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Ed Pollock: I'm not really a risk-taker says T20's fastest gun

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'I want to play for England in all three formats' - Pollock (1:59)

Birmingham Bears' Ed Pollock insists he isn't focusing on obtaining a fast strike rate and insists his dreams lie in representing England in all forms (1:59)

The Fastest Batsman in the World. With Twenty20's popularity established globally, that should be a title worth having, but as yet it's never quite caught on. Cricket's No. 1 gunslinger, Ed Pollock, is yet to cause much consternation on the streets of Birmingham never mind turn himself into a household name in Melbourne and Mumbai.

Edgbaston might be the home of Twenty20 Finals Day, but Pollock is only in his second season at Birmingham Bears and even in his home city he remains largely anonymous. "I can walk round the centre of Birmingham without any danger of anybody recognising me," he said. "I'm happy with that."

For cricket's rapid-fire brigade, it has always been so. It's a given that fast scoring is essential in T20, but somehow those who score fastest of all never quite get the attention, as if they are regarded as warm-up acts, lightweight entertainers before the real batsmen of substance - the ones with the big averages and big reputations - get to the crease.

But bowling attacks in the Vitality Blast have reason to quail. Pollock is shooting during his brief career at the Bears at a strike rate of 188.34 - faster than any batsman to have faced 150 balls in T20 - in a city that seems to make a habit of it.

Alongside Pollock, in the Bears' middle order, the New Zealander Colin de Grandhomme has long been a fixture in the world's leading T20 strike rates, yet for a player with such an outstanding record he remains remarkably unsung. And Heath Streak, the Zimbabwean, was also not shy of hitting the boundary boards when he played for Warwickshire - their previous T20 guise - in Twenty20's early days in England between 2004-07 yet he was just regarded as a bowler with the capacity for a big hit.

Birmingham is a phlegmatic city, not much given to self-promotion.

Even Pollock himself sounds unsure of the merit of his achievement, one which going into Friday's Blast fixtures amounted to 14 innings and 206 balls, 64 of which he has clattered to the boundary with an air of infinite politeness.

It is as if he is wary of the quote from the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu: "The flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long." When it comes to forging a cricketing career, even the fastest scorers of all want to play the long game.

"People see me as a T20 cricketer but I definitely want to play all three formats," Pollock said. "Why wouldn't I? I'm 23. It doesn't make sense to rule myself out this early. The reason I haven't played any first team in four-day stuff is that I just haven't scored the runs to warrant it. Others like Matt Lamb, Dom Sibley and Adam Hose are ahead of me. T20 is purely where I have been successful so far.

"There tends to be a correlation between really high strike rates and people averaging 15-20. Luckily I'm a bit higher. A high strike rate means I'm probably doing my role but I'd happily sacrifice my strike rate going down a bit if I start averaging 40-odd and getting a hundred or two. I'd be disappointed if I had this high strike rate and averaged 10. What's the point of scoring 10 quickly?"

Ask for a shot that stands out in Pollock's brief, flaring career and his mind dwells upon last season's Blast quarter-final at The Oval. Vithushan Ehantharajah, for ESPNcricinfo, referred to "the outlandish batting of left-hander Ed Pollock who, barring the pale complexion and boy-band curtains, put on a passable Sanath Jayasuriya impression with some devastating boundaries over square leg."

It was only 24 off 10 balls, but it set Birmingham on course for a record chase. Pollock's greatest personal pleasure in a heated game was a slog-swept six over square leg off Jade Dernbach.

"As I hit that I thought 'Oh wow, I've no idea how I've done that'. And I looked up and the ball was miles in the sky. I thought that's the biggest six I had ever hit. He said a few unflattering comments. It didn't help that the first ball had been a bit shorter and I'd top-edged it over the keeper for four.

"I love that feeling when you middle that ball and it comes off the bat. Very rarely do you get that feeling of perfection, where everything feels easy and you play a shot and go 'I don't know how I have done that.' That's why I play."

"I don't take risks on menus - I'm steak every time. I know what I like. Safe stuff, I'm not that adventurous" Ed Pollock

Not that such pleasure should be mistaken as complacency. Pollock's main enthusiasm was reserved for his team-mate de Grandhomme, who last week struck Imran Tahir, Durham's South Africa legspinner, for four successive sixes. In Pollock's eyes, de Grandhomme is appropriately named.

