One man, many adjectives; just how do you describe the Trinidad-born West Indian cricketer Kieron Pollard, who turns 35 on May 12, 2022?
What adjectives would you come to embrace in describing a career that spanned fifteen long years, first appearing during the much-watched 2007 Men’s ODI world cup (held in the Caribbean), and has ultimately yielded 4,275 runs for the West Indies from 224 international, besides 3,400 plus IPL runs?
Pollard was no batting god, nor was he the most accomplished trailblazer who wrote incredibly inspiring chapters for the West Indies. Yet, born to a generation that was experiencing a new dawn in international cricket, one known as T20, that arrived in 2007 (also the year of Pollard’s debut), the right-hander took to the format akin to the Hulk in the Avengers series and birthed many blistering knocks.
Today, the moment you hear the name of Kieron Pollard, you cannot help but dwell on lofty sixes that would clear any boundary, whether at the Gaddafi stadium in Pakistan, the Wankhede in India or the Mecca of cricket Down Under: the MCG!
Kieron Pollard applied his rhinoceros-like power to a wolf-like instincts for attack in becoming one of the most dangerous batters in the white-ball game; someone you wouldn’t bowl short to, someone you simply feared.
With his lanky frame, broad shoulders and an intelligent, eager mind, Pollard walked in a long career, one that was marked with bludgeoning blows and meaty hits, not all of which always brought great glory for his West Indies.
Yet, his was a popular run that was marked by great thrills and entertainment, something the West Indians often always manage to do and with some pomp!
As the big hitting recently-retired all rounder turns 35, we reminisce the top five moments of Kieron Pollard’s career:
Kieron Pollard’s Career’s Most Memorable ODI Ton, SCG 2013
One of the finest moments in Kieron Pollard’s career came way back in 2013 during the West Indies’ tour of Australia. In what turned out to be rather one-sided bilateral contests in which hosts utterly dominated the hapless visitors, one man took up the fight and stood out.
The occasion was the fourth ODI and the venue was the mega Sydney Cricket Ground. While the series had already been lost, the West Indies going down 3-0 until such time, everyone, especially the Caribbean fans dreamt of a breakthrough.
Or if not, then, at least, some respite from what had hitherto been uncontrollable bashing at the hands of the Aussies.
That is when Kieron Pollard offered dogged resistance, scoring a 109 off 136 deliveries as he guided his team to a respectable- if not defendable-220 on the board.
So what was special about the feat; any talented batsman at some point in his career saves the side and scores a century, right?
Well, back then, Pollard, aged just 26, had walked in with the West Indies reeling at 17 down for 3. They’d soon slide further down to 22 for 4, before losing half their batters for no more than 45 on the board.
For someone who walked into the park in the eighth over, Kieron Pollard not just struck a rollicking hundred, but even emerged unbeaten in the end, holding onto an end for no fewer than forty two overs on the trott.
In so doing, he’d flex his muscles on his way to punching eleven fours and two sixes.
Alas, the century wouldn’t be enough for the West Indies to eek out a win.
But what’s interesting- and perhaps also highly under appreciated- is that the only contest that the men from the Caribbean won on that listless Australian tour was the solitary T20I, which was at the behest of Pollard’s man-of-the-match performance (26 runs and a 3-for).
Six Consecutive Sixes; Giving Elite Company To Yuvraj, Gibbs and Co.
On 3 March 2021, the Sri Lankans learnt a really key lesson; that about the perils of bowling in Pollard’s zone.
Rather, you could say, the lesson was taught rather harrowingly by Kieron Pollard to a certain Dananjaya.
In chasing a rather paltry 132 to win, Pollard took just 11 deliveries to stamp his signature on the contest. He’d take the West Indies on the driver’s seat in the sixth over of their run-chase, one bowled by an unsuspecting Dananjaya.
Creaming the spinner for six consecutive sixes, a feat never previously achieved by any West Indian (before Pollard) whether Sir Viv, Sir Sobers, Frank Worrell or even Brian Lara in any format of the game, the Trinidadian became the first man to do so and so far, the only one to have done it.
The belligerent takedown of the Sri Lankan punctuated by the magnificent six hitting, the red carpet moment of the successful series for the West Indians, became among the huge talking points in Kieron Pollard’s career.
Leading WIN To Memorable Series Win v AFG In Maiden Captaincy Assignment
The most difficult part of a cricketer’s journey is to lead his team. And lead by an example, whilst doing so.
Why at the second half of 2019 was Jason Holder fired from captaincy is best known to the cricket administrators and parent bodies responsible for running the sport in the Caribbean; for as fans, we only have conjecture and imagination to side with.
But what we know for a fact is that the-then newly appointed West Indies white-ball captain, Kieron Pollard got off to a flier in his maiden assigment.
Captaining the side against a powerful Afghanistan line-up that featured Rashid Khan, Mujeeb, Nabi and the likes of Zazai, Pollard led his men avidly and bravely to register a 3-nil triumph. A whitewash against Afghanistan, far away from the breezy comfort of Caribbean pitches that hardly offer any turn.
There was no Gayle, Narine, Russell or Sammy back then and perhaps this made the effort really special as much as the fact that in the 3rd and final ODI, with the West Indies requiring 250 for a win, Pollard contributed with a vital and eventually, game-changing 32 off just 26 (2 sixes).
Notching Up 500 T20s, The First Man To Do So
In March 2020 arrived one of the most remarkable moments of Kieron Pollard’s career; a moment that he would truly savour and one that many would simply salute him for.
Whilst taking the field during the T20 international against Sri Lanka at Pallakele (in Kandy), Kieron Pollard became the first cricketer to reach the giant milestone of appearing in 500 T20 contests.
There’s much love attached to mind-boggling statistics. That some of them in the great game of cricket have come from the talent of the Trinidadians is something special and worth savouring.
For instance, Brian Lara’s 400 not out or his 501 against Durham for Warwickshire.
And then, on 4th of March, 2020, Pollard’s magnanimous feat of featuring in no fewer than 500 T20s.
Just how big a number that truly is- ask any currently serving T20 expert who plies his trade all around the world where the common trend is the fast mushrooming of league or franchise-based cricket.
Playing Perhaps The Most Unsung T20I Inning For WIN In A World Cup
Perhaps it may not be wrong to say that most of us will remember the 2012 triumph of the West Indies in the T20 World Cup for Marlon Samuels’ ostentatious takedown of Lasith Malinga in the final, which was, of course, the most important contest of the touranament.
Though, true to the adage that the world hardly comes to bother about the next-best or the second-best performance so to speak, not many remember the key inning that paved way for the Windies’ final berth; the inning played in the semi final.
On October 5, 2012, nearly a decade back in the day, saw one of the finest and brightest moments in Kieron Pollard’s career. It would be a date where he’d decimate Australia with a brilliant 38 off just 14 deliveries in an exhibition of powerful salvo that included three fours and as many sixes.
It would also be a knock that very nearly threatened to end the spinner Xavier Doherty’s T20I career, the right-hander pounding the seemingly banal spinner for mega sixes.
While it was a Gayle-storm at the top of the order, the left-hander amassing 75 precious runs for the Windies, the inning that truly gave the Windies the winning impetus was Pollard’s destructive 38- arguably speaking, his most valuable thirty in a T20I.
The shot of the inning, however, you are compelled to say, was the glorious flick off the hips on Pat Cummins, then a newcomer, on 17.6 overs that bisected two fielders to breach the fence.