Sports

Not in my team!

No insularity under my watch, assures Pollard

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

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PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — Newly appointed West Indies white-ball Captain Kieron Pollard has reassured the region that insularity in selection will be eradicated during his tenure.

The Trinidadian will oversee his first assignment next month when West Indies take on Afghanistan in India in three Twenty20 Internationals and three One-Day Internationals.

And after participating in his first selection meeting, Pollard said he was focused on ensuring that performance and not nationality would determine the composition of teams going forward.

“One of the major things we [selectors] talked about is the insularity that has been going on in the Caribbean, and it is something we want to [stamp out],” Pollard said here in a wide-ranging radio interview.

“At the end of the day, it doesn't matter where you're from, which part of the islands you're from — once your performance is there, once you fit into the dynamics of the team, [once] you fit into what we're looking for, you're going to be selected.

“[The fact] that sometimes you veer to where you're from is unfortunate, maybe as a home captain or coach, but at the end of the day we will try to pick the best team.

“Me, knowing myself and how I go about things — and this is something I've been preaching since the franchise system started in the Caribbean T20 before the CPL — the bigger picture is the cricket, and whichever persons are doing well, they're going to be selected.”

He continued: “I have it in myself, in terms of my principles and high sort of integrity, to always go out and pick the best players, no matter what part of the islands they're from.

“No matter what happens, people are going to talk — you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. But once I can lie down in my bed and sleep comfortable at nights, that would be most comforting to me.”

Pollard has replaced Jason Holder as one-day skipper and Carlos Brathwaite as T20 captain, and takes over a side struggling in both formats.

Currently, West Indies are ranked number nine in the 50-overs version following on from their disastrous World Cup showing earlier this year in England, and are also ninth in T20s even though they are reigning World champions.

Pollard conceded that helping the Windies improve their fortunes would be a challenging task but that he was ready for the pressure associated with the captaincy.

“It's international cricket; the people are crying out for success, they are crying out for wins, and it's expected pressure is always going to be there,” he pointed out.

“If there's no pressure then it doesn't make sense, and we as individuals sometimes tend to perform better when our backs are against the wall. We've been struggling — it's no secret — but it's something hopefully with the new coach [Phil Simmons], myself, some new players we can try to change going forward.

“So I'm looking forward to embracing that pressure, still coming out with a smile, but most importantly — every time you step on that cricket field, you give a hundred per cent and try to improve as individuals.”

Pollard is one of the most experienced T20 cricketers around, having played nearly 500 matches overall, but has no extensive captaincy experience at the international level.

He led Barbados Tridents in the Caribbean Premier League for five years before moving on to skipper St Lucia Zouks in 2017, and this year took charge of his native Trinbago Knight Riders after Dwayne Bravo was ruled out with injury.

The 32-year-old said he intended to bring his now-familiar aggressive captaincy approach to his new role.

“I just try to be ahead of the game — I try to out-think the opposition, think of what they're going to do before it actually happens,” he noted.

“I'm aggressive but sometimes my aggression is mistaken for arrogance, which is expected because everybody has an opinion. But at the end of the day, a willpower to win is something that's embedded in me, so it's something that comes out when I'm leading a team and trying to get the team over the line.

“Sometimes I can be very calm and collected and you wouldn't know what's going on [with me].”


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