ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Netherlands v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Delhi

Pollard the giant takes small steps

Kieron Pollard has still to convince that he is more than a Twenty20 slogger and he'll need to score runs against better attacks than Netherlands to sway opinion

Firdose Moonda in Delhi

February 28, 2011

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Kieron Pollard hits the ball into the stands, Netherlands v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Delhi, February 28, 2011
And another: Kieron Pollard cleared the ropes four times but also managed to work the singles © Getty Images
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Kieron Pollard is a giant in India. He was greeted, for the second match in succession at the Feroz Shah Kotla, with the loudest roar of the match. Truth be told, he'd be a giant anywhere in the world, but in India, where someone the size of Sachin Tendulkar is the real giant, things are judged on a different scale.

His giant badge was probably pinned on him after his 18-ball 54 for Trinidad and Tobago during the Champions League T20 2009 and stuck with him through his travels in 20-over cricket - from South Australia to Somerset.

What he isn't, is an international giant in any meaningful way beyond the physical. The promise and the potential of becoming one hovers somewhere above him, somewhere just out of his reach, large as that reach is, and he has never quite grabbed it. In his international career of 33 ODIs, he had, before today, scored a half-century once and boasted an underwhelming average of less than 20, statistics not befitting a man who is painted as one of the most fearsome hitters of the ball on the current circuit.

He can bludgeon a ball, make no mistake, smack it so cleanly that even the poor round object itself wants to stay nestled in whatever stand, tree or floor somewhere far outside the stadium, for fear of getting the treatment again. He can do that, but what's the use it if he can only do it once or twice in an innings of fifty overs?

That's the doubt that's going to continually creep up on Pollard and will only start to retreat if he plays many more innings like the one he played against Netherlands with equally good, if not even better, results.

It started in that same scary fashion, with the second ball he faced sailing for six even though he didn't seem to hit it all that hard. It was just a case of making the right contact at the right time and the ball was experiencing life as a shooting star.

What came next was almost the entire magazine of a gun, flipped to automatic, shooting bullets wildly. There was the violent flick past short leg, the prod that was really a powerful push over extra cover, the full toss that was given its rightful punishment and the six that seemed like a mighty oaf had plucked a grape out of the air and flung it into anther galaxy. It was typical Pollard, bruising and belligerent, with not a care in the world.

On another day, he would have exhausted that magazine then and there, lost interest with shooting the target and got out shortly afterwards, but having walked in with the West Indies on 196 for 3 and knowing that there was not that much at stake, something was different.

His next boundary, a four, actually had a hint of finesse, a sprinkling of delicacy and more than a few dashes of timing. He used his wrists the way a whirling dervish does, flowingly, and steered the ball past the man at short fine-leg, placing it perfectly so that it found the spot he wanted it to. It was one shot of pure elegance.

He soon deferred back to fierce mode and continued smashing and flashing. He was helped by the balls the Netherlands bowlers gave him; too short, too wide, too full and sometimes too inviting and he played the role that we've become so used to seeing him in. Then the bullets stopped firing, he mistimed one and, as he so often does, found a fielder in the deep.

It would be easy to read too much into this innings because Pollard was able to play with a freedom not often afforded him. That he used it to get to a reasonable score only to toss it away when he'd had enough summed up what has held back his career. However, that he used it to score 13 singles, showed progression. Small progression, but the kind that shows, like Chris Gayle did earlier, a genuine attempt at hanging around and building an innings.

In the end, the substance of Pollard's knock was not too different from the one he played against Australia just over a year ago, when, with the team on a hiding to nothing, he had scored 62. He took more singles then, with just six boundaries in his 54 balls, but it was against a much more threatening bowling attack that would not have given him as many opportunities to clear the rope. Then, just as he did tonight, he went down in a blaze of glory attempting one big hit too many.

If he can somehow save that one big hit too many for the very end of the innings, after he has already added something substantial as he did tonight and did once before, then he will find his international giant status will grow very quickly, not just India, but all around the cricketing world.

Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent

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Comments: 20 
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Posted by Carson on (March 1, 2011, 23:16 GMT)

Very good point NP_NY. People tend to blame Pollard for his low average and failures not realizing that he fails because of how he is being used. if the West Indies keep sending him to bat in the last 5 overs to make 30 off 18 balls for a whopping strike rate of 175 runs per 100 balls then it simple means that if two out or three times he succeeds in doing that and fails one out of three attempts he would have only scored 60 runs in 3 innings for an average of 20 runs per innings - which by the way is his average at the moment. Pollard is as successful as the role they ask him to play. It's time they ask one of their most aggressive batsman to bat more overs. A quick fire 100 off 70 balls is way better than 30 or 18 balls. That's 70 more runs to the good at a strike rate of 142 runs per hundred balls.

Posted by N on (March 1, 2011, 21:06 GMT)

Just watching Pollard bat during the last IPL, it is clear that this guy is not just a pinch-hitter. He is fully capable of rotating the strike early on and exploding later. It is time for West Indies to decide if they want Pollard to come in late and score a 30 off 12 balls or bat a little longer and score a 100 off 70 balls.

Posted by Michael on (March 1, 2011, 20:52 GMT)

@Stranded_ Immigrant,Well said !When Pollard fails,they blame the capt.,coach and every man jack,with excuses like,'they sent him too late' ',he needs time to build an innings','he should have been in to make use of the PP overs',and so forth and so on.When he comes off,trinis are out of the woodwork like termites with phrases like 'trini to the bone',the coach and capt.got it right this time'.'the man has silence his critics again ?????',"the man is not a slugger',he has shown us that he can build an innings',and so forth and so on !all because he demolished an Associate member's bowling attack.Everybody except trinis,knows that the Netherlands attack is NOT UP TO INT'L STANDARDS.I wonder if he had failed again,what would have been their cry.Phrases like "Man ,you sent him in too late,' and 'with a start like that,he should have come at no.3' or the capt and coach should have put him to open',and so forth and so on,would have been bombarding cricket info.

Posted by Atul on (March 1, 2011, 15:29 GMT)

I wud say this is beginning of end of journey for one of the enthusistic hosts BD. I very much doubt , if they wud b able 2 make it to QF. Sorry, only 4 teams from side B wil reach that stage. Look at points table - Ind,Eng,WI,SA.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 1, 2011, 14:02 GMT)

They need to bat Pollard just as high as he batted here...give him time to play himself in...you can't send him in with a couple balls left in the innings and expect his average to go up... as a Guyanese WI fan...well done...I just hope they drop Smith...he's a waste for opening...

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 1, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

coaches need trainig,shiv is being used as up and down the order,can sammy bat like shiv,get real guys aha aha

Posted by John on (March 1, 2011, 9:37 GMT)

The associates might be upset by the change in format at the next WC. This kind of a match shows us why. So, did the Windies take the Dutch lunch money after they thrashed them! It's nice that Pollard scored against them but who are you trying to kid?

Posted by diren on (March 1, 2011, 6:17 GMT)

can he be the next Klusner and win matches from the jaws of defeat?

Posted by Christian on (March 1, 2011, 2:10 GMT)

@ Reuel Abraham & Jonathan Chase; I could not agree with you more. For the first time in his short career, the captain and coach has called it right in when to send Pollard in. One only has to look at his first-class record for T&T and the way he is used by Tendulkar in the IPL, and one would see that he is not just a slugger; Given a foundation and overs, he plays himself in. (in his way) As for Smith, I have not been one of his fans, but, in these two mathes thus far, he has shown a maturity that has been missing, while offering good support for Gayle and Bravo by rotating the strike, and farming the bowling. (He did farm the bowling against Netherlands until Chris Gayle got climatised to the lack of pace, as he did take the strike from Bravo when Steyn was beating his off.)

Posted by jermaine on (March 1, 2011, 1:36 GMT)

for once pollard show he can bat without everything going for four and six ...well down .

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