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Monday 14 October 2019
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Captain Pollard’s challenges

CRICKET West Indies has shown some analytical thinking in choosing another captain to lead the side in limited-overs cricket. Caribbean cricketers have been doing far too badly in all cricket for the past 20 years at least; since they were beaten by a margin of five-nil for the first time in a Test series in South Africa in 1998/99. They have now reached a stage where they have won only three titles in the 21st century; the Champions trophy, a fifty-over tournament played in England in 2004 with Brian Lara as captain, and two t20 world titles in 2012 and 2016 under Daren Sammy.

Apart from those spasmodic good times the actual cricket was not improving, and the team has been going from bad to worse. Of course, in the last five years or so, the downward slide was helped in no small way by a poor administration that was trying its best to denigrate West Indian players by installing draconian rules to stifle the better and more recognised players from playing in lucrative t20 tournaments world-wide.

Currently, a new administration is in place and quite wisely are making their changes cautiously. Kieron Pollard, the tall muscular Trinidadian, has been appointed captain for the One Day International and the t20 cricket competitions. The timing is right as there’s a t20 World Cup event in Australia next year in October. That’s quite enough time for the new captain to get the feel of leading his region in international cricket before such a big event. And no matter how much experience one has, one is never fully prepared to lead one’s country, as the only experience is in the actual job itself.

However, I can’t picture anyone more suitable than Pollard at the present time, to give the West Indies (WI) a fighting chance to recover and move on to better things. And, although a seasoned cricketer with leadership experience, he ought to be aware of the pitfalls if he’s going to avoid them.

He must understand his most important function is to play better cricket, hence happy players. This would sound obvious, nonetheless a player’s personality and how he reacts to his captain could be the difference between success and failure of the team. It is vitally important for the captain to know his cricketers inside out. He must know their likes and dislikes. In other words, what makes them tick. He ought to understand that he would have eleven men under him who are all different in their moods, manners and outlook and it’s his responsibility to know each one of them well or he would not be able to motivate them.

I happen to know Kieron and I have no hesitation to say that he’s quite capable in this regard. His cool, easy going personality and leadership qualities were recognised by his club, the Queen’s Park Cricket Club just over a decade ago and was made captain of the Club’s under-21 team in the TT Cricket Board’s competition.

The t20 star has to work alongside his coach to ensure they’re on the same page. Hansie Cronje, the South African captain, at a time when his team was going through a purple patch and had as his coach Bob Woolmer, the Englishman, said that they had an agreement that worked, and they were both happy with it.

That agreement gave Woolmer command over the team at practice, deciding what batsmen batted in which slots and when bowlers bowled and for how long, plus the wicket keeper’s training under his supervision. Although the captain and his coach would have conversations and exchange ideas, the skipper never interfered with the actual running of the practice.

The warm-ups before the game were also the coach’s duty, but after the toss was taken it was Cronje in charge. He set his batting order, conducted the team meetings, planned his strategies and tactics and, of course, all this in an exchange of ideas with Woolmer but that part was the captain’s obligation. This happened to work very successfully for them. Both parties must be happy with the idea or it won’t work. Naturally, this is a quiet arrangement between the two or else officialdom would interfere and spoil everything.

Pollard and his coach-to-be will have their own plan.

Kieron Pollard is a cool affable personality and a strong character with a gifted temperament of calmness under pressure. This is the type of disposition that the WI need at the moment for their team. Good luck, WI.

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