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Lawrence: WI have ability to move from ‘decent’ to ‘dangerous’; but is Pollard standing in the way?

“[…] I ask the question… where is the real Kieron Pollard? Where’s the ultra-aggressive and controversial leader who constantly gets under the skin of opposing players?

“Where’s the tactically sound, charismatic Kieron Pollard who demands maximum effort on the field of play from his players? Where’s the captain who takes the lead with bat and ball and boldly confronts his opponents? […]”

Former Trinidad and Tobago and Queen’s Park Cricket Club allrounder Andre Lawrence muses over the missing element that might turn the West Indies from a ‘decent team into a very dangerous one’:

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard gestures during their first ODI match against Sri Lanka in Colombo on 22 February 2020.
(Copyright AP Photo/ Eranga Jayawardena)

After watching rapper Eminem perform at the Super Bowl half-time show last week, then the WI white ball tour of India, I’m now moved to saying: will the real Kieron Pollard, please stand up, please stand up, please stand up.

My eyes are always on every change in WI cricket. I’ve lived long enough to watch different eras evolve and I’ve been privileged to play a very small role in some of its history.

Rewind to two years ago, when we had a new one. Rightfully, a new CWI administration had recently been voted in. Rightfully, Jason Holder’s time as captain was forcibly curtailed. Rightfully, new coaches took charge under the leadership of Phil Simmons, and, rightfully, Kraigg Brathwaite was appointed Test captain, along with the most winning captain in the region, Kieron Pollard, as the white ball captain.

My mind tells me that CWI must look hard and long at the possibility of more changes.

Photo: Kieron Pollard (left) and Jason Holder, the current and former West Indies white ball captain respectively, share a congratulatory moment during the 2022 Betway T20I Series against England.
(via CWI Media)

On the Brathwaite captaincy, the jury is still out. But as white ball cricket is played more often and the teams are taking shape in preparation for the 2022 World Cup in Australia, this might be a great time to make a serious assessment.

Following the disastrous WI performance in the 2021 T20 World Cup, there’s been quite an expected fall-out. Even before the World Cup campaign began, I said that we’re about to witness the end of an era for players like Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Ravi Rampaul and Andre Russell. They’re all gone—or seem to be.

Enter some great new talent in Dominic Drakes, Rovman Powell, Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith. Add that quartet to a squad that includes the passionate vice-captain Nicholas Pooran, Fabian Allen, Roston Chase, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein and Brandon King and you’re looking at a team that has tremendous potential.

However, in my view, there is one element missing in all of this: the captain I once knew.

Photo: Sri Lanka ace Danushka Gunathilaka was controversially given out for 55 after West Indies captain Kieron Pollard appealed for obstruction of the field.

I ask the question… where is the real Kieron Pollard? Where’s the ultra-aggressive and controversial leader who constantly gets under the skin of opposing players?

Where’s the tactically sound, charismatic Kieron Pollard who demands maximum effort on the field of play from his players? Where’s the captain who takes the lead with bat and ball and boldly confronts his opponents?

The absence of this old Pollard and the lack of quality bowling are the missing links needed to convert this decent team into a very dangerous one.

It goes without saying that I have watched quite a few matches, listened to the views of professional commentators and the opinions of the coaches and captain in pre- and post-match interviews.

Respectfully, I disagree with their position. I believe the current formula is wrong. Since Carlos Brathwaite slogged WI to World Cup fame in 2016, we’ve only focused on the development of hitters. Where are our bowlers?

Photo: West Indies bowling allrounder Odean Smith prepares to send down another cannonball.

Unfortunately, they all come across as weak at times; team officials repeat the same old story every single time: it’s a work in progress; we’re rebuilding.

Poppycock!

Rebuilding is NOT an excuse for not winning. If there’s enough talent around, there should be at the very least consistent, highly competitive performances. Instead, we’re teased with sporadic moments of brilliance amidst extreme volatility. The US Stock Exchange is more predictable.

To our current white ball captain, I want to say that it’s okay to lose when you’re rebuilding and giving it your all. But it is not okay to lose consistently and keep using the fact that you’re rebuilding as an excuse.

It’s not okay to be one of our main batsmen and leader and batting inexplicably at number 9; that’s just not okay.

Photo: West Indies limited overs captain Kieron Pollard sways out of the way of a short-pitched delivery.
(via CWI Media)

It’s not okay to seemingly sit back and watch the newbies attempt to do it on their own. It’s not okay to lose 0-6 to India when there were clear chances to pull off a few wins. It’s definitely not okay to lose to Ireland at home.

I haven’t forgotten; it still hurts.

A true leader, the Kieron Pollard I once knew, fearlessly grabbed the opposition by the scruff of the neck and, head-on, tried to drag his team across the line.

If you look closely at Nicholas Pooran, you see not only his recent good form but that he’s the most animated and vociferous player on the field. He’s constantly encouraging his bowlers and fielders, and he’s giving it his all with the bat. Here is a man that wants desperately to win and he needs someone to help him to learn how to do so.

The current captain must step up. If the passion, the burning desire is no longer there, then, it’s time to move on.

Photo: West Indies captain Kieron Pollard keeps a poker face, determined not to give anything away..
(Copyright AP)

I believe that it’s time for WI cricket to grow once more. But we need all hands on deck. There’s no time to waste.

That message has to be sent.

In the strongest manner possible.

 

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About Andre Lawrence

Andre Lawrence
Andre Lawrence played for Trinidad and Tobago, QPCC and CIC, where he also was captain, and had a stint playing in the leagues in England. 

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  1. First, let me say that Shimron Hetmyer should be in the Test team and I am disappointed with his attitude and level of fitness.
    I think captain Pollard appears to have lost the will to fight and should step down.
    When the WI selectors did not make Pollard a Test cricketer, that was a big mistake
    The coaches cannot get the players to correct their mistakes so you have to get rid of either the coach or the player.
    It appears that players depend on the coaches to correct their mistakes and do not take on their own the responsibility for correcting them.
    They need to be told what is professionalism, discipline and self -motivation.
    A coach should be a GOOD teacher
    Stay safe. And rally round the West Indies.