Pollard begins to cash in
Kieron Pollard has become one of West Indies' main money men without proving his value in the international arena. Pollard's wealth, including a US$750,000 fee for the IPL, has come from his brutal exploits at domestic Twenty20 level and until the fourth ODI in Brisbane on Sunday he had not scored a half-century at that level.
The game was lost when Pollard arrived but he showed enough in his 62 from 55 balls that Chris Gayle believes the allrounder can become a heavy run-scorer for the side. "I'm still happy with Pollard and the progress he's making," Gayle said. "It's a big improvement in the last couple of ODIs. It shows that he's very capable of getting an ODI hundred very soon."
It's more like a medium-range prediction for a 22-year-old who averages 17 in his 19 ODIs and is best suited to launching balls into the stands. Pollard took out some frustrating at his side's cause in Brisbane - and the strange-paced performance of Dwayne Smith - with a couple of big sixes, but he also showed he can vary his speeds. The innings followed up his 31 and 32 in the opening games when he contributed after some extremely poor starts from the top order.
"He's improving with the bat and the ball," Gayle said. "It's good for us and it's good for him as well." When Pollard is in the team it relegates Gayle to the side's second most powerful striker - "He's bigger than me so I think he can hit it further than me, definitely" - and he also provides value in other areas.
Pollard, who also has four catches in the series, has five wickets with his medium pace and sent Cameron White for an x-ray after he was struck in the jaw by a short ball. The Australians are wary of Pollard's big hitting but when Ricky Ponting was asked if the medium pacer was faster than he looked he said: "No, he's not. He gets a bit more bounce, and runs his fingers across most balls and a lot stick in the wicket a little bit."
Ponting wanted a single after White was bruised on 35, having turned his head after coming down the pitch to attack. "He wasn't interested in running," Ponting said. "He's getting used to it, it's the second time he's got hit in the jaw this season. He was okay out there, where everyone got a bit worried was it swelled up a lot during the break. Everything is okay."
If White recovers quickly Ponting may take a rest for Friday's final ODI and freshen up for the tour of New Zealand which begins late next week. Before then there are also two Twenty20s against West Indies and Gayle is desperate to finish the tour with a victory.
"We have a week to go, two T20s and an ODI, we're looking forward to winning the last game and get some momentum going into those two T20s," Gayle said. "We'll still be fighting."
Of course, the Twenty20s have become extra special to West Indies. Are they the most important? "Definitely," Gayle said as he left Brisbane with a big smile.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo