Early Bird: Looking back at T20WC24; where will Pooran be for 2026 tournament?

There can be no doubt that eventual winners India deserved to have the lion’s share of the places on the T20WC24 Team of the Year. With a twelfth man included, India’s six picks represent exactly half of the places.

But if we take away the capital letters and reference the team of the year, there is no doubt either that that is Afghanistan. Half to India and  exactly half of that deservedly to Afghanistan.

India captain Rohit Sharma (foreground) celebrates with his players during their ICC 2024 T20 World Cup semifinal contest against England at Providence, Guyana on 27 June 2024.
Photo: ICC/ Getty

Even if you have not seen the list, you know that Rohit Sharma and Jasprit Bumrah are certain to be on it. And it does not take you more than a very brief moment of reflection to add Suryakumar Yadav—what a catch!—and Hardik Pandya.

Another moment and you add Axar Patel, a consistent contributor with bat and/or ball, and Arshdeep Singh, whose 17-wicket haul was the joint highest tally in the tournament.

The three Afghans pick themselves. A fourth, dashing opener Ibrahim Zadran, is excluded only by the inevitable presence of Sharma and, perhaps, South Africa’s Quinton de Kock.

Rahmanullah Gurbaz, half of the opening pair that put on over 100 three times as well as a 50-plus partnership, slotted in at the top of the order. Fazalhaq Farooqi, the other bowler to claim 17 wickets, earned himself the second fast-bowling spot. And skipper Rashid Khan, who claimed 4/17 in the early upset of New Zealand and 14 wickets all told, is the spinner.

Afrghanistan spinner Rashid Khan.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

Of the three spots left, one went to Australia, consistent allrounder Marcus Stoinis claiming a middle-order batting slot. And South Africa pacer Anrich Nortje will use his speed to carry the drinks in record time, leaving one place unaccounted for.

“Who do you think gets the last spot?” I inquired of Bobby on Friday morning.

But he didn’t want to talk about cricket but about the Euros. After the West Indies’ Super Eight loss to England, he had criticized those who kept the faith and been more than reluctant to talk about the World Cup.

“[Desmond] Haynes and [Daren] Sammy and the rest of the selectors,” he’d repeated, “bring back de cat-o-nine-tails. But I am no glutton for punishment so…”

West Indies openers Johnson Charles (left) and Brandon King walk out in the middle during the 2024 T20 World Cup.
Photo: CWI Media

“Yuh see me, breds,” I responded to his opening salvo about how low the quality was in the European tournament, “spare mih dat, nah. I might watch France vs Portugal this evening but so far I ent watch a single match on TV. Not even highlights online.”

“Well, yuh not really missing much,” he shot back, steupsing loudly. “I watch—a half-a-match here, a quarter-match there; it not compelling.”

“By the way,” he said, his face lighting up, “it have this cricket story about the next T20 World Cup in India and Sri Lanka in 2026. It make mih think about football.”

West Indies cricket legend Brian Lara (left) takes a crack at goal during the BA Tobago Legends Football Challenge final.
Photo: Allan V Crane/ Wired868

He explained that, newcomers USA and overachievers Afghanistan excepted, 12 of the 20 teams are the usual suspects. Two qualified as hosts, seven others on the basis of reaching the Super Eight and Pakistan, New Zealand and Ireland through their top 12 ranking.

“It have room for eight more sides,” he said. “The really interesting thing is you would think it have some kina slow identity theft going on between FIFA and the ICC.

“Hear some ah de names ah de countries who could qualify: it have regular FIFA qualifiers Netherlands and occasional qualifiers Scotland. I see Germany and Italy, Denmark and Spain, Bahrain and Kuwait and Japan and Qatar.

Netherlands batsman Max O’Dowd.

“Buh the real surprise fuh me was Argentina and Panama.

“I not saying all dese football countries will qualify but all will be in qualifying. If they make it, it will be a FIFA T20 tournament!”

“Dat and God face, breds! Buh yuh ent answer my question. Who is the man who name I leave out from the Team of the Tournament?”

“Not a West Indian fuh sure,” he asserted.

West Indies players huddle before action during the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup.
Photo: CWI Media

“Wrong!”

“Akeal [Hosein]?”

“Nah. [Nicholas] Pooran.”

“Yuh lie.”

“Why?” I challenged him. “Yuh doh find he do enough?”

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran posted a sizzling 98 against Afghanistan on 17 June 2024.
Photo: ICC/ Getty

“Selling guns to the Indians? Well,” he chuckled, amused at his own joke, “to the English?”

“Well,” I responded, “according to the official release, in this tournament, Pooran ‘established his status as one of the best batters in the format (..) despite his high-risk batting.’

“His aggregate was 228, the sixth-highest, his strike rate nearly 150, not to be sneezed at. He make 98 run out against Afghanistan, the tournament high score. And his 17 sixes are one more than Chris Gayle’s 2016 record.”

“He coulda do, could do plenty more if the people in charge would get some sense.”

West Indies star Nicholas Pooran.

“Well, I don’t agree with you. You know that. But my concern is different. Pooran will be 30 in October, I think. I worry about how much longer he’ll continue to play for West Indies.”

“Why? Whey dat coming from.“

“I’m really not sure about his commitment to the West Indian cause. For three reasons.

“The first one is the way he batted throughout this tournament. I tell you already how Tino [Singh] bouff mih up fuh saying dat he wasn’t batting ‘properly’. Put it this way: I would like to see a more flexible approach.

West Indies batsman Nicholas Pooran goes after the bowling during his cameo against New Zealand in their ICC T20 World Cup contest at the Brian Lara Cricket Stadium in Tarouba, Trinidad on 12 June 2024.
Photo: Nicholas Bhajan/ Wired868

 

“Reason number two goes back to 2013 when he first burst onto the regional cricket scene with Guyana Amazon Warriors. You remember he made 54 off 24 balls but do you remember his post-match interview?”

“No.”

“I do. In the post-match interview, he said that his ambition was to get an IPL contract. He never once mentioned playing for the West Indies.”

“Hmmmm.”

Then West Indies captain Nicholas Pooran (right) and spinner Gudakesh Motie patrol the outfield during an ODI against India at the Queen’s Park Oval on 22 July 2022.
Photo: Daniel Prentice/ Wired868

“And then in 2022, he replaced Kieron Pollard as West Indies white ball captain and resigned after half a year.”

“That I remember.”

“Pooran makes all the right noises but public opinion  doesn’t bother him,” I said. “He’ll do what he deems best for Pooran. I think he’ll go the way of his fellow Trinis, Pollard and Sunil Narine.

“He’ll call early time on his West Indies career if the franchise options require it.”

Nicholas Pooran on the go in franchise cricket competition.

“We have to thank God,” Bobby said, sighing deeply, “there are never any leagues competing with the World Cup!”

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