Middlesex v Somerset, Friends Provident t20, Lord's June 9, 2010

Pollard blows Middlesex away

The Bulletin by Liam Brickhill at Lord's

Somerset 158 for 5 beat Middlesex 155 for 6 by five wickets

Kieron Pollard singlehandedly took Somerset to a five-wicket win over Middlesex at Lord's with the sort of power-hitting that has made him one of the most prized freelancers in Twenty20 cricket. A characteristically enterprising unbeaten 48 from Eoin Morgan had lifted Middlesex to 155 for 6, and the home side then had Somerset in trouble at 31 for 4 in the sixth over in reply, but Pollard slammed seven fours and seven sixes to guide the visitors to what was eventually an easy win. Just as in their game against Sussex last week, Middlesex had bossed the Powerplay overs but - again, just as happened last week - they then lost their grip on the game and never recovered it.

Middlesex, uncertain after their mixed performance with the bat, suddenly began to show some hustle in the field when Craig Kieswetter, looking to dominate early on, flashed across the line at a full one from Tim Murtagh and top-edged to send the ball rocketing straight upwards, Gilchrist setting himself underneath the steepling chance. Gareth Berg also ran in with verve, beating the bat on more than one occasion and giving away just two singles in his first over.

Marcus Trescothick settled the visitors' early nerves with a seemingly effortless biff over long-off, but disaster struck soon after as a mix-up between Trescothick and James Hildreth saw the Somerset captain run out for 20. Jos Buttler's dismissal - bowled by Pedro Collins as he shuffled too far to the off side and the bowler speared in a leg-stump yorker - brought Pollard, Somerset's big name signing, to the crease.

Murtagh almost had a second wicket when Hildreth drove too early at a ball pitched up to him to send back a sharp return catch which the bowler, tumbling over in his follow-through, couldn't quite hold on to. Middlesex didn't have to wait long to make amends, however, as Hildreth cut Murtagh straight to Tom Smith at point. Again, the chance was juggled, but this time it stuck.

At the end of the Powerplay, Somerset were struggling at 31 for 4 and Shaun Udal brought himself on, and after a couple of nervy defensive prods Pollard chipped him just over the leaping straight midwicket fielder. Another uppish flick that sped past the same fielder and just five runs from his first over convinced Udal that spin from both ends was the way to go, but Pollard responded to Smith's introduction at the Media Centre end with a monstrous strike that sailed over long-off and an imperious loft over cover that never got more than four metres off the ground but sailed easily over the boundary.

With Pollard now in full flow, Udal was despatched for the biggest six of the day - straight over long-on and crashing into the pavilion wall near to the Middlesex changing rooms - and a cutter from Berg was flicked into the grand stand for another maximum.

Barely 15 minutes had passed since Pollard had lumbered slowly to the crease with his side in a spot of bother, and yet now victory seemed almost academic for Somerset. Six No. 5, off Neil Dexter, went straight into the Somerset dugout, and No. 6 - a colossal thump to wide long-on - brought up his half-century.

It could have ended there, as a botched call for a single lead to a mid-pitch meeting between the two batsmen, but, sensing that his team could not lose so long as Pollard remained at the wicket, Peter Trego sacrificed himself and was run out.

Then came a flurry of fours as Pollard clipped Collins firmly behind square on the leg side and then scythed Berg for three more boundaries - aerial, but bouncing short of the rope - in an arc between wide long on and deep cover. The target had been reduced to 24 from 30, with Zander de Bruyn trundling along quite happily at better than a-run-a-ball at the other end but quite anonymous amid the carnage.

Pollard swatted a seventh sixth off an attempted bouncer from Murtagh to take Somerset to the brink, and then sealed the result with a powerful paddle-pull that bisected fine leg and deep square leg. Unbelievably, considering the position they had been in, Somerset won with more than two overs to spare and Pollard, unsurprisingly, was named Man of the Match.

Pollard showed his worth in Twenty20 cricket at this level with the ball too, picking up three wickets as Middlesex struggled to build any momentum in their innings until Morgan's arrival at the crease. Coming in at 68 for 3 after a second failure with the bat for Adam Gilchrist - whose Middlesex record now stands at two runs from 11 deliveries for twice out - and two briefly threatening innings from Scott Newman and Neil Dexter, Morgan started slowly, running singles hard and looking to place the ball in the gap.

But after Owais Shah's dismissal - swishing Pollard straight to Alfonso Thomas at deep midwicket - Morgan unleashed his full repertoire of shots. He really got going with the shot of Middlesex's innings - an utterly confident loft over cover and into the lower tier of the Tavern stand - and followed that up with an intelligent tickle to fine leg from a Murali Kartik free hit.

After testing Udal's fitness with three twos in a row in the final over, Morgan pulled off an extraordinary reverse-sweep off Thomas - who bowled at sharp pace throughout - to move into the 40s. A full toss chipped out to cover brought yet another two, a flowing clip through square leg brought him four more from the final delivery, and in all 16 had come from the final over. It looked like Middlesex had a competitive total, but Pollard made sure they were nowhere close.

