West Indies v India, 4th ODI, Antigua June 14, 2011

'Ronin' Pollard finds his master


In some ways Kieron Pollard represents this West Indies team. He is the ronin of world cricket - the samurai with no master. Pollard plays Twenty20 cricket around the globe. He also plays for West Indies. And on days like today, when he does well, you see hope filtering through the cracks.

Some say that West Indies has been economically, politically and socially dislocated. That those bricks of anti-colonialism that once held the wall of solidarity among cricketing fraternity have fallen. In this age of rootless culture, the way forward for this team might be individual salvation. Fire in Babylon is passé. It's fire in the individual belly that counts. Pollard is flag bearer of this new generation. As Tony Cozier wrote once on a West Indies tour of Australia, "it could be individual self-interest that strengthens the team ethic on this tour and beyond."

Pollard says he doesn't find much of a difference playing in an IPL team or West Indies team. "It's not much different. When you go out to bat it's got nothing to do with the team. It's you alone with the bat against the opposition. I don't think it has got anything to with the atmosphere of the team. You have to find a right way to train and fit into the team."

Things rolled out very well today. For someone who plays so imperiously straight down the ground, he has perplexed with his heaves across the line, when playing quality spin. When the ball dips rapidly on him and he is not quite up to the pitch of the ball, he just heaves across. In a previous game, he was trapped lbw by one such attempt against Amit Mishra. Today, though, he changed that approach. When the ball wasn't in his arc, he defended. The bat came ahead of the pad, the bat-face was straight, and he rarely played across anything in desperation.

It didn't come without some early nerves though. Off his eighth delivery, he went hard at a leg break from Manoj Tiwary but it flew off the edge to safety. A ball later, he again went for a big swing but it spun away from the edge. There is a thin line between imperiousness and foolhardiness. He was living on that edge. He had described what runs through his mind in those states. "If it's the first ball or the last ball, it doesn't matter if the ball is in my arc."

Another Tiwary over saw him really settle. The first ball crash landed on the sightscreen, the second flew past a startled Tiwary, and Pollard was on his way. This was the moment of danger. Will the adrenalin surge through too much? It was also the moment that the captain Suresh Raina got into the act. He placed himself at mid-off with a long-off behind him. It was almost the field setting that MS Dhoni had set once to entrap Pollard in an IPL game. Tiwary floated the ball across and Pollard leaned forward to push it quietly to the off side. And he stayed quiet for the rest of the over, tapping it gently to the off. It was the moment you realised that it's a very determined Pollard who is out there today.

The next four came 25 deliveries after that four against Tiwary. Yet again, it was straight down the ground. The next four boundaries too came from careful shot selection. Each of those deliveries were either on the legs or so short that he could flick or swing them to the on side boundary. There were no hoicks or heaves. It wasn't a slugfest out there. By the time he fell, Pollard had pushed West Indies towards a competitive total. With little bit of help from the Indian batsmen, who displayed poor shot selection, and a strong hand from Anthony Martin, the home side would win the day.

Rewind to the day before the third ODI. Pollard is asked a direct question. How hungry are you to play for West Indies? "I am very very very very hungry to do well for West Indies. I try my very best to do well for West Indies or any side that I play for." The ronin did it for West Indies today.

Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Michael on June 15, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    continuing !@Paddyrasta !Opposition 'B' team,is correct !and further reduced to an opposition'' C" team for the last ODI.,riverlime !Pollard scores his runs against those attacks.By the way,who are the players who can't show a first class av.of 40 or greater ? Simmons,Bravo ,Bravo,Pollard ,4 trinis in the first 6 or 7 batsman.K.Edwards I have been saying from the last T20 regional competition IS NOT a one day player,when he was playing for Bdos.Chanders reflexes have becomed too slow for one day cricket,and the selectors were right in not picking him.The point I am making is that of late ,TnT have been the main contributer of players on the WI team,and how have they performed,and by extension,the WI ?and now trinis are calling for D.Ganga av.less than 30 in 48 tests to lead the WI,and Ramdin,less than 23 in 41 tests to keep wicket .Lord have mercy ! look what WI cricket has come to!

  • Len on June 15, 2011, 22:35 GMT

    The analysis of the WIndies commentators regarding the performance of the WIndian batsmen, bowlers, fielding and attitude is non existent. By saying nothing, they are not only failing to educate WIndian supporters about the team, but it will also mean the WIndies cricket Board can continue to run WIndies cricket in their usual stupid way, because they know their will be no challenge from these commentators or WIndian cricket writers for that matter.

  • Finn on June 15, 2011, 16:27 GMT

    It was a sensible knock from Pollard and it showed what he can do if he gets his head down and plays properly. If he learns to dismiss all of his slogging urges then his average will jump up 15-20 in ODI's. He has time on his side as well.

