In a move aimed at improving West Indies' standing in limited-overs cricket, Kieron Pollard has been appointed the captain of their white-ball teams with immediate effect. Pollard replaces Jason Holder as the ODI captain and Carlos Brathwaite in T20Is.
Pollard, 32, was recently recalled to the T20I squad in the home series against India, but has not played an ODI since 2016. However, West Indies' poor showing in the World Cup, where Holder's team won just two matches and finished ninth, led to Cricket West Indies setting up a task force to revamp the selection process, including recommending appointing a new white-ball captain.
Incidentally, the current CWI administration, led by Ricky Skerritt, had resuscitated Pollard's career, which seemed to have gone off the rails under the previous board administration led by Dave Cameron. The differences between Cameron's administration and some of the senior players, including Pollard and former West Indies captain Dwayne Bravo, formed part of a sorry chapter in West Indies cricket. The two players were not included in the 2015 World Cup and were kept out after that too, forcing Bravo to retire in 2017.
However, Skerritt encouraged the selectors to pick the right players and, accordingly, Pollard was named among the World Cup reserves, although he wasn't picked in the final squad.
"Pollard would have been a better choice. It's not that Carlos would not have been a member in the team then... I know Carlos is magnificent as an individual, he is a wonderful guy, highly competitive guy, he will not feel hurt in any way. A lot of guys know that Pollard would have been a great choice" Viv Richards
Pollard's appointment, which was approved by the CWI board of directors which met in Tobago over the last two days, was made public by Skerritt at a media briefing in Trinidad on Monday.
Later, in a media statement issued by CWI, Pollard said he was keen to lead West Indies and make the fans believe in the team again. "I'm truly honoured to be appointed captain of the West Indies and I would like to thank Cricket West Indies' board of directors for placing their faith and confidence in me," Pollard said. "I can't wait to work with the coaching staff and players as we start building towards future World Cups and give the fans more reasons to get behind the team."
Pollard's appointment was one of eight recommendations made by a selection task force, which said CWI needed to appoint a white-ball captain who would be part of the "medium- to long-term selection strategy". The CWI said the move was aimed at improving West Indies' position on the rankings table in limited-overs cricket.
"The election task force also recommended the immediate introduction of 'red ball' and 'white ball' captains to support a long-term strategy to focus on the different formats of international cricket. Kieron Pollard is being appointed 'white ball' captain for both the ODI and T20I teams with Jason Holder continuing as 'red ball' captain for the Test team as CWI seeks to see an improvement in performances and therefore ICC World Rankings as part of the long-term development strategy."
The task force was made up of CWI vice-president Kishore Shallow, CWI director of cricket Jimmy Adams, CWI director and also head of CWI's cricket committee Enoch Lewis, former West Indies player and national cricket selector to St Vincent and the Grenadines Cricket Association and technical adviser for the Windward Islands Cricket Board Miles Bascombe, and former players, Ramnaresh Sarwan and Philo Wallace.
During a media briefing, Skerritt said CWI was following the "best possible practices for best possible outcomes". Praising Pollard, Skerritt said the allrounder was the right man for job because of "his keenness and commitment to give back to the game".
Skerritt pointed out that he had kept Holder in the loop about the reshuffle and told him he would continue to be a vital cog, including retaining the Test captaincy. "Jason Holder was called by me yesterday morning and we spoke," Skerritt said while sitting next to Pollard and other CWI officials. "He [Holder] is a very important force and is still going to be our red-ball captain. Holder will now compete for a place in Pollard's team and use this as an opportunity to become a better cricketer. Pollard is the right man at the right time to take our white-ball teams forward."
Pollard last played an ODI in October 2016 but he has been a part of the T20I side recently. In the three T20Is against India, he scored 58, 8* and 49 to finish as the leading run-scorer in the series. Incidentally, he did not bowl in that series, something he has done in the ongoing CPL where he is the captain of his home team Trinbago Knight Riders.
Pollard's elevation is bound to raise a few eyebrows, but he has his backers too. Among them is Viv Richards, who recently said Pollard was the right man for the limited-overs captaincy.
Talking to the Telegraph (India) Richards said he supported the split captaincy for West Indies with Pollard being one of the leaders. "Judging from what I have seen, Kieron Pollard would have been the best choice as our T20 captain and there are reasons for that. During CPL (in the previous seasons), he was the best with the bat," Richards said. "Also why I think this may be because a lot of captains were introduced at that time. There were also problems between the board and the players, no disrespect to Carlos Brathwaite but because of those politics, he has fast fallen in captaincy.
"Pollard would have been a better choice. It's not that Carlos would not have been a member in the team then... I know Carlos is magnificent as an individual, he is a wonderful guy, highly competitive guy, he will not feel hurt in any way. A lot of guys know that Pollard would have been a great choice."
It was last year that Pollard returned to the T20I West Indies side after more than a year's gap as the board wanted to try out some high-profile players before the World Cup. Pollard and a few other players had fallen out with the board earlier for various reasons, the primary one being the clash between playing domestic cricket and overseas T20 leagues.
Less than two months after the end of the World Cup, Pollard will now lead West Indies in two formats. His first assignment as captain will be against Afghanistan in November in India where they will play three T20Is and three ODIs before a one-off Test.