Kieron Pollard last played an ODI for the West Indies back in 2016 but the all-rounder has not given up hopes of making the squad for this year’s World Cup. His chances were given a massive boost following his explosive 83 runs from 31 balls to take Mumbai Indians from brink of defeat to a 3-wicket win.
Contractual disputes between the players and Cricket West Indies (CWI) have weakened the team for several years with the frosty relations culminating in their tour of India being called off midway through the series in 2014.
There have been signs of a change and agreement recently, however, with a new leadership team in place at the board and former captain and Kings XI Punjab batsman Chris Gayle returning to the ODI side for the series against England.
Pollard, like Gayle is famed for his six-hitting prowess, as was displayed at the Wankhede Stadium on Wednesday where he hit 10 sixes, returned to the West Indies fold after a year out to join the T20 team for three-match series in India last year.
“Yeah, of course you can say that. We have a new chairman of selectors, there’s a new president of the cricket board (Ricky Skerritt replacing Dave Cameron as Cricket West Indies president), and as I said you take it as it comes. Last year, you might not have been asking me that question,” he said.
“Yes, I scored runs tonight so all sorts of questions will come but for me it’s just about enjoying cricket and doing my best with my god-given talent.
“I am a cricketer. I am 31 and have a lot of cricket left in me. I had people close to me backing me. 2018 is gone. When you are losing people have lots of opinions. I am enjoying my cricket once again,” said Pollard about the phase that he had not been part of the West Indies team.
The change of guard at CWI has given hope to Pollard but he made it clear that selection is not in his hand and he would just look to score runs.
“Every time I get the opportunity to play, I want to do my best. There has been a lot of turmoil in West Indies cricket over the last couple of years. We have seen in the last couple of weeks there’s a change. Pollard was one of the guys blacklisted,” he said.
“The most I can do every time I step on the cricket field is try to put runs on the board. There’s people there who have the job to select and whatever and let’s see how that goes. As I said, I’m 31 years, Chris Gayle is still playing, he’s 39, and he’s whacking it all around,” he added about fellow-Caribbean who plays for Kings XI Punjab in the T20 League.
Pollard also singled out the performances of fellow West Indians Andre Russell and Sunil Narine, who play for Kolkata Knight Riders.
“We know what we can do and I think Chris batted superbly. A fellow West Indian is [Andre] Russell – he’s smacking the ball and it’s great to see the way he’s hitting the ball – and [Sunil] Narine (in IPL),” he said.
“These guys are having a good tournament and again, when your mind is free, you just go out and enjoy cricket. You don’t think about much because there are a lot of opinions, there are a lot of things, but it’s people as close to you and what they think matters.”
Our plans were good, but Pollard was unstoppable: KXIP batting coach
Sridharan Sriram, Kings XI Punjab’s batting coach, said they had their plans in order but it was little they could do to counter Pollard. “We have seen Andre Russell (of Kolkata Knight Riders) doing it a few times. (But) this was extraordinary. To do 13 an over for like 13 overs – took some doing and only someone like Pollard could do that,” said Sriram after his side lost on the last ball.
Pollard, promoted himself in the batting order, and struck 10 monstrous sixes and three fours in his 31-ball 83 run knock that helped Mumbai chase down the stiff target of 198.
Sriram defended his bowling unit that, barring Mohammed Shami (3 for 21), was carted all over the park by Pollard. “At that point of time you have to be positive and hopefully he mis-hits one. I think our plans were good but just that today he was unstoppable,” added Sriram.