  • VINEET on June 15, 2011, 8:53 GMT

    @AvidCricFan:Put yourself in Pathan's shoes...5 overs remaining you are sent to bat told to accelerate even before you can settle down then in the process you lose your wkt thats what had happened to him more often than not & Badri poor chap has done everything in domestic cricket which a batsman can do but was ignored & its all but fair to give that guy a chance to prove his worth......

  • joel on June 15, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    @Alexei... I see you are more articulate and reasoned than Metman, so I would rather exchange different points of view with you. As regards the knotty issue of keeper, BOTH Ramdin and Baugh have similar averages in ODI's (and Ramdin also has a higher Test average). But averages are not the reason for selecting a keeper! They should be good, nay, EXCELLENT, behind the stumps. They should also be pivotal in team decisions, as they have the best view of the action. My beef with Baugh is that too many times he has been quiet when a firm opinion was needed from a keeper. Case in point.... When Bishoo was bowling, several lbw's were denied(i'm talking about ones hawkeye shows would have hit), sometimes because of lack of appealing, and worse yet, sometimes because the review was not requested. Who knows if a ball is likely to hit the stumps? The keeper.

  • Alexei on June 15, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    i OBVIOUSLY SEE YOU two are biased and I agree with Metman... when was the last time Ramdin put two consecutive 30+ scores together which proved to be vital... If Baugh never stuck out there in those two innings Russell and Pollard might not have made as much as they did.. Partnerships might be crucial in cricket these days and he played his part in those partnerships which shud have won the game for WI in the 3rd ODI and won the game in the 4th ODI... Also to add to Metman's point, Ramdin has played 81 ODIs, 81!! And averages 19 -_- he has given positions of leadership which has not improved his attitude and performances.. Baugh's glovework should be commended as he isnt doing badly and as fas as I am concerned Ramdin dropped catches and conceded byes so whats your point? The Indian attack in the 3rd ODI was not the same as the one in the 4th...the former was clearly harder and was in a pressure situation so he should get credit and deserves to keep his place..

  • Dummy4 on June 15, 2011, 0:45 GMT

    Pollard needs to be more consistent.His shot selection was much better. As i said before once WI can put 250-260,we will put India under pressure or even beat them,as we did.However a key man in this effort will have to be SARS.He has to convert those fifties to eighties+.Sarwan is a good player but never a match winner and that is my problem with him. Sarwan is a good player of spin and should have had a century already. Next,did u see how the Indians play the short pitch bowling? Not convincing . W e played them on one pitch that helped our seamers and we thrashed them. We should have won the 3rd ODI, so i was not surprise when we won the 4thODI. That win was no fluke. Its about the pitches we prepare. Who knows!

  • charlie on June 14, 2011, 23:46 GMT

    I thought that Baugh did well this match and I hope he continues to in the future ,but I also think that West Indies should still bring back Ramadin in the group of players as an insurance keeper ,so that we don't suffer the same deficiency to injury ,in the wicket keeping department , as we did in the world cup . There seems to be a problem somewhere ,I wish someone would say . I also have a problem with the likes of Dwayne Smith being ignored by the West Indies board after the Australian tour ,for whatevr reason ,other than his performance on that tour . We need a guy like Dwayne Smith now with Simmons ,Russel and Pollard in the team . What a waste of his talents :- Best fielder, agressive batsman,bowler and keeper , not appreciated anymore . I hope the fans will someday see him in action again for the team ,in some format of the game .

  • Michael on June 14, 2011, 23:15 GMT

    @riverlime ! No! Baugh did not score his runs against the SAME weak bowling attack !He scored his runs with Patel and Harbhajan included.If that bowling was weak,an already weak bowling attack minus those two by simple logic(which sadly yu don"t seem to understand) would make the attack WEAKER !Ramdin in 42 tests has an av.of 22.80 and in 81ODIs averages 19.54......Baugh in only 10 tests scattered over a number of years averages 18.18,and in 41 ODIs 19.90...Baugh in only 6 ODIs innings the past month,averages MORE than Ramdin in his 81 ODIs.Where is yr LOGIC and what is the point ?because clearly Baugh is the BETTER batsman.Both have dropped catches,miss stump,failed to gather and conceeded byes during their careers,so what are yu getting at ?Furthermore Baugh has more first class centuries than Ramdin.,so who needs to take off those rose-tinted spectacles.I think yu and the other member of yr tag team should travel to Couva and reassure Mr.Ramdin that he is the best in the west.

  • Anit on June 14, 2011, 23:10 GMT

    When was the last ODI in which Yusuf Pathan had reasonable batting performance? He is one in ten matches wonder. He has played 55 ODIs and scored only five 50-plus scores. Badri is 30 years old. Can he be a long-term prospect? I don't understand why selectors are persisting with Pathan.

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