Liam Brickhill is an assistant editor at ESPN Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2010, 17:16 GMT

    Micheal holding was a great fast bowler, but when it comes to some of his comments, he is a fool. T20 cricket has a lot more strategy than ppl think, its not just about blasting, as seen with Sachin and Maheilia in the IPL3. Holding is just jealous of all the money that is being made by cricketers today. (2) Pollard's FC Ave is 37, its higher than some of the so called best players in the wi right now. (3) Had the WICB really been interested in "helping pollard develop" they would have given him a retainer contract, and sent him to the A-Team's unofficial test tour, not on an odi tour. (4) wi has no clue how to use pollard, they send him so far down the order, that when he does come in, he almost always has to go for broke, and when he gets out he is crucified. Make no mistake about it, Pollard's performances are not motivated by money, because he performs exceptionally well for T&T the land of his birth, the WI team just doesn't have a clue how best to utilize Pollard's talent.

  • RAJIN on June 11, 2010, 14:24 GMT

    ppl are calling Trinidad a club,Trinidad is not a club,it is the birth country of Kieron Pollard and unlike the West Indies his skills are valued there .West Indies cricket board treat players gr8 when they are playing well but scrutinize them when they aren't doing so well namely Hillaire.Why couldn't they just give him a contract like the others.Well somerset gave him a lucrative contract and he is delivering the goods for them same as for mumbai.And BTW I don't think this has anything to do with money cuz he gets less money playing for T&T in the domestic competitions and he has done us proud in the past.It is b'cuz of him Why T&T is the odi champs in the caribbean.His knock in the semis against jamaica got us to the finals.

  • NIGEL on June 11, 2010, 12:56 GMT

    This is so laughable we bat Pollard at 7 or 8 with 3 overs to go in T20 and fans and WICB, Michael Holding and Croft complains that he is not a cricketer!!! Explain to me what is the point of keeping him with 3 overs to go!!! Have we seen him bat at 3?? In fact why not open the blasted inning with Pollard, let him face 40 balls without thinking I must blast them All, all over the fence, and maybe, just maybe after 5 to 10 innings batting between 1- 3 we (well not me) as fans and WICB and Holding and Croft can have a never ending bashing of Pollard, the same way he bashed Middlesex!!! WICB get your house in order, you people make it sound like it is against natural law not to work if you don't have a contract!!! Well he has a contract with Somerset and is full filling it. Good luck Pollard, when you bash them just think of WICB if that is what gets you going, lol.

  • NIGEL on June 11, 2010, 12:22 GMT

    Kevin, maybe you need to ask WICB why they don't treat our boys with a little more repect, then you will understand why, because as someone pointed out, he performs outside of West Indies, maybe it is because he feels more comfortable with these other clubs, and it is not always the money, he is already a millionaire, sometimes it is just the attitude you get from your employers, that is ALL, that is all, that is all (I took that from Mighty Sparrow) I wish him well and hopes he does even better than he did for South Australia in January this year!!!

  • Dummy4 on June 11, 2010, 11:20 GMT

    people are saying that he chose the money and what not yet are they aware of the situation between wicb and wipa.

    effectively the WICB is saying that pollard has to play for the west indies and west indies A team without him having a contract to play for the west inides. now pollard has a contract with somerset, so it is only logical that he has to honor the contract with somerset. if he had both a contract with the WICB and somerset then he may have chosen the WICB.

    so as for the freelance comment, by playing with the WICB he effectively IS a freelance cricketer since he has no contract with the WICB!!!

    this is what led to fall out between WIPA and WICB because the players are playing for the west indies without contracts. would any of you work professionally without a contract?

  • brent on June 10, 2010, 18:58 GMT

    Take a professional and place him in a professional environment and you'll get professional results.........this is a lesson the WICB needs to learn or Maybe the players are not 'literate' enuff

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2010, 16:14 GMT

    A match winning innings of 89* from 45 from the man who is 'not a cricketer'!!!

  • Monte on June 10, 2010, 10:47 GMT

    Pollard seems to always show enthusiasm when playing for clubs such as South Australia, mumbia Indians, Somerset and Trinidad but almost none when representing the West Indies.I hope west indies give dwayne smith one more chance, cause guys like himself sammy and bravo always try their utmost best. They can drop pollard until he is ready to show a bit of commitment.

  • Dummy4 on June 10, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    Thats the way to STICK it to the Windies Board. Don't build a decent squad around Pollard or Bat him high enough in the order. The minute he goes away he performs at an elite level!! GO ON POLLARD

  • Andrew on June 10, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    I was at the match, sitting in the top level of the Pavilion and I can tell you that Pollard's six cleared the entire roof of the pavilion landing on the terrace bar behind. It went well over and above the Middlesex dressing room.

    There was some discussion that this roof hasn't been cleared before, although no one was quite sure what the record is, beyond the fact that Trott (Albert - not the grinder from Warwickshire!) managed to clear the entire pavilion at the end of the 19th Century... But I think the pavilion is taller now.

    Any one know?

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