Kieran Powell: International cricket is my priority

Style statement… Kieran Powell has kicked-off the KP23 brand with his first range of apparel at Nevis. Photo Courtesy: Emma Everett

Nishad Pai Vaidya and Sudatta Mukherjee speak to West Indies batsman Kieran Powell, one of the most promising batsmen in the region who was named the West Indies Emerging Player of the Year.

Kieran Powell, the left-handed batsman from St Kitts and Nevis, is one of the most precociously talented batsmen from the West Indies and has been named the Emerging Player of the Year. The 23-year old was the second highest run-scorer at the ICC Under-19 Cricket World Cup 2008 and was one of the stars of that event alongside the likes of Virat Kohli and Tim Southee to name a few. He made it into the senior West Indies side in 2009 — when he made his One-Day International (ODI) debut against Bangladesh. Two years later, he received a Test cap when West Indies played India at Dominica.

Powell has given evidence of his talent and temperament. Late last year he scored two hundreds in a Test match against Bangladesh — a feat that puts him alongside the West Indian legend Brian Lara. The youngster also captained the West Indies A side in 2012.

Powell is not only determined to carve a successful international career, but also wants to make an impact otherwise. Recently, his apparel brand KP23 was launched, while a charity foundation is on the anvil. He is also set to mentor a Papua New Guinea side that will travel to Australia for the South Australia Cricket League.

CricketCountry caught up with him and spoke to him about his cricket, commercial ventures, his vision and a lot more:

Excerpts from an interview:

CricketCountry (CC): The Leewards Islands have produces numerous cricketing stars such as Viv Richards, Andy Roberts, Richie Richardson, Curtly Ambrose, Ridley Jacobs and Runako Morton. Who are your cricketing heroes?

Kieran Powell (KP): Richie Richardson was one of my heroes from the earlier era. Within the current international set-up, I would say Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Chris Gayle. I admire Dhoni and Gayle because of their ability to finish games. They also remain so cool and calm in any situation.
 

CC: You represented the West Indies at the 2008 Under-19 World Cup. How crucial was that experience to you career?

KP: I think that was a big learning curve for me. I started to understand the requirements of playing at the international level. So, it was crucial in setting up my entrance in to the international scene.

 
CC: Virat Kohli got a hundred against the West Indies Under-19s in that tournament. Did you think he would go on to become the player he is today?

KP: I remember playing in the match against India. When Virat Kohli went on to get a century against the West Indies and we all knew during that match that he would one day play for India.
 

CC: You made your international debut in 2009, but it took you two years to become a more permanent fixture in the side. How difficult was the transition from domestic cricket to the highest level?

KP: Transition at the time was very difficult because we did not play at our best grounds in the Caribbean. All the First-Class matches now need to be played at international venues, so things have improved a lot.
 

CC: One of your first major tours was to the sub-continent — to India in particular. Can you tell us about how you adjusted to the conditions? You did manage a good knock at Mumbai in the third Test in 2011.

KP: Yes, it was a fairly easy transition to adapt to the conditions in India. This is because we were on tour to Bangladesh for two weeks just before arriving in India. I spent a few days in the nets with the batting coach and prepared for the tour. There were a few changes to my game, but more along the psychological lines. My mental approach had changed.
 

CC:  You were the first West Indian to hit two hundreds (117 & 110) in a Test since Brian Lara in 2001 which you achieved it against Bangladesh in 2012. However, you scored your first Test hundred (134) earlier that year against New Zealand. Which milestone do you cherish the most and why?  

KP: Both were significant milestones for me. Two centuries in a Test match is a rare feat and it was a momentous occasion for me, but my first century will always be special as of course it was the maiden one. That innings was particularly important because it came at a make or break stage in my career.
 

CC: The tour to Australia early this year was a tough one for the West Indies. You did manage to score 83 on the fast wicket at Perth. What was your approach during that innings?

KP: I tried to bat as if it was a Test match. The ball was doing a lot, but as it got older, I got more confident and started to build a partnership with Dwayne Bravo. Playing there was a challenge and I decided to take my time to get my eye in. When the ball got older, it became much easier to play and I was set to score on that wicket.
 

CC: Recently, an injury kept you out of the ICC Champions Trophy 2013. For a cricketer who is cementing his spot in the team, how difficult is it to return as there is competition for berths in the side?

KP: Personally, I am not thinking about the difficulties of gaining a spot in the team. Instead, I am focusing on my own personal performance at the moment.

CC:  A lot of your teammates have travelled across the world and honed their skills in numerous tournaments. Which tournaments are you looking forward to play in? Is the IPL something that you are eyeing?

KP: I am looking forward to play in all the prestigious tournaments in the world. That is when my West Indies international schedule permits. However, at present, my priority is to focus on cementing my position in the West Indies team.
 

CC: Do you have any plans to play in English county cricket? You started you cricketing career in England after all as you studied at Millfield.

KP: Yes, if an opportunity was presented and my international schedule permits, I would love to. County cricket does help a player and has an impact on one’s career. However, as I said, international cricket is my priority and I will play county cricket when I can.
 

CC: The first edition of the Caribbean T20 is coming up? How excited are you about this league? How do you think it would benefit Caribbean cricket in general?

KP: I think it is an excellent development and a step in the right direction for Caribbean cricket. It will provide rising new talent with exposure. It will give them an opportunity to be seen across the world alongside the well-established West Indies international players and hone their skills with them. From an economic perspective, it would obviously be a huge boost to the region.

CC: Last year, you captained the West Indies A team. In what way did it help you grow as a cricketer and do you believe the administration is looking at you as a potential leader for the future?

KP: It helped me grow as a player as I had the opportunity to think strategically. I also had to think on behalf of the entire team — which also meant that I had to work with each player in the squad and adapt to their individual style of play, their individual personalities etc. If I am presented with such an honour i.e. to lead a West Indies team in the future, I would grab it with both hands for sure. 
 

CC: We understand you have a few exciting projects coming up. Can you tell us about the mentorship role you are taking up in the Papua New Guinea (PNG)?

KP: Greg Campbell, former Australian Test cricketer, who is Ricky Ponting’s uncle is currently Cricket PNG’s CEO and asked me if I could come in as a mentor ahead of their tour to Australia for the South Australia Cricket League. This trip is the first initiative under my Kieran Powell Academy. On the trip to PNG, I will act as ambassador, mentor, advisor and I have also been asked to star in some games in Australia as their “overseas international.”
 

CC: Also, you have an apparel partnership and a KP 23 brand which is also going to be released. The Kieran Powell Foundation is also coming up. What is your vision for KP 23 and what do you aim to do with your Foundation?

KP: The kick-off initiative of the KP23 brand is the launch of our first range of apparel and it was launched at my alma matter in Nevis. I wanted to create a brand that was significant and proximate to today’s cricketing fans and community and what better feeling than inaugurating it in my old school and presenting it to them. My website is also coming up. Through the Kieran Powell Foundation, I aim to carry out a select number of charity projects each year.
 
(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44.)

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)