Kieron Pollard: ‘I have no intentions of not playing international cricket’

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West Indies captain keen to continue despite struggling during failed title defence

West Indies’ white-ball captain Kieron Pollard has insisted that he has no intentions of retiring from international cricket after his side were knocked out of contention for the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup. Pollard was among the West Indies seniors who had struggled to adapt to the UAE conditions; he managed only 46 runs in four innings at a strike rate of under 87. West Indies, who entered the competition as the defending champions, suffered a premature exit when they lost to an already knocked-out Sri Lanka team by 20 runs.

“Well, personally… I don’t set personal goals for personal glory. I play cricket to win cricket matches each and every time,” Pollard said at the post-match press conference. “We came to the World Cup to win and we haven’t done that. Unless you’re part of decisions that are going to get rid of me or fire me or retire me, as I stand right now, I have no intentions of not playing international cricket. One tournament or a couple of bad games don’t make a summer. And for me personally, there’s a lot of mileage in my legs as an individual.

“There are people in different scenarios who make decisions and when it comes to that [captaincy] question, I can’t make that decision… but again we have a tendency as things go badly, the easiest thing is to blame or chop and change and do different things. But we accept that. I accept that and I take it on the chin and sometimes you have to absorb the pressure before you apply [it]. But personally as an individual I’ve played a lot of good cricket in the last 18 months or two years or so. So, three-four games [are] not going to deter Kieron Pollard.”

Pollard rued West Indies’ “sloppy” performance in the field, exploited by an inexperienced yet talented Sri Lanka sid to put up an above-par total of 189 for 3. In response, West Indies lost Chris Gayle, Evin Lewis and Roston Chase in the powerplay. Despite counterattacking innings from vice-captain Nicholas Pooran and Shimron Hetmyer, the rapidly rising asking rate was too much to overcome for West Indies.

‘It was a good batting track,” Pollard said. “If we had sort of restricted them to 170-175, I thought that was about par on this track; [we] gave them a couple of extra runs, and then we weren’t able to sort of finish off the innings. The batting has struggled throughout the entire tournament, and it has been disappointing. Obviously, we’ve been singing the same song over and over and it’s something that hasn’t helped us – the way that we’ve batted throughout the tournament. We just have to accept that we weren’t good enough.”

Pooran, who was bumped up to No. 3 after batting at No. 7 against Bangladesh, made the early running in the powerplay, claiming 32 of the 52 runs West Indies scored in the first six overs. While Dushmantha Chameera tricked him with a cutter for 46, Hetmyer pressed on to hit an unbeaten 81 off 54 balls. Pollard identified the two batters as a key part of West Indies’ T20 future but challenged them to produce such performances more often.

“I think that [the progress of Pooran and Hetmyer] is very, very important,” Pollard said. “Nicholas getting the opportunity to bat up the order. Last game, he was full of confidence, and we just decided to sort of ride on that confidence and just try something different. I think he gave us a good start in the powerplay and after the powerplay. Obviously, he wasn’t able to carry on, but that is a positive sign for us in the right direction.

“And then Hetmyer – this is what we know Shimron can do. He comes in and manoeuvres the ball at the start. He’s a powerful individual and if we can get these sort of performances from these guys consistently, I think it will augur well for us in the future. But it’s not just the glimpse, the task is to do that on a consistent basis. The glimpse is good enough and it’s something we definitely look at going forward.”

In order to unearth new talents, Pollard reckoned that West Indies should bring back the regional T20 tournament, in addition to the franchise-based CPL, to expand the pool of players.

“I think it’s something that we have to look at. I think it’s something that has plagued us over a period of time for the last ten years or so, we’ve had sort of the same guys playing T20 and dominating as we go along,” he said. “One of the things we need to do is, especially in the Caribbean, we need to have another tournament other than CPL where we can unearth new talents. When we had the Caribbean T20, that was an opportunity to bring you talent from different parts of the Caribbean to be able to have the nucleus for this last generation or so… Since CPL has come in, yes it’s a franchise-based system, but we’ve only had the opportunity to recycle the same players over and over again.

“So, it’s something that we need to look at but there are some cricketers and a lot of young cricketers looking forward to playing and contributing to West Indies cricket. And it’s something that I’m personally excited about. It’s the end of a generation, but there needs to be a lot of conversation that needs to take place on how you’re going to make the transformation from club cricket or even CPL to international cricket because there’s a big step-up. So in between, we need to have another tournament if you look around the world, there are different tournaments that different teams play so that they can unearth new talents.”

Deivarayan Muthu is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

(With Inputs from ESPN)

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