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Why dropping Kieron Pollard might hurt the West Indies

Debdoot Das
953   //    31 Oct 2016, 15:58 IST
DURBAN, SOUTH AFRICA - JANUARY 14: Kieron Pollard of the West Indies during the 3rd KFC T20 International match between South Africa and West Indies at Sahara Stadium Kingsmead on January 14, 2015 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Pollard has been a veteran for West Indies over the years 

A war of words broke out between West Indies star all-rounder Kieron Pollard and Chairman of selectors Courtney Browne after the former was dropped from the upcoming tri-series against Zimbabwe in November.

The 29-year-old said the reason given to him for the axing was that he had not been "committed to batting" during the recent limited-overs matches against Pakistan in the UAE.

Pollard termed the decision “funny” and said he would not now focus more on his future than crying over spilled milk.

But what has been a bit of a shock to Pollard is the fact that Browne had agreed during a conversation that the team would need his experience in the tour to Zimbabwe and now he has been dropped.

"When chairman of selectors Courtney Browne notified me via email of my axing, I reminded him of why my exclusion was funny because, during the Twenty20 and one-day series, the two of us had a long conversation, speaking about wanting to have guys such as myself around going forward in West Indies cricket," Pollard told ESPNcricinfo.

Also Read: Kieron Pollard blasts WICB following axing from ODI squad for Zimbabwe tri-series

Revealing as to why he was dropped, Pollard said, "He (Browne) said I wasn't 'committed to batting' during the tour, which I pressed him to clarify further because it was a broad statement.”

The all-rounder was also very angry about the fact that his commitment to the national team had been questioned.

"A lot of people tend to say Pollard and many of us are mercenaries and that we have given nothing to West Indies cricket in general. While it's clear I don't have the stats or the figures of that of a Brian Lara, nobody, as some were trying to suggest, can ever question my commitment or integrity while playing.”

Browne stuck to his words and said Pollard’s recent performances in the UAE were well below par and that he expects him to grind it out in the domestic competitions to be considered for selection again.

"Kieron's performance in the ODI series was far below what one expects from a player of his experience and his effort level was not what is expected from West Indies cricketers," Browne said.

"Kieron is therefore urged to compete in our domestic competitions, where he will have an additional opportunity to demonstrate his ability and can be considered again for selection."

In the series against Pakistan Pollard only scored 43 runs and bowled two overs in the three T20s in September. In the ODIs which followed the burly all-rounder amassed 42 runs and one wicket from three outings.

During the tour Pakistani fast bowling legend Waqar Younis who was working as a commentator had also said that Pollard should be dropped for his string of poor performances.

But Pollard has been quite a star for his side and there are many reasons why this decision might come back to haunt the West Indies selectors.

First of all, he is a world-class allrounder who has plied his trade in different franchise league around the world. In the Indian Premier League (IPL) Pollard plays for the Mumbai Indians and he has been a constant match-winner for them since he joined the franchise in 2010.

The burly Trinidadian has 1958 runs from 109 games at an incredible strike rate of 147.99. With the ball, he has been quite impressive too with 56 wickets at an average of 31.07.

Elsewhere too, that is in T20 leagues in the Caribbean, England, and Bangladesh, Pollard has been quite a consistent performer.

What makes him dangerous in the shorter format is his ability to smash it to all parts of the park. Pollard, over the years, has played a lot of innings where he has come in at No.6 or No.7 and changed the course of the game with his power-hitting.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 07:  Kieron Pollard of West Indies hits the ball to the boundary during the ICC Champions Trophy group B match between West Indies and Pakistan at The Oval on June 7, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Pollard is one of the biggest hitters in the game

The best thing about him is that he can hit the long ball at will. Pollard is a no-nonsense cricketer when it comes to smashing it into the stands. Though he is not an MS Dhoni, he still has 110 international sixes.

Against Zimbabwe, he might have been a weapon of sorts coming down late in the order. He would have surely struck a few big blows and try and finish games. Zimbabwe bowlers are quite inexperienced and one would back him to have come good in the series.

Above all its Pollard’s fielding, that can get him into the team alone. He is a live wire near the ropes and his catching is just out of the world. The way he follows the ball is something that youngsters can learn.

Who can forget his stunners at Canberra against Australia in 2013? He was even more brilliant in 2014 when he latched onto one from Kevin Cooper in the IPL. The second chance was tougher and Pollard had almost messed it up, but he flung the ball inside the field of play and then crossed the boundary rope. Then he turned around, rushed back to the playing area and dived forward full length to complete the catch.

Another thing about him is that he has tons of experience and the side touring Zimbabwe will miss it. He knows all about death bowling which is a key element in flat pitches there. Pollard has been a match winner for the Windies in the past and dropping him certainly harms the side. 

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