ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Ireland v West Indies, Group B, World Cup 2011, Mohali

Pollard shows West Indies a glimpse of the future

Like moths to a flame, Ireland's bowlers tried attracting Pollard's attention with short balls. He hammered them with all his might, and has the arsenal and hunger to become a good middle-order batsman. He needs the breaks.

Nagraj Gollapudi in Mohali

March 11, 2011

Comments: 22 | Text size: A | A

Kieron Pollard walked in today wearing a floppy hat. He switched to a helmet as soon as he heard big Boyd Rankin would be ready for him first-up but really Pollard need not have bothered - the way he batted today, it was the opposition that needed protection as he played the innings that will probably define his career.

His initial blast helped set a momentum lacking in the first 35 overs, a period when the West Indies top order wandered aimlessly. Pollard took 14 deliveries before playing his first big shot - a six with a neat flick of the wrists off Kevin O'Brien, no stranger to big hitting and the owner of the fastest World Cup century. Four balls later O'Brien fed Pollard the delivery the West Indian has built his million-dollar image on - pitched on length, Pollard cleared his front foot and smacked it over the bowler's head high into the stands. Strangely, like moths to a flame, the Irish bowlers tried attracting Pollard's attention with short balls. He hammered them with all his might and in no time he had reached his fifty. Even after the field had spread he knew he could create more chances in the final ten overs. The variations did not hurt him; in fact he didn't always go hell for leather. O'Brien bowled a wide delivery outside off, which Pollard steered past the third-man ropes. Sweet.

"Going into bat I was under a bit of pressure after a bit of a slow start," he said. "It was just a matter of backing myself which I am accustomed to doing. I was taking my chances and it came good."

With Chris Gayle missing, Pollard's role today was even more important. This was only the fifth time he was batting at No. 5, where he has now scored two of his three half-centuries. Batting higher up gives him time to settle; he gets more time to understand the bowler, the field setting and the pitch. Once in he can then pick the moment, the bowler and the spot where he would like to hit. It's not that he curbs his attacking instincts; he just sharpens it further.

Dwayne Bravo's exit from the World Cup has put Pollard in a position of enforcer and finisher. Among the world's top Twenty20 players, he's been grooming himself for the twin roles for a few years now. In a Champions League match against New South Wales in 2009, on a flat deck in Hyderabad, Trinidad & Tobago needed 51 off the final four overs. In one over Pollard - who'd started off slowly - hit Moises Henriques for 27 to turn the tables.

Kieron Pollard blazes one, Ireland v West Indies, Group B, World Cup, Mohali, March 11, 2011
Kieron Pollard believes that this innings could be a stepping stone for him © AFP

There isn't much that has changed in the last two years in Pollard the batsman. If anything he has evolved in his mind. The context does not matter to Pollard, just as it doesn't to Virender Sehwag or never did to Adam Gilchrist. Bowl these men a ball in their areas and they will punish you. Pollard doesn't have the same array of shots but he is not entirely handicapped. He hates allowing the bowler to dictate terms, yet at the same time he challenges the bowler to come at him. At times the bowler tries hard and Pollard flattens him with his power batting.

It's not all physical power; Pollard has started excelling in the mindgames too. He sets up the duel, adding a bit of verbal to whatever he's doing with bat or ball, and generally has a lack of fear that intimidates the opponent and creates doubts in his mind. That's all the chink he needs.

Today Ireland suffered those doubts. "You scratch your head a few times in a team meeting. He is a pretty special talent," William Porterfield, the Ireland captain, said. "He played at a crucial stage as well where they had to score quick runs and he got them into a good position."

Though he missed a maiden century, Pollard acknowledged the significance of the innings. "It is a stepping stone for me. I hope I can use this to go on and play better innings, and more frequently, for West Indies because the press is saying, and everyone is saying, Pollard hasn't really done anything in international cricket," he said. "There is no better stage than a World Cup to go forward."

Deep down Pollard must know the conflict is internal - he earned his reputation in the Twenty20 fields. If he has to prosper in the longer formats, he needs to come up more often with such performances. He could do with support from his captain Darren Sammy, who sat next to Pollard during the media briefing, wearing a contemplative look as Pollard spoke on his willingness to bat at any position the team wants.

West Indies need to have a re-think. The light is fast dimming on Shivnarine Chanderpaul and to an extent, on Ramnaresh Sarwan. Pollard has the arsenal and the hunger to become a good middle-order batsman. He needs the breaks.

