Kieron Pollard might be a Trinbagonian but he’s not a Knight Rider. So the thousands of glad, largely red-clad fans who filled the house at the Queen’s Park Oval last night did not come to see any effortless straight-back-over-your-head shots from the Barbados Tridents’ captain.
Outside the Oval, I ran into the ever-popular “Duck Man” from Diego Martin. He was minus his unmistakeable yellow suit and he confessed to me sheepishly that he “wouldn’t be able to blight any of the Tridents batsmen tonight.”
Shucks! Things definitely not looking good!
But that changed.
“TKR is not a bobolee team like the rest of them,” one fan assured me gleefully as we made our way into the Oval. “Pollard going for ten or twelve runs tonight.”
I wondered if she had already read the match report on Wired868 more than an hour before the start of the game.
“Polly going for less than ten runs,” another spectator, a man this time, clad in a Manchester United tee-shirt told me as he made his way towards the Carib Stand.
The hard-hitting Pollard had cracked two blistering half-centuries against the Jamaica Tallawahs and the St Lucia Stars. But I thought that if this guy is so good at picking football teams to support, he can’t be so bad at making predictions; he might not be so far off the mark.
The power of positive thinking. Or of Trini goat mouth! The same Polly who beating ball like a six bass since the season start had an unusually long stay at the crease but could only muster 14 runs.
Just before the first ball is bowled, I make my way into the Republic Bank Stand and a firewoman asks me–twice!–to clear the aisle and find a seat.
Yes, she was kind, eh. I was sure I was going to get loud up the second time.
Behind me, a guy spills his beer as he celebrates the fall of the second Tridents wicket, Wayne Parnell, caught Brendon Mc Cullum, bowled Ronsford Beaton. If TKR win the game in a canter, I might get a beer bath by the end of the night.
“Youth man, it’s Stag, a man’s beer. Yuh safe.”
“Eh eh! I now realize the new fellah ent playing,” one of my neighbours comments, carefully counting the TKR players on the field. “The shithound deh bring een fuh Amla.”
“At least he could field,” came the unexpected response..
“Khary Pierre could field,” a female spectator snorted. “That Frylinck fellah cyah do nutten!”
The venom has gone from that same female’s voice when Pakistani mystery spinner Shadab Khan steps up to bowl the eighth over; the teenager receives rapturous cheers but Ms Anti-Frylinck is on her best groupie behaviour. Throughout the over.
I wonder if she knows that the Pakistan Cricket Board has reportedly instructed Shadab and his countrymen to return home by 22 August.
A cricket-crazy mate has got the memo but the prospect of a Shadab-less TKR doesn’t other him.
“Shadab in his early career is definitely a gem,” he launches into his sermon. “But if TKR loses him, someone will just have to step in as the additional bowler.
“Searles hasn’t bowled yet (he’s wrong about that!) so I expect him to fill a slot as a bowler and we will go for Perkins to strengthen the batting.”
I was tempted to ask whether he didn’t prefer Frylinck to Perkins but just then Shadab broke the stubborn third-wicket partnership, getting Kane Williamson to miscue a slog sweep and give Narine an easy catch at short third man. We got distracted and the moment passed.
Another friend I met near Jeffrey Stollmeyer later strongly disagreed with him, though,
“Oh goouud!” he exclaimed, running his fingers through his hair. “Shadab? That will be a big loss for TKR.”
And Ducky or no Ducky, blight or no blight, the whole Republic Stand was sure TKR going to win when DJ Bravo took a smart running catch to dismiss Pakistani top-order batsman Shoaib Malik off the bowling of Guyanese quick Ronsford Beaton.
The Carib Girls too spread their hands and leggo. Mamayo!
“Where this Beaton guy from?” the guy who spilled the beer on me asked.
When I told him Beaton was from Guyana, he wondered out loud why the lanky pacer was yet to make the West Indies team.
“Simple!” a complete stranger offered. “Because he not a Bajan!”
Shadab cut that ole talk short, pouncing on a ball at backward point and sending the crowd into a frenzy with a Jonty Rhodes-like direct hit with only one and a half stumps to aim at.
I thought Ms Anti-Frylinck woulda never stop screaming.
Fortunately for our ears, a young man whose attire left no doubt about which team he was supporting changed the screams to laughter.
“Pollard,” he asked, “yuh wukking PH or what? Wha yuh doing with all dem singles?”
Tridents lower-order batsman Akeal Hosein, another Trini in Tridents clothing, was not dealing in singles, though. He dispatched Bravo for two sweet sixes off successive balls in the final over.
But the “Champion” singer got his revenge off the next ball, having him caught at long-on by Javon Searles. And he yorked Polly off the final ball as a lagniappe.
Republic Bank Stand was oozing confidence.
“Only 153 to win?” an excited fan asked. “We licking dem up tonight, mon.”
“Tonight, tonight, Narine will come good,” a lady in a Kolkata Knight Riders jersey with the off-spinner’s name plastered on it of course declared.
One loud man went further, declaring that TKR were certain to be “the 2017 champions, the Heroes of the Hero CPL.”
“Is win, win, win; we going to win the whole tournament,” he announced for the whole stand to hear. “It have challengers but only one champion, TKR.”
Even louder cheers, cut short by Bravo’s dismissal. Still 13 runs short. Hmmmmm; this could still be interesting.
Playing Devil’s Advocate, I asked how many people planned to make the journey to the Brian Lara Stadium in Tarouba for the knockout stages if TKR qualify.
“If TKR qualify?” about a dozen people asked in unison.
“What the ass wrong with you? Yuh deaf or what?” This from Mr Loudmouth. “Ah telling yuh TKR have the strongest team and we winning the tournament.”
“Personally, I don’t like the Brian Lara Cricket Academy (BLCA) for many reasons,” the woman sitting next to Mr Beer said. “I think the Oval atmosphere is the most vibrant sport venue I’ve been to.
“And then there’s the traffic jam. When we went down South for the Lara opening, I spent hours, hours in traffic. One road in, one road out.
“Once they can sort out those traffic problems, maybe…”
“Maybe my foot!” Mr Loudmouth cut her short. “When TKR make it to the finals, traffic or no traffic, all ah allyuh going down South and fulling up the Stadium.”
“We doing it,” he concluded just as Narine’s match-winning innings ended with his score on 79 and the ball in Parnell’s safe hands, “fuh de Prince.”