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Open letter to Kieron Pollard: Ask not what WI can do for you…

Dear Kieron,

Wherever you happen to be in the world, you would not have failed to watch the First Test action between Kraigg Brathwaite’s side and Bangladesh in Chattogram; my instincts tell me that. And that, along with so many of us, you steupsed loudly after Day Three when West Indies went from 253 for five to 259 all out in the space of just 22 balls.

So we are left with a Day Five Everest to climb and not a Sherpa in sight.

Photo: Bangladesh cricketers celebrate the wicket of West Indies batsman Jermaine Blackwood on Day 3 of the 1st Test in Bangladesh.

“Blasted irresponsible!” I imagine you hissing through gritted teeth. “Dat not happening on my watch!”

And wherever you happen to be in the world, you would not have failed to read Noel Kalicharan’s Letter to the Editor in last Sunday’s Express. But you refuse to dignify it with a public response. Not now anyway. Your preference has always been to let the bat or the ball in your hand do the talking.

I feel Kalicharan’s charge is completely unfair and I am willing to take up your fire-rage. You can thank me later by making sure to accept the Test captaincy when it is offered to you. I hear rumblings about resistance to the promotion so…

With a population of ten million and 820 Covid-19 deaths, Kalicharan writes, deaths per 100,000 in the United Arab Emirates is 8.2, nearly twice as much as in Bangladesh.

So tell me, ODI captain Kieron Pollard, if you had no problem abandoning your team in Bangladesh for fear of Covid-19, how come you choose to captain the Deccan Gladiators in the UAE T10 League where the death rate from Covid-19 is almost twice as high?

Did you think 8.2 was ‘safer’ than 4.9? Or did the higher bid win? 

Photo: Dr Noel Kalicharan.
(via EBCCTT)

Kalicharan, who has already published several books, may well have another one in the making. Let’s assume, therefore, that he has an attractive offer for it from Charran Publishing House, the locals from whom scores of schoolbooks have come over the years. The offer guarantees that the company will publish anything he has to offer them for the next ten years.

Along comes Crown, publishers of Barack Obama’s A Promised Land and Michelle Obama’s Becoming, with an offer to publish the new work. They offer no guarantees about any future publications but the financial terms for the text concerned are significantly more attractive than the ones in the Charran’s contract. 

Would Kalicharan decide that the guarantees are safer and stay with Charran’s? Or would the higher bid win? 

I know my answer. What’s yours?

And more to the point, what’s his?

Anyway, returning to the captaincy issue, I am 99.9% certain that the decision to make you the WI short-format skipper was 99.9% correct.

Photo: West Indies cricket star Kieron Pollard.
(via Reuters)

And I can’t wait to see you made the regional all-formats captain. I can think of no arguments against it—except your own reputed reluctance to accept the promotion.

I think it is worth noting that, ranked at #5 in both Tests and ODIs, South Africa have just announced a change. Asked to act as Test captain for the 2020-21 summer until a permanent candidate could be found, Quinton de Kock will not continue in the position after the end of the current series against Pakistan. 

Coach Mark Boucher said it’s important to ‘release him from that burden’ of leading all three sides in the international arena.

“If you’re not scoring runs, it gets highlighted,” he explained, “especially if you’re a captain.” 

Of the other 13 captains currently in top-ten international Test and ODI cricket, only Australia’s Tim Paine has the ‘extra burden’ of also being a wicketkeeper. As did Pakistan’s Mohammad Rizwan, who temporarily inherited the Test reins in New Zealand last year in the absence of the injured Babar Azam. 

Photo: Pakistan captain Babar Azam.

Azam, as you know, is one of five current all-formats captains of the nine Test-playing countries. Only four non-conformists have different captains in Tests and ODIs: England, (ranked #1 in ODIs and #4 in Tests), Australia (#4 & #3), Bangladesh (#7 & #9) and WI (#9 & #8).

Among your fraternity of 14, England’s Test captain Joe Root and Australia’s Aaron Finch, both top-order batsmen, occasionally also get bowling assignments. But you and the current WI Test captain are the only ones consistently tagged all-rounders. 

So if, as some are suggesting, you’re hesitating to commit, I know it’s because, for an all-rounder, captaining three international teams is no piece of cake. And whereas all the other skippers are dealing with players from one country, that’s not the case with WI, where insularity remains alive and well. 

