. Three overs later, under 15 minutes or so, he departs scoring 14. What hurts the home side, languishing under Pakistan’s menacing pressure, is that he’s eaten 27 balls. It’s a T20 game.

That’s okay! It happens to the best of us. West Indies loses, as expected.

March 30, 2017.

West Indies are hoping to chase down 133 set by Pakistan, not a difficult target. With Samuels and Walton having lent reasonable tempo to the run chase, in walks the ‘T20 specialist’, a player with over 7 years of experience. He immediately departs for 3. Having faced 4 balls.

You’re left wondering, what went wrong. But again, such is life.

April 1, 2017.

West Indies finally manage a win, with 5 overs to spare. They’ve chased down 138 and the spoils are shared between Evin Lewis and Marlon Samuels.

You wonder how they won?

Could it be because Pollard didn’t bat? Relax, it was just an April fool’s joke.

Lame humor aside, Kieron Pollard’s recent performances for the West Indies have amounted to nothing more than a joke.

They are so underwhelming for a man labeled a T20 specialist that it immediately warrants introspection of his career and an autopsy of his so-called brute-hitting talent. The sad part is that Dave Cameron and the WICB won’t be interested in putting their brains to work here.

Here’s how Pollard’s been in his recent international T20 appearances

From his last 10 T20I games, Pollard has managed to make just 129 runs. This includes all his performances from the period of 2015-16 to 2016-17. His best series tally of 43 from 3 games against Pakistan, last year at UAE, leaves you shocked for a man who you’ve gotten used to seeing send a cricket ball outside the park.

What makes Pollard’s predicament unusual is whilst he’s failing for the Windies, he’s going quite strong in the IPL.

Traversing the boundaries of Caribbean, once you examine the turf of the Wankhede and the likes, you’re in for a pleasant shock when you realize runs are flowing from the big guy’s bat. Even as national failures go unnoticed back home.

Having just creamed the likes of Praveen Kumar, Munaf Patel and Jadeja on April 16, Pollard ensured the home crowd erupted at the Wankhede, singing praises for his match-winning 39 off 23. 3 sixes were swatted with the minutest twitch of those burly muscles.

A couple of days earlier, before Gujarat Lions’ thumping, Pollard crushed RCB with the effort of a lion removing a housefly from its meat. He scored a match-winning 70 in just 43 balls. The 5 sixes that kissed different parts of the Chinnaswamy Stadium instantly swept away the despair of those lean scores he’d gathered when wearing the West Indies maroon.

And it’s not that his overall IPL record is in any way underwhelming.

It brings to focus a format, rather a franchise Pollard best feels home at.

From 8 seasons in the IPL for Mumbai Indians, Pollard’s blazed 2122 runs from 111 games, the most he’s played in the T20 format. A better strike rate of 147 for Mumbai exceeds the waning 132 that he’s demonstrated under national colors.

That’s not all.

Surprisingly, Pollard’s technique seems to indicate free-wheeling striking, sans any visible follies for Mumbai Indians whilst he’s been downsized, uprooted from the middle stump and caught plumb in front quite often in T20s for West Indies. The same Pollard you witness getting caught off Hafeez, Imad Wasim and the like, dances down the track to send Jadeja, Mishra and Chahal out of the ground.

It’s rather puzzling to see Pollard’s wavering of the pendulum in one-sided direction for T20s, outside the ambit of national duties

In the just concluded PSL, as an important member of Karachi Kings, who finished 3rd on the table, Pollard’s aggregate was better than what it’s been for the West Indies for the longest time.

201 runs, 8 games, batting strike rate of 150 plus and 3 match-winning innings.

If you expected him to take his good form into the T20s against Pakistan, you were distraught to find out he couldn’t manage even a 30.

Furthermore, it isn’t that he’s been miserable in T20s alone for Windies. His ODI scores fall way below expectation

It could be argued that coming into bat at number 5 or 6 doesn’t warrant you much of an opportunity in ODIs.

But, when you play for West Indies, ever struggling, you almost always get a chance to bat. Often, for a large part of 20-30 overs that Pollard’s been consistently getting.

Here’s his ODI record: 3 hundreds, 2289 runs, batting average of 25.

One’s not sure how those figures are helping him or a side marred with constant waning form, now that they’re languishing at bottom-most place in ICC ODI rankings.

Windies’ problems are exacerbated by Pollard’s poor recent run

So much of power and muscles bring his dynamite presence into attention that you often forget, he’s a clever bowler. Well, not really. An ODI economy of over 5.7 an over and a T20 economy of 8.2 don’t suggest prudence.

In his last 4 years bowling for Windies, Pollard’s managed just 12 ODI wickets, conceding 584 runs.

Do West Indies still want him in their side?

I am no one to suggest and can only point to the direction of his stats.

Let’s focus on his batting again, for that’s what garnered him worldwide fame.

If you compare 2013 to 2017, Kieron Pollard’s played 23 games. That’s quite an opportunity for someone who’s known as a dangerous hitter of the ball.

But he collected only 457 runs. An average of under 21 is telling. More than the deafening sound you hear in Queen’s Park Oval.

Cricket, they say, is a game of judgment. It’s a measure of your skill. In the end, it is an examination of your statistical gathering. Pollard lags where numbers matter.

And unfortunately, while character can be lauded and your presence exemplified, it’s performance that matters. And shall always count.

It’s the fans back home who should be angry with Pollard the international player, not the guy who surprisingly was not suspended when he hurled a full sized cricket bat at Mitchell Starc on that evening in 2014.

 

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