Monday, Dec 05, 2022

IND Vs WI: Kieron Pollard Sings In Praise Of Caribbean Unity, Wants West Indies To Be Rock Solid In India

IND Vs WI: Kieron Pollard Sings In Praise Of Caribbean Unity, Wants West Indies To Be Rock Solid In India

On the back of a series win against England at home, West Indies arrive in India for a limited-overs series.

West Indies will play a limited-overs series in India starting February 6.
West Indies will play a limited-overs series in India starting February 6. Photo: West Indies Cricket

Kieron Pollard is "the first captain in history to start his post-match interview with a song," claimed West Indies Cricket in an official social media post after the Caribbeans carved out a thrilling 17-run win against visiting England in the series-deciding fifth T20 at Kensington Oval, Bridgetown early Monday morning. (More Cricket News)

In the said prelude Trinidadian Kieron Pollard sang, "They can't keep a good man down... Always keep a smile when they want me to frown," the run-on couplet from Jamaican reggae superstar Sizzla Kalonji's very inspiring "Solid As A Rock".

The limited-overs series win against England was significant for West Indies in many ways. While it reinforced the belief that the West Indians can win on their day, the victory was important for a team where unity and team feeling is often hurt by divisive forces.

Pollard's song was aimed at those divisive forces that deliberately generate ill feelings among team members and performance suffers. So, the skipper wants his men to be good on the park and keep the frown away.

Windies, collectively, represent a team of nations and territories in the Caribbean. Picking the squad and fielding team have always been a tricky affair with each member/ associate having its own dreams and aspirations.

Leading such a team will always demand much more than man-management and cricketing skills. West Indian captains also need to be ambassadors of the game, with a bit of diplomatic skills.

Windies are scheduled to reach India on February 2.

How much West Indies can take forward their winning momentum forward in the upcoming series in India remains to be seen. Windies play India in a limited-overs series comprising three ODIs in Ahmedabad and as many T20s in Kolkata, starting February 6.

So to say, it will be Kieron Pollard's next challenge as the West Indies have so far failed to impress against India in India despite a majority of their stars having a strong presence in the country, thanks to stints in the IPL.

In the previous seven fixtures, they have won only twice. Overall, they have defeated India six times in 17 meetings, with one no result. For a team brimming with talent, these stats reflect rather poorly.

West Indies have already announced both their squads, naming the same 16 that took on England for the T20s, and 11 of those -- Pollard, Fabian Allen, Darren Bravo, Holder, Shai Hope, Hosein, King, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd, Smith and Hayden Walsh Jr -- featuring in the ODI squad too.

Pollard, 34, surely was in some mood after the England series win. After all, it was a hard-fought victory against the top-ranked T20 International team in the world and that too after their shocking ODI series defeat to Ireland, played at Kingston, Jamaica.

Also, the team was/is dealing with bad press, with a section of Caribbean media claiming that there's a rift. It apparently started after Odean Smith was benched, in favour of the Rovman Powell, for the third match against England. It was so damning that the Cricket West Indies was forced to issue a denial.

Kieron Pollard, however, wasn't the one to take it lying down, and his little act after the series win against England wasn't a celebrity song and dance routine. He looked determined and used the mic to good effect, sending a message to the detractors.

Here's what he said: "It's wonderful, many have given up on this team, but every single individual has rallied around, there have been a lot of negative things written about us, but this win is for everyone out in the dressing room. They have worked tirelessly coming from Jamaica, and have bounced back pretty well."

Reports have claimed that there is a rift between the skipper and Odean Smith, and the Jamaican is being 'victimised' by the cricket board.

Terming it as a "malicious attack on the credibility of the West Indies captain," CWI president Ricky Skerritt said that "this clear attempt by well-known mischief-makers to discredit the captain and to derail the team's momentum in the ongoing T20I series (vs) should not be tolerated or encouraged."

West Indies head coach Phil Simmons also reacted strongly.

The former Windies all-rounder said, "For me, that (victimisation) can't happen when I'm here... You don't victimise anyone. You don't try to pull down anyone. You try to make players a better person first of all, and a better cricketer afterwards.

"In my coaching career and even in my playing career, you look to help the man next to you. And that's one thing I've been preaching in this team, and in all the teams that I've dealt with. So, there is no such thing as victimisation here and there will be none as long as I'm around."

For the record, in the fifth and final T20I, Odean returned to the playing XI of the series decider and Pollard handed the 25-year-old right-arm pacer the 18th over when England still needed 48 to win.

As it turned out, the right-arm pacer conceded 20 runs before former captain Jason Holder sealed the series with a stunning four wickets in four deliveries in the final over.

After winning the toss, Windies set a target of 180 runs with Pollard (41 off 25) and Powell (35 off 17) giving the late impetus. Then, Akeal Hosein struck in the very first over, before completing his spell for figures of 4/30.

"Akeal at the start and spinners in the middle. I thought Brandon (King) had a great series, you can't keep Holder out of the game, Akeal was good and so was Odean, despite what has been written about him. His three overs at the top was crucial - as I said before, was a complete team effort," Pollard added.

Pollard's post-match statement will surely help douse the internal strife controversy, but Windies, once a world-conquering side, remain a team in dire need of wins and wins. One series will not be enough to keep the critics quiet.


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