There are one off performances which tend to grab eyeballs and the image of Ricardo Powell hitting sixes at will during the 1999 tri-series final between India and West Indies in Singapore was one such knock. He is best known for a match-winning 124 off 93 balls against India that had an incredible eight sixes — not a very common sight during the 50-over games in the 90’s.
Now 39 and a chief selector of United States national cricket team, Powell feels that hitting sixes for fun is the new normal. “When I played, not many had that kind of game — only a few like Lance Klusener, Andrew Flintoff, Virender Sehwag. Now if you look at the game, especially the shorter versions, you have tons of people doing that. There is nothing special about hitting anymore,” Powell, who played 109 ODIs and two Tests between 1999 and 2005, told PTI on the sidelines of the first Test.
The size of the bat has also made hitting sixes easier, he feels. “Look at the bat sizes too. I played with the blade half the size of most current players. Top edges are flying out of the park. Hitting sixes is the norm.”
Asked if he thought that his best days ended before Indian Premier League happened, Powell begged to differ. “There is never a wrong era. Viv (Richards) and all those guys would probably say the same thing. Everybody had their era and that era belongs to you,” the 39-year-old said.
Taking another dig at the modern-day batsmen, Powell said:”I averaged 25 as a middle order batsman which is now considered good in T20s.” He did try his luck at the IPL auctions twice but none of the franchises were interested as he went unsold. Powell has no regrets over his playing career though many including the great Michael Holding felt that he wasted his rich talent.
A below par average of 24.82 with a hundred and eight half-centuries doesn’t do justice to his immense talent even though he seemed content with his achievement. “Wasted talent is someone who played a game and never played after that. I played 109 ODIs. I have no regrets. I look at my time and I feel good about the innings that helped West Indies win games or series. I would have loved to bat higher up but you can’t get everything,” he said.
Powell played his last international in 2005 but not many know that he made a comeback to play in the IPL, first in 2008 and then years later in 2013. Already a green card holder, Powell still plays for “fun” when he is not performing his selection duties for the US cricket team.
“A couple of years after I stopped playing, I figured I would have had something to do with coaching. Eventually coaching led to a selection role and I am enjoying the position so far. It gives me the opportunity to pick the right players and find new ones at the same time,” he said.
Powell is confident that USA Cricket Board will soon be recognised by the ICC and thanks to a host of players of Indian descent, the country’s cricket will boom in the next three to four years.
“If you look at the current national team, 70 percent of the team members are of Indian descent. There is a huge Indian population in the US and we have 250 clubs playing the game. That says a lot about cricket in the US.
“We might not have the same standard of grounds but the foundation is strong. Very soon, we will be acquiring new grounds and you will see visible progress of all the efforts within the next two three years,” said the Atlanta resident.