FORMER West Indies fast bowler Tony Gray says people should not criticise Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) captain Kieron Pollard for the decisions he made during the team’s match against St Kitts and Nevis Patriots, in a 2019 Hero Caribbean Premier League T20 match, at Warner Park in St Kitts, on Tuesday night.
In arguably the match of the tournament, Patriots needed a super over to defeat TKR after the match ended in a tie. Patriots, led by captain Carlos Brathwaite, scored 18 without loss batting first in the super over off fast bowler Ali Khan.
In reply, TKR could only muster 5/1 in their turn at the crease, as Brathwaite bowled a brilliant final over. The loss ended TKR’s streak of four consecutive victories to start the tournament. Darren Bravo, playing his first match of the tournament because of a concussion, was selected to open alongside Pollard. Fans felt TKR’s top batsman this season Lendl Simmons should have opened the batting or possibly Colin Munro. Darren also did not get much time at the crease earlier, scoring 24 not out off 12 balls to help push TKR to 216/4 in 20 overs. Simmons top scored with 90 off 45 deliveries that included nine fours and six sixes.
Brathwaite cracked 64 off 30 balls to guide Patriots to 216/7 in 20 overs in reply. Patriots went into the final over requiring 19 off fast bowler Jimmy Neesham. TT’s Rayad Emrit delivered, ending on 21 not out off 11 deliveries as Patriots forced a super over. Neesham, who has bowled brilliantly at the end of the innings during the tournament, had a night to forget conceding 68 runs in his four overs.
Gray said he had no problem with Pollard giving Neesham the ball for the final over. “I think Pollard did the right thing because Jimmy Neesham is an experienced bowler. He just played a World Cup for New Zealand and he got them into the final with some good bowling. People could talk in hindsight, but I think that he made the right decision.”
However, Gray did not agree with the decision to open with Darren in the super over saying, “I was a little confused that Darren Bravo (who) has not been in form and has not been playing would have (been allowed to) open the innings. That is the only thing that I have a problem with, but Pollard knows best (and) he is close to the players so we can’t criticise him...in hindsight people could criticise based on emotions, but you have to be a captain there to understand what’s going on and he went for experience and recent experience at that.”
Gray said Simmons would have been a better partner for Pollard in the super over, as he does not need time to settle down in an innings and he has the ability to play shots all around the ground. Gray had no problem with Pollard opening because of his destructive nature and he would have wanted Munro to bat at number three.
The former West Indies fast bowler said losing a match at this stage of the tournament can be useful.
“It is not a bad loss. In what we have seen in all the games collectively is that they have gone through different scenarios that will get them much informed for the latter games of the tournament...that game (against Patriots) was a tight game, it was nerve racking and the mental part of the game would’ve improved players, the stress of the game would have improved players.”
Gray said Pollard is doing an excellent job because of the number of injuries TKR have faced during the tournament. Dwayne Bravo will miss the entire tournament because of a finger injury, Darren missed the first four matches because of a concussion, Ali Khan missed two matches because of an ankle injury and Sunil Narine missed Tuesday night’s match because of a finger injury. Munro also missed the first three matches because he was on international duty with New Zealand. Gray also commended Pollard for his work with the TKR youngsters and rising to the challenge of captaincy after regular captain Dwayne was injured shortly before the start of the tournament.