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 14, 2011, 20:53 GMT)

WI looking forward to another stunning overall performance with both bat and ball. Skip well done with the ball in your two last engagement hope you can come out even better but remember you need to come good with the bat. No doubt WI will demolish England ironically England was in the top three favorite to win the WC and now is about to pack their bags to return home after the first round. WI you on your way for the championship, Sammy you are just one performance away to shut your critics. Go windies.

Posted by Simon on (March 14, 2011, 14:30 GMT)

The West Indies team is shaping up nicely and should be a force to be reckoned with in the near future. Pollard ofcourse could be an important part of that transformation, and clearly, it would help the process if Chanderpaul and to a lesser extent - Sarwan, retire from the one-day game in particular. There is also a need for one or two other strike bowlers along with Roach, and Sammy despite is nice attitute as Captain, will need to really cement his place as a player. Regarding the matter at hand, Bangladesh is depending on WI to beat England to facilitate their passage through to the quarter-finals of the World Cup. Fortunately for them, we will do so on our way to greater things. Good luck WI.

Posted by PATRICK on (March 14, 2011, 11:08 GMT)

@metman I like ole talk as well but your comments are not constructive. His style is different. He is not meant to anchor the innings but to score runs quickly and destroy attacks when required. Is this not limited overs? He is probably better prepared having played against the world's best in the IPL and in the Big Bash already in his short career. So I still expect big things from him whomever he is playing. And if he does happen to fail once or twice along the way so what? I don't expect every batsman to perform every time. Go KP show them what yuh made of!

Posted by PATRICK on (March 14, 2011, 4:27 GMT)

I hope he proves you wrong Metman for our sake! And I still cannot understand Marlon Samuels. Pollard said it - There is no better stage than a World Cup to go forward. Maybe Samuels is already a rich man and does not need IPL money. He could have launched his career on this Indian stage.

Posted by Michael on (March 13, 2011, 10:19 GMT)

Pollard continues to destroy ASSOCIATE TEAMS ATTACK.In other words,he is a destroyer of bowling attacks that are NOT UP TO INT'L STANDARDS.Those teams will not be in the next WC.Pollard struggled in SL in Jan,and was out first ball against SA recently.People who know cricket will judge him after Mar.17th.Pollard is a swiper ,he doesn't know how to build an innings,he scores his runs by swiping,so don't say that he needs time to build an innings!You don't score 60 in 26 balls,and 94 in 54 balls by building an innings.Pollard had ample time to swipe against SA,at least 20 balls out of the 5 overs when he came in ,to score at least 40 runs.@PaddyRasta!Don't get confused with constructed criticism,humour,wit and a little 'picong', with hatred!

Posted by Alexei on (March 13, 2011, 9:11 GMT)

This is exciting i must say...with the emergence of Pollard and Barath, the return of Samuels and some real form frm Smith and Sammy being the captain have the selectors in a selection dilemma for ODI team in the near future..

Posted by Godfrey on (March 12, 2011, 20:06 GMT)

WELL done WI.A fine knock by POLLARD.Can we defeat ENGLAND? Why not.YOU know how I feel about DEVON.HOWEVER I will have to go with him,after all he made a century. SWANN may very well be the key.What about resting SHIV.Give EDWARDS a knock.NO harm in a little exposure.Dont let us be too predictable. REST ROACH for INDIA,THEY are suckers to genuine pace. SHOW ENGLAND a little of BISHOO, that will not hurt him. POLLARD looks comfortable at five.LETS see how that works.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 12, 2011, 10:40 GMT)

I am very pleased to see Pollard finally doing something worthwhile with the bat for West Indian cricket! May he improve and go from strength to strength. There is HOPE for West Indies! Our ODI Team for the future is looking good. When fit...Gayle, Barath, Darren Bravo, Sarwan/Samuels, Pollard, Dwayne Bravo, Carlton Baugh Jr, Jerome Taylor, Sulieman Benn, Fidel Edwards and Kemar Roach!! Not to mention Sammy, Lendl Simmons and Devon Thomas in reserve!! Chanderpaul needs to retire from ODI's

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 12, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

well done pollard, i hope this innings is a stepping stone for greater things 2 come,lots of people write u off but i'm happy u go out there and showed them why u r on the team, plz keep it up, good luck in all the rest,God bless.

Posted by Sibhi on (March 12, 2011, 6:29 GMT)

What I could as the WI Cricket Board is to let Pollard Play for a while like Pathan did,He did Come Up with few stunning Innings Lately.They Both are No different.In their Area,it will be "Marauded" Out of the Stadium.All the Best.Could be A Key Player along with the Bravo's in the Future :)

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