"He's ridiculous. The last match when he hit Tahir for four sixes in a row; that for me was pure excitement. He has played 155 T20 matches, I have managed 12.

"I get the easiest job in T20. Brand new white ball: I think I have faced only three balls that have swung, they hardly do anything; if the bowlers spin it, it skids on. The pitch is generally amazing - having grown up on club pitches that can be a bit slow, coming to Edgbaston is paradise - and then they only have two fielders outside the circle. Basically the 30-yard circle is my boundary for the first six overs.

"Colin's job is different altogether: coming out in the second half of the innings, fielders already out. He is clearing ropes; I am just plinking them over the top and letting them run away for four."

If Hollywood commissioned a film about the fastest batsman in the world, one imagines he would live life on the edge: fast cars, wild pursuits, a rebellious and destructive childhood, and pills of uncertain origin popped down while staring blankly into a bathroom mirror.

Pollock would not recognise himself if that was so. He studied economics at Durham University because he calculated it was the right degree to do for a potential career and struggled to balance his commitment to the course with his cricket and his social life: cricket was just a bit of fun with no thoughts that it might develop into his livelihood. Success at Barnt Green in the Birmingham League and in the Minor Counties with Herefordshire persuaded him otherwise.

He comes from a family of accountants and suggests that background explains why he is risk averse. He likes his life, and his cricket, to be "thoroughly ticked off".

"I didn't do risky lads holidays, I was playing cricket. It was very much 'get away with the family'. I don't take risks on menus - I'm steak every time. I know what I like. Safe stuff, I'm not that adventurous."

He hears like everybody that when Brendon McCullum came over to the Blast, he didn't train, he just played golf. He reads that Aaron Finch has used a break between matches to go with his wife to Berlin. He imagines, presumably, that Chris Gayle had some fun down in Somerset. Life is different for an organised, young English professional, just setting out on his career - even one with the fastest strike rate in the world.

"My version is I'd rather spend two or three hours in the nets and have a hit with the coach. I do my preparations. It's just not worth me winging it."

In any case, he does not regard his all-guns-blazing approach to batting as anything outlandish.

"It depends what you perceive as risk," he said. "For me, hitting a fast bowler back over his head I no longer perceive as risk because I have practised it so much I know nine times out of ten I'll manage to clear the infield. Apart from when I occasionally sweep a seamer - I don't know where that comes from - every shot I play is a shot I've practised a hell of a lot. I tick off every shot I reckon I'm likely to play on the bowling machine and just drill it until it's muscle memory so I can go out there and trust my instincts.

"The massive risk for me is reverse sweeping because I've never really practised it so when I do it in a game you know there's some trouble going on. But if a guy bumps me and there's a deep square I don't regard that as a risk because I know nine times out of ten I will connect with it and a new ball will fly over the boundary. I've practised enough to execute the shot."

Nine out of 10 is okay?

"Nine times six is 54? I'm doing my job then."

As any accountant should remind him, that rather presumes the tenth time is always at the end of the sequence.

Cricket's fastest gun even has a cricket notebook in which he reflects on his training and plans for the following day. It is like discovering that Billy the Kid wrote poetry.

He thinks back to his first taste of county opposition, at Durham University, when Cameron Steel, now at Durham, saw how tense he was and asked if he was all right. "I was very nervous and felt out of my depth. My feet wouldn't move."

Influenced by a McCullum video masterclass, he works hard to get his body as relaxed as possible. "If I trust my instincts to react, my body will do the right thing."

A second season has brought new challenges. He went into Friday's match with only 105 runs in five innings, his strike rate careering ahead at 238.64. His coaches must ponder whether talk of tweaking his tempo would be beneficial or destructive. And the word around the circuit is to test him out with spin from the outset. He knows it, and refers to it with the slightest hint of self-consciousness.

"I can now tell they are coming with a plan to me," he said. "Last year it was very much just go with their bog-standard plan and then when I came off they would be scrambling round, 'try this, try this'. Now very much it's, I'm on strike and they know exactly where they're going, they've got a plan. A lot of counties are opening with spin against me. But I hit Samit Patel for two sixes in the first over against Notts the other night. Essentially it's all a game isn't it?"