You certainly have not forgotten your first-hand experience as Barbados Tridents captain. 

So broad as your shoulders are, you’re not sure they’re that broad. That’s cool; we can live with that. 

Photo: West Indies all-rounder and limited overs captain Kieron Pollard.

There’s an alternative, though.

Ask any West Indian fan if (s)he would prefer to beat Root’s Test side or Eoin Morgan’s white ball side consistently. I’ve conducted no poll but I trust my instincts; every fan, certainly the more mature ones, will give you the same answer. 

We have two decades of treasured Test memories from the days of the same legends whom the soon-to-be-former WI Test captain waded into the other day. 

You didn’t attack the legends; you aimed higher. You told the Board that you don’t plan to leave your wife at home the next time CWI sends you on tour. 

So how hard can it be for you to tell lead selector Roger Harper that you’ll take the Test job on one condition: that, in consultation with your current squad of white ball players, you get to recommend the candidate who inherits the short-format captaincy job. 

I don’t remember anything being explicitly said about genuine player power in the Wehby Report. 

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard (centre) celebrates with his teammates after the dismissal of India’s Rishabh Pant during the third T20 match against India in Mumbai on 11 December 2019.
(Copyright AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

But you might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb. 

And I really don’t think that would be too much for president Skerritt and his deputy to swallow.

Sincerely,

About Earl Best

Earl Best
Earl Best taught cricket, French, football and Spanish at QRC for many years and has written consistently for the Tapia and the Trinidad and Tobago Review since the 1970's. He is also a former sports editor at the Trinidad Guardian and the Trinidad Express and is now a senior lecturer in Journalism at COSTAATT.

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2 comments

  1. I can agree with most of this “letter” aside from the false equivalency paid to Kallicharan and his post cricket career as an author. Kallicharan made a statement we as West Indies cricket fans would have mulled over when we turned on our TV to see our captain playing cricket in the lucrative T10 Abu Dhabi tournament. But Pollard has made his decision and we the modern day fans can understand it. I have followed a similar controversy with the the Indian team’s captain Kohli who departed the tour of Australia immediately after India worst showing to attend to his wife and the birth of his child. I cite this example because it is apparent to me that the values of the modern day cricketer differs from that of legends of the game; on the Kohli issue, Sunil Gavaskar stated that faced with a similar situation he toured the West Indies leaving his pregnant wife in India to give birth. So don’t disrespect or disparage the ilk of the yester-year cricketer, their commitment to the game was viewed thru a lens that’s different from the modern day cricketer. So as a modern day fan, who appreciate professional sports and professional sport men who make decisions to ensure their ability to ascend the mighty auction rounds, I do understand the decisions that have to be taken. Whether it was Pollard or Jason Holder.
    As I am ranting, There is another misnoma that we peddle regarding West Indian islands and insularity regarding the selection of players, as if this is peculiar to the west indies team alone. It disregards the superior geographical, demographic numbers of every test playing nation. Indian with 3 billion people, numerous states, religions, languages and hundreds of thousands of cricketing schools must be faced with similar cries of insularity when players are chosen for a test team. Similarly Australia (and Tasmanian cricketers), South Africa, England and their very public rows over selection of players from their county teams. So we are not unique in that regard and any captain worth his salt will be able to deal with this.
    Oh and by the way, the improbable has happened and I celebrate this victory with gusto (not knowing what the next test will bring) but certain I’m a fan of West indies cricket forever. Congratulations Kraigg Braithwaite and Team.

    • Earl Best

      You say you are ranting and I find it hard to disagree. I read and re-read your comment and I remain unclear about where you stand on several issues you discuss.

      Not an iota of disagreement, however, on the last paragraph. We are 100% on the same page there.

      A friend of mine credits Clive Lloyd and his pre-tour letter to the team (about which I raised questions) for the sterling performance and the levelheadedness we saw on display in the second innings. My question to him is this: we went from 253 for 5 to 259 all out in the space of 20-odd balls in our first turn at the crease. Did the second half of the line-up only read the letter between the two innings?

      And if we had been 10 runs short instead of three when Da Silva ent, you feel brave enough to guarantee a WI win?

      Have a view you care to share on both questions?