'Damned if you do damned if you don’t' - Windies T20 captain Pollard not bothered by controversy surrounding selection of older players’

By Sports Desk June 26, 2021

West Indies T20 captain, Kieron Pollard, insists he will not be overly perturbed by the din surrounding the selection of some senior players for the team, as a debate would have surrounded the squad regardless.

The selection of veteran players Chris Gayle, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo has ruffled the feathers of some fans who insist the team should be more focused on developing younger players. 

With the T20 World Cup coming up, however, the position of the panel of selectors, and articulated by Pollard himself, has been to leave the door open for any player that can meaningfully contribute to the team winning a third title.

Gayle (41), Edwards (39), and Bravo (37) have been called up to the team ahead of a series of T20 contests, ahead of the global tournament, which began with a series against Sri Lanka back in February.

“When you look at if from a logical perspective if you go with youngsters there will still be noise.  No matter what you do there will be noise,” Pollard told members of the media, in addressing the issue.

“So, I think it’s what’s best for us, what’s best for us, and what we think is best for us going into a tournament like that.  If those guys can be assets for us, then why not get the opportunity to use the little bit of experience or a little bit of cricket that they may have left in them," he added.

“It’s a situation that we are looking to pick the best team.  So, these guys they play around the world, and we get the opportunity to see them play around the world and we wonder why they are not playing for us but then when we select them, we ask the questions, why are we selecting them?  Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”   

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    In his first T20I as captain, King top-scored with 79 from 45 balls during the first international at Sabina Park in nearly two years.

    The 29-year-old set the forthcoming T20 World Cup co-hosts on their way with a 79-run partnership with Kyle Mayers helping them to 109/1 after 10 overs.

    However, they struggled to build on that momentum and were 66/7 thereon to finish on 175/8 with Ottneil Baartman and Andile Phehlukwayo both taking three wickets apiece.

    South Africa were slow out of the blocks with Quinton de Kock failing to reach double figures as they were reduced to 35/3 in the fifth over, and required 99 runs to win at the halfway point in their innings.

    Reeza Hendricks - the only visiting player to score more than 20 - put on an impressive late surge of 87 off 51 balls, but it proved academic with the Proteas bowled out for 147.

    Data debrief

    Becoming the 14th different player to captain West Indies in men's T20Is, King will have been pleased to start his reign against South Africa - the nation against whom he boasted his best T20I batting strike in the format (171.4).

    He certainly continued in that vein, reaching 50 off just 26 balls for his fastest T20I half-century. It proved crucial as the hosts went on to record their biggest margin of victory over the Proteas when batting first.

  • Hail King: Stand-in captain's 79 guides Windies to 28-run win over SA on successful return to Sabina Park Hail King: Stand-in captain's 79 guides Windies to 28-run win over SA on successful return to Sabina Park

    It was a welcome return of international cricket to Sabina Park, even moreso for stand-in captain Brandon King, who led from the front as West Indies downed South Africa by 28 runs in the first of their three Twenty20 (T20) warm-up encounters on Thursday.

    King, who is leading the team for the first time on his home soil, gave the decent size crowd much to cheer about with a well-played 79 off 45 balls, which assisted the Caribbean side to 175-8 from their allotment, before Matthew Forde (3-27), Gudakesh Motie (3-25) and Obed McCoy (2-15), restricted South Africa to 147 in 19.5 overs.

    Despite the absence of the main scoreboard –which has been out for almost four years now –as well as an underprepared tabled press area, King and company ensured that the first international game at the venue since 2022, was a successful one.

    The 29-year-old, who is deputizing for compatriot Rovman Powell, attributed his Player-of-the-Match knock, which included six fours and six maximums, to the familiar conditions.

    “Obviously it is leading up to the World Cup so we want to be playing good cricket and we got the win today, so we are happy with that and I think we played well all around,” King said in a post-game interview.

    “I had the advantage of knowing the conditions well and I know that it is easiest to bat when it’s the new ball so I had to try and get a good start and I executed well. At the mid-way point I think we had 200-220 in mind as we had wickets in hand but it is a difficult wicket to bat on when the ball gets older, but we still managed to get a competitive total on this wicket,” he added.

    After being asked to take first strike, King started positively, but lost opening partner Johnson Charles (one) in the fourth over with the score at 36.

    However, he found another useful ally in Kyle Mayers, and the added a further 79 runs for the second wicket, with King, the aggressor raising his 10th international half-century off 27 balls in the sixth over when he drove a length delivery from Lungi Ngidi to the midwicket boundary.

    The skipper continued to take the South African bowlers to task, before he eventually went, reaching for one of Andile Phehlukwayo that came off the toe of the bat and was caught by his opposite number Rassie van der Dussen.

    Still, at 115-2 after 11 overs, West Indies remained on course for a massive total, but then came the familiar collapse as they lost three wickets in quick succession. Mayers was first to go for a 25-ball 34, including three sixes and a solitary four, with Andre Fletcher (one) and Fabian Allen (one) following.

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    Phehlukwayo (3-28) and Ottneil Baartman (3-26) did the damage for South Africa.

    In reply, South Africa started with Quinton De Cock driving Matthew Forde’s first ball, a full length delivery, straight down the ground. However, the 22-year-old Barbadian responded immediately as he served up another full length delivery, just around off stump, which forced de Kock into another drive, but the left-hander got a slight edge and Andre Fletcher made no mistakes behind the stumps.

    Debutant Ryan Rickelton (six) also had a brief stay in the middle, and from there, the visitors laboured, despite Reeza Hendricks making his 15th T20 international half-century. Hendricks, who was ninth man out with just two balls left of the innings, made a career-best 87 off 51 balls with six sixes and six fours.

    Captain Rassie van der Dussen (17) and Matthew Breetzke (19) were the only other South African batsmen to reach double figures.

    The second and third games of the series are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, at the same venue, ahead of the much-anticipated June-1-29 T20 World Cup hosted in the Caribbean and United States.

  • RCB needed a 'little bit more' to challenge Royals in playoff defeat, says Du Plessis RCB needed a 'little bit more' to challenge Royals in playoff defeat, says Du Plessis

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    "It felt like we needed a push, a few more runs to make it even more competitive. So, I did think we were 20 runs shy of a good score on that pitch. But credit to our boys who fought really well, hanging in there right till the end. That's all you can ask for, a great fight.

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    "A lot of teams would have probably fallen off after one [win] from nine [eight]," he added.

    "We have got great characters in that dressing room, all of us really put our hands up with a lot of pride and a lot of fight in us to make sure we give our best and give absolutely everything we have. And to come back like that, winning six games in a row takes a lot of heart, takes a lot of character.

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