KIERON POLLARD’S 10 MOST MEMORABLE T20 APPEARANCES
On 4th March 2020, West Indies “white ball” captain Kieron Pollard celebrated his 500th T20 appearance in West Indies’ victory against Sri Lanka in Pallekele. In scoring 34 runs off 15 balls, he became just the second player after Chris Gayle to score 10,000 runs in T20 cricket which put the West Indies on the road to their first T20I series win since the December 2018 triumph in Bangladesh.
In a 14-year international and club career en route to these records, Pollard has played for 14 different teams in all of the test playing nation T20 leagues except New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
To celebrate this incredible milestone, “Polly” spoke to CWI Media recalling his ten most memorable moments in his #500 match T20 career so far.
1 - All-Round Performance in 2012 World Cup Semi Final vs Australia: 5 October 2012, Colombo, Sri Lanka. West Indies win by by 74 runs.
Watching Kieron Pollard swat Xavier Doherty in that 2012 semi-final offered a glimpse into the past, when the Guyanese duo of Alvin Kallicharran and Roy Fredericks produced swashbuckling innings against Ian Chappell's side circa 1975-76. The way the team lifted its game in response to James Faulkner's ill-advised comment that he didn't like West Indies players was reminiscent of famous confrontations of the past: Ambrose v Steve Waugh in 1995, McGrath v Lara in 1999, and McGrath v Sarwan in 2003.
Pollard: “Coming up against Australia in a World Cup T20 semifinal you don’t need more motivation than that.
“Chris Gayle was batting brilliantly and my job was just to finish and I certainly did that. Overall these are the knockout games I’ve always prided myself in standing up for the teams I’ve played with. That semifinal was one the early ones that helped me develop that confidence to perform in such matches, all over the world in 501 games I’ve played.”
2 - 63 for West Indies vs New Zealand, batting with Chris Gayle: 30 June 2012, Lauderhill, Florida. West Indies win by 56 runs
It’s not often Chris Gayle and Kieron Pollard, the two leading run scorers in T20 cricket history have batted together in domestic and international cricket. But one of the few times these two dynamic six hitters did it was in maroon colours in sunny Florida 2012, a few months before the West Indies secured its maiden T20 World Title.
Pollard: “It was one of those tours where you get an opportunity to play in Florida and just enjoy the moment from a both a cricket and personal perspective where players can mix game preparation with shopping and other stuff in a popular tourist destination.
“I recall the conditions were really hot walking out with Gayle going guns blazing. The first ball I faced was hit for six and sometimes all you need is that positive feeling to get your innings going perfectly, with everything hitting the middle of the bat and balls hitting the gaps frequently.”
3 - First T20 Half Century As West Indies Captain: 11 December 2019, Mumbai, India. India win by 67 Runs.
2019 was the most successful T20 batting year of Kieron Pollard’s career. He scored 1404 runs, making it only the fourth time he had passed 1000 runs since his breakout 2009 season. This was also the 9th most runs scored in a T20 calendar year.
This level of performances and maturity came ideally when he was appointed West Indies captain and celebrated his maiden T20 fifty leading the team against India.
Pollard: “Despite it being in a losing effort, no doubt it was a notable career moment to get my first half century leading the West Indies team.
“It was nice to do it playing for West Indies at the Wankhede Stadium where I’ve become accustomed to wearing the blue for Mumbai Indians as well. This was a scenario that I and many others may have thought highly unlikely, given how the well documented history of my international career has gone.”
4 - 54 for Trinidad and Tobago vs New South Wales, 2009 Champions League T20: 16 October 2009, Hyderabad, India. Trinidad and Tobago win by 4 wickets.
Kieron Pollard had a batting average of 11.30 from 15 ODIs and 17.20 from 10 T20Is when he became the joint-biggest buy at the IPL player auction in January 2010. Mumbai Indians weren't paying $750,000 for Pollard's international record; they were paying for the fearsome hitting power he had shown in domestic T20 action - most notably while smashing 54 off 18 balls for T&T against New South Wales during the 2009 Champions League T20.
Pollard: “Teams weren’t taking us seriously from the start of champions league since we were from the Caribbean with our funky hairstyles and perceived laid back attitude, but we knew what we wanted to accomplish.
“I recall coming into bat with Ramdin (Denesh) with us under pressure in the run chase and having a few overs to settle in.
“After he got out the rest is history. I was in the zone and Moises Henriques was the unfortunate bowler that day and that fifty while it didn’t revive my career since I was playing international cricket for two years, it certainly gave me the confidence that I belonged at the highest level after performing like that against a New South Wales team full of players in the Australian team that were still dominating international cricket.
“That game and innings will always be memorable for me, Trinidad & Tobago and the Caribbean people. It laid foundations for our domestic Red Force dominance which helped the West Indies win two World Cups and many of us getting IPL deals.”
5 - Man Of Match Performance in 2013 IPL Final: 26 May 2013, Kolkata, India. Mumbai Indians won by 23 runs.
Clive Lloyd, Ian Bradshaw and Marlon Samuels names will always be in Caribbean cricket folklore after their key dynamic finals performances propelled West Indies to maiden 50 overs, Champions Trophy and Twenty20 World Cup titles in 1975, 2004 & 2012.
Kieron Pollard’s journey to have his name solidified in Indian Cricket folklore was established with his player of the match effort as Mumbai Indians secured its first IPL title in 2010.
