Pollard's calm amid the violence
We freeze sportsmen into a solitary frame that perfectly captures their art and personality. Imran Khan was the leap. Kapil Dev was his pre-release load-up. Viv Richards was the swagger. Sunil Gavaskar was his leave outside off. Brian Lara was the whiplash square-drive. You get the idea.
If a sculptor had to chisel Kieron Pollard, he might have him finishing a hit over long-on, eyes watching the ball and the bat hanging over his shoulder. It's easy to pick that image. It would miss the essence of Pollard, however. It's the moment immediately after he completes that shot that best defines him. He drops his left hand holding the bat beside him and just stands there. Almost still. There is no expression on the face. The eyes are looking into the distance. It's that calmness that captures his nonchalance. The non-striker, who had reached half-way down the pitch stops as he learns from Pollard's reaction that it's a six.
"As soon as you hit, you sometimes get the feeling that it's going to be a six," Pollard said later. Adam Gilchrist has put it better: "You are the first person in the ground to know that it's going to be a six." It's the big-hitter's intimate private moment. It's a knowledge that gives him a high. It's an art that requires some amount of thought. "You see the ball and try to connect as much as possible. You practice a lot. You pick your areas and try to hit there," Pollard said.
Pollard's preferred areas are known to Guyana. "He likes to hit straight and to the on side towards long-on," Sarwan said. Guyana had met and stopped Pollard in the Twenty20 semi-final in the competition that knocked out Trinidad and Tobago out of the Champions league. Back then, Sarwan said his bowlers executed the plan perfectly. "You don't bowl straight to him, you bowl wider at him and make him try fetch it. Today, my bowlers bowled too full and too close to him." And he walloped them. Pollard later said the semi-final loss was in the back of his mind and it was nice to give it back to Guyana.
Guyana did bowl a lot of tripe today. Too full and too straight, as their captain said. Time and again, Pollard cleared the front foot and swung through the line. One six flew over 128 metres, the longest in the competition. Many disappeared over long-on. One, in particular, stood out. It was a full delivery and Pollard just wristed it softly. Or so it seemed. The ball was thrown back from the long-on stand.
Pollard just bullied the kids from Guyana today. In Mumbai's previous game, against South Australia, he hit one shot that screamed of quality. Shaun Tait had released an express delivery- short and climbing nastily. Pollard smashed it with slaughterhouse finality and the ball flew over midwicket and out of the ground. It was a brutal moment packed with adrenaline, courage and imperiousness. It was Pollard.
However, until he repeats this kind of violence against international attacks, and consistently, there will remain a question mark against him. Until then, his critics like Michael Holding who said "Pollard is not a cricketer" will not be satisfied. And rightly so. But before he does that, we can all enjoy his muscled hits and the nonchalance that accompanies it. Pollard reduces batting to its most basic form: See the ball and give it a whack. It's how the kids try to play. Pollard gives us the same joy; he takes us back to our childhood.
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at Cricinfo