Red Force captain Kieron Pollard has won numerous tournaments around the world, but after leading the TT franchise to the CG Insurance Super50 title on Saturday, he said nothing compared to winning for your country.
The 33-year-old has won the most T20 league titles in the world with 15, ahead of countryman Dwayne Bravo, who has 14.
Red Force demolished Guyana Jaguars on Saturday to end the tournament with an unblemished record of seven consecutive wins. TT had arguably the strongest team on paper including Lendl Simmons, Evin Lewis, Darren Bravo, Nicholas Pooran, Imran Khan, Sunil Narine, Ravi Rampaul, Jason Mohammed, Denesh Ramdin and Pollard.
It was the first Red Force Super50 title since 2016 and extended TT's dominance in the format with their thirteenth regional crown since the tournament began in the 1970s. Guyana are second with nine titles and Jamaica are third with eight.
In the final, Red Force scored a massive 362/5 batting first then limited Guyana Jaguars to 210 all out in 43.5 overs.
It was Pollard's first Super50 crown as captain of the Red Force. "It is special," Pollard said in the post-match interview.
"As I said, anything you want to do you want to do it to the best of your ability and I have been always honest and straightforward to the guys on how I want to play and how we should play as a team and that winning mentality. You go all around the world and you win titles, there is nothing better than winning for your country," he said.
Pollard's 15 T20 titles include five Indian Premier League titles with Mumbai Indians.
A despondent Guyana Jaguars captain Leon Johnson said his team did not deliver. “We weren’t on our A-game today,” he said. “I thought Red Force were better than us. I think the execution of our shots in the power-play really cost us.”
A beaming Pollard, known for his aggressive captaincy, said Red Force were eager to lift the title. "Winning is the only thing, let's get that straight. No matter what. Every time you get that opportunity to step on the cricket field you want to do well as an individual and as a team and you want to win. Thank God for giving us the opportunity to come out and to actually prove that we are the best team in the Caribbean this year."
Red Force dominated the awards in the tournament. Mohammed won the Sir Richie Richardson Award for most runs with 327 runs, followed by Lewis with 318 and Simmons with 316. The latter cracked 146 in Saturday's final. Pooran and Jaguars player Shimron Hetmyer shared the Gus Logie Award for the best fielder with seven catches each and wicket-keeper Ramdin and Windward Islands Volcanoes wicket-keeper Emmanuel Stewart shared the Jeff Dujon Award, completing nine dismissals each.
Jaguars spinner Gudakesh Motie earned the Sir Curtly Ambrose Award for the best bowler with 17 wickets, followed by Rampaul with 14 scalps. Jamaica Scorpions player Andre McCarthy took the Collis King Award for being the best all-rounder with 191 runs and eight wickets.
Asked if preparation or having an experienced squad propelled Red Force to the title, Pollard said, "I think a bit of both. Preparation was good. The guys were training since October. Yes, we had covid and then guys joined the team after playing different tournaments and then we actually left the team and went off to (the) Dubai T10 and we joined back together just before the start of the tournament. Kudos to the management staff and everybody back in Trinidad for the preparation and then we came here. (It was) just a matter of gelling together as a unit and coming out and playing good cricket."
Seven members of the Red Force 15-man squad competed in the Abu Dhabi T10, before returning to the squad days before the team's opening Super50 match on February 11.