Pollard: “An IPL title had evaded Mumbai ever since I joined the team in 2010 when we lost in the final to Chennai
“We were in a difficult position losing five wickets in the first 10 overs when I came out to bat, but given the individual I am with a never say die attitude and strong will to win, I stood up.
“That innings was just another indicator of me maturing in game situations, because I had to curb my natural instincts and bat with the lower order in order to get the team to a respectable total.
“So overall a very memorable game to have produced a man of match performances in a major final.”
6 - 83 For Mumbai Indians in 2019 IPL: 10 April 2019, Mumbai, India. Mumbai Indians win by 3 wickets.
Following a difficult 2018 IPL where Mumbai Indians failed to qualify for the tournament play-offs as 2017 champions, there was pressure on their senior Indian and overseas players to bounce back in 2019.
In one memorable game Pollard stepped up big time to score what ESPN described as the best innings of IPL 2019 - best innings of IPL 2019
Pollard: “I got an opportunity to captain Mumbai that day and it didn’t start off well in the field with Kings XI Punjab scoring 190 plus.
From there on I took up the mantle to bat at number four with a plan to target the spinners, which I was able to execute almost perfectly although I got out near the end.”
7 - Smashing Five Sixes in an Over for Trinidad and Tobago: 11 January 2012, Antigua. Trinidad and Tobago win by 167 runs.
Two pillars of strength that have defined Kieron Pollard‘s career have been his natural six hitting powers and ability to attack spinners of all quality at will.
On one evening in Antigua 2012 on a ground named after the ‘Master Blaster’ Sir Viv Richards, leg-spinner Anthony Martin was the unlucky bowler as Pollard combined these two skills to devastating perfection.
Pollard: “Before the CPL started, the Trinidad Red Force team was no doubt building a dynasty in regional T20 cricket.
“I recall we had suffered a surprise first game loss to Darren Sammy’s Windward Islands and as defending champions that certainly gave us a solid wake up call ahead of the Leeward Islands game.
“When I came out to bat after Lendl (Simmons) and Barath (Adrian) had given us a perfect start and facing up to leg spinners Martin (Anthony), he simply bowled to my strengths and I was able to take advantage, although deep down looking back I was a little disappointed I didn’t complete hitting six sixes.”
8 - First T20 Century, St. Lucia Stars: 17 August 2018, St. Lucia.
The true character of professional sportsmen are always tested when they are under adversity and in 2018 Kieron Pollard faced this on and off the field. It was his third lowest run scoring year since 2010, he had a public squabble with the West Indies board and made a controversial high profile switch from Barbados Trident to St Lucia Stars.
All these factors combined had built up to a crescendo before scoring his maiden T20 century and this made that innings extra significant for Pollard.
Pollard: “This one was special with it being my only T20 century to date. It came on the back of a devastating loss to the Trinbago Knight Riders on the previous night.
“As a sportsman when something doesn’t go right, you want the opportunity to put it right straight away and I got that opportunity the next day.
“It was a case of going from villain to hero in a matter of 24 hours. The previous night I got hit for 30 runs in an over and had to stomach us not being able to defend 220 odd, then coming the next day and hitting that six off Reifer (Raymond) to bring up century was one of the most satisfying feelings for me in cricket.
“The monkey was off my back in scoring that elusive century and doing it against Barbados Trident considering my previous associate leading the team.”
9 - Consecutive Sixes to seal Karachi Kings’ qualification for the PSL 2017 Play-Offs: 25 Feb 2017, Dubai.
‘I love it when a plan comes together’ was the famous quote by character John ‘Hannibal’ Smith, in the fictional 1980s action series, The A-Team, everytime a planned mission was completed successfully.
In a 2018 PSL game, Kieron Pollard produced the cricket equivalent of executing a perfect plan and single handedly winning it for his team, after years of practicing the exact scenario in training.
Pollard: “If Karachi had lost that game we would have been out of the tournament. It was a game where the momentum was swinging drastically and in the end it came down to two shots.
“I remember missing one of the deliveries in that final over and closing my eyes and trying to refocus knowing who I am and thinking the bowler was under more pressure than me.
“Whether it's 10 or 12 runs off two balls these are scenarios that we players practice countless times, so when you get an opportunity in a match and pull it off people don’t forget.”
10 - The “Jayawardene Catch” for Barbados Tridents: 11 July 2015, Barbados.
Starting from 1990 Jonty Rhodes, Herschelle Gibbs and Ricky Ponting namely set the global gold standard template of modern day fielding excellence.
Kieron Pollard has not only matched their fielding prowess throughout his career, but changed the perception that tall and strongly built players couldn’t be outstanding fielders.
However for Pollard despite taking numerous athletic boundary catches worldwide, his most memorable is one sneaky catch he took at short-leg in CPL 2015 to dismiss Mahela Jayawardene.
Pollard: “As a captain sometimes you gotta think outside the box and try to be one step ahead proactively. I know Mahela was struggling throughout the tournament and given his class and game situation we didn’t want to allow him the opportunity to find form.
“I’m a guy that prides myself in being able to analyze cricket whether as a player or captain, so although it worked that day and looked brilliant on television, Mahela could have easily got off to flyer also - but no doubt the extra pressure created doubt in his mind.”