Kieron Pollard has made a name for himself in the world of T20s. Photo Courtesy: Caribbean Premier League
Kieron Pollard discusses the challenge of being a Twenty20 traveller and the upcoming Caribbean Premier League (CPL) in an exclusive chat with Nishad Pai Vaidya.
Kieron Pollard is one of the leading T20 cricketers in the world. The big-hitting West Indian all-rounder has graced T20 tournaments in India, Australia, England, Bangladesh and of course the Caribbean. In this age, when T20 cricket takes players all around the globe, it isn’t easy to adjust to different teams and conditions. Pollard is one of the few who has managed to succeed in most tournaments. In this exclusive chat with CricketCountry, Pollard talks about the challenges of playing T20 cricket, the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), the Indian Premier League (IPL), sharing the dressing room with Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting, and a lot more:
CricketCountry (CC): You have travelled the world to play T20 cricket with different sides. How difficult is it to adjust to different teams, with varying cultures, game plans etc?
Kieron Pollard (KP): Sometimes you look at it and think it is difficult, but it is not that difficult. At the end of the day, you are playing cricket for a team. The same things apply, where you have to give 100 percent. For me, once I step out onto the field, it is 100 percent I give to whichever team I play for. In terms of gelling and knowing players, it is happening all over now. You stay with all sorts of players all over the world. Wherever you go, you have friends or you have someone who has played with you in a team before. It is not difficult, but just a matter of understanding the culture, what they want to do and achieve on the field. It is very simple for you as a professional to get into that setup as you want to achieve what they want to achieve and that is to win games and tournaments.
CC: You said about having friends. For example, you play with Rohit Sharma at Mumbai Indians. But, when you face-off in international cricket, you share a laugh or two and the camaraderie is there. That has been possible because of such leagues isn’t it?
KP: Yes of course. They help build friendships. You play cricket for a certain amount of time, but friendship is something that you want everlasting. There are things you do after a cricket match; you sit down and chat. Then, when you are in the same team, you share different things. It does build those long-term relationships and that is exactly what happened.
CC: Last year, you captained Barbados Tridents in the CPL 2013. You belong to Trinidad and Tobago. How was the experience of going to another island and leading a side in search of the big prize in the Caribbean?
KP: It was pretty different for me. Even for the fans and the people of Barbados, it was different as a Trinidadian came to captain Barbados. All those things are put to rest. It goes back to the first question. You come to a team and you just want to do well. All we did was to try to play as a unit. We won some games and won the hearts of the people of Barbados. I think it is a matter of you doing your job, controlling what you can control and things fall in place. It was certainly something different for me to captain Barbados and I think we did a good job as a team and the management team as well. We look forward to 2014 and going that one step further.
CC: How difficult is it to captain in T20 cricket? You have led West Indies in a One-Day International (ODI) or two in the past and then captained Barbados in the CPL.
KP: It is not that difficult. It is just that you have to make a few decisions very instinctively. I play a lot of T20 cricket, I play all over the world. I think of keeping to the basics and doing what is necessary at that time. You don’t want to over-complicate too much. From a captain’s point of view, when you over-complicate or overanalyse, that is when you get into trouble. You just try to keep as calm as possible. It was pretty different from the 50-over format, where you have longer time to think and plan to get a batsman out. In T20s, you have to get him out as quickly as possible and try to stop the flow of runs. It is a bit different but all comes into the same capacity of captaincy — about the basics and what you want to achieve.
CC: You have been a magnificent fielder. Recently, you took a magnificent catch at Ahmedabad to dismiss Kevon Cooper. Looking at all that, how much do you think fielding has evolved in the last few years in T20 cricket? Particularly, when you consider the fearlessness with which fielders take those stunners on the boundary.
KP: Fielding is an integral part of the game. I guess only in the last 10-12 years, after Jonty Rhodes showed us what fielding can do and what impact it could have on a game, people started taking it seriously. I think especially in T20 cricket, it saves you runs. If you can save 10-15 runs on the field, that is 10-15 runs less the opposition has. It creates pressure and as a batsman, you know when the fielding team up and are diving around, it is going to be difficult to score. Fielding has evolved and is or just as equally important as batting or bowling. More teams are paying attention to that, employing specialist fielding coaches. You see now, the importance of fielding and what it can bring to the outcome and result of the game.
CC: Initially, during your time at the Mumbai Indians, some felt you were batting too low down the order. But, as you went higher up the order and had more deliveries to face, you showed consistency. How important is that initial period of getting your eye in, even for someone like you who can smash it from ball one?
KP: As you said, once you have more time, you become more consistent. Then, you have seen the pace of the pitch, what the bowlers are doing and then you can plan how you want to attack. You know as a power-hitter, majority of the balls they bowl, you can clear the boundaries. Once you get in, the percentage of hitting a boundary is higher when compared to a situation when you have to go attack from when you go to bat. It is there to see. You watch Chris Gayle, he needs time as well. You watch even David Warner. You need time to get in and analyse the situation.
CC: What is the secret to batting in slog overs? You may have all the power in the world, but it isn’t easy. How do you approach it as it is important not to panic?
KP: Yes, it is important not to panic. It is important to keep a still head, have a still base and swing straight to the line of the delivery. Again, in slog overs, once you’ve had that time and have been in, it is easy to accelerate and get more out of you want to achieve. For me, it is important to stay still, have a base and letting the instincts take over. You try not to think too much and over-complicate it; you can then get yourself into trouble. You try to out-think the bowler; you try to feel and try to decide where he is going to bowl and where you want to execute your shot.
CC: Can you tell us about the whole experience of playing the Indian Premier League (IPL) and the CPL, the differences between the two tournaments? What has it been like to share dressing rooms with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky Ponting?
KP: Let us start with the IPL. It is a good experience. You see the Indian public and are amazed to see how they come and support the team. The love you get from a cricketing point of view is fantastic. Cricketers look forward to playing and doing well in the IPL. It goes back to being able to rub shoulders with guys like Tendulkars, Pontings. In my first year at the Mumbai Indians, there was Sanath Jayasuriya as well. So the experience of someone who has played a lot of international cricket is good for us as youngsters coming in and trying to pick their brains. That’s good. We appreciate that and look forward to it.
Coming to the CPL, it was a success in the Caribbean. We as Caribbean people, really took to it. There were many people for the CPL matches and some people couldn’t get into the ground. That augurs well for the Caribbean and hopefully it can be bigger and better next year. We look forward to the CPL as well because not only we want to play on the international scene, but also play in front of the Caribbean people as well. I thank the people behind the CPL and hope it continues for years to come.
CC: Last question: which team do you support at the FIFA World Cup 2014?
KP: I support France. I know there are a lot of bigger teams, but I support France.
(Kieron Pollard is set to captain the Barbados Tridents in the 2014 Limacol Caribbean Premier League starting on July 11 in Grenada. For more info visit CPLT20.com)
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)