WEST Indies and Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) captain Kieron Pollard reflected on his career in a Knights unplugged interview, saying the 2009 Champions League T20 tournament was the stepping stone for not only his career but the careers of several TT cricketers.
Pollard, who also discussed TKR, West Indies cricket and covid19, reflected on the tournament more than ten years ago that placed TT in the spotlight.
After winning the Regional T20 tournament in 2008, TT qualified to compete at the inaugural Champions League T20 tournament in India in 2009.
TT finished second in the Champions League featuring the best “club” teams from around the world. TT lost to New South Wales, of Australia, by 41 runs in the final, but their performances excited and thrilled not only TT but the world. Pollard ended the competition as the fifth-highest run-scorer with 146 runs at an average of 36.50 which included one fifty.
The team, led by Daren Ganga, included players relatively unknown or players at the start of their illustrious careers including Dwayne Bravo, Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin, Sunil Narine and Pollard himself.
“Getting the opportunity in 2009 as a TT team I think was a defining moment for me in my career and for other TT cricketers,” Pollard said.
Pollard made his debut for West Indies in 2007, but he was inconsistent during his first two years on the international cricket scene.
The stage was set for Pollard and the other local cricketers to prove on the world stage what they were worth.
Pollard said not much attention was on TT.
“We knew when we got there they would not take us seriously because (we were) little guys from TT going into a world tournament where all the other leagues and players were well established and they have proper structure…but we knew what we could have done.”
Pollard said Ganga was a strong leader and coupled with international experience in the squad they aimed to go the distance in the tournament.
“We were under the leadership of Daren Ganga, who did an instrumental job with us in that period in TT cricket. We had Dwayne Bravo, the only player at that point in time from the TT team to play in the IPL (Indian Premier League), so we had that experience. We had guys who had played a lot of international cricket before that as well and guys looking for that exposure, so everyone was on sort of a mission to try to achieve something in that tournament.”
The West Indies 50-Over and T20 captain said the team put TT on the map and the second-place finish was followed by a hat-trick of regional T20 titles before the Caribbean Premier League began in 2013.
“Everyone had a goal at the beginning of that tournament and from the time we set foot in India and we started to play we stunned a lot of people in that 2009 Champions League. Although we did not win and it was disappointing, we could have won, but I thought that it was the right step for us for what was left to transpire in the next couple years ahead.”