I was very much involved with Kieron Pollard’s early days at Queen’s Park Cricket Club. He was part of a group of young cricketers that Paul Clarke, a loyal teacher at Tranquillity Government Secondary School and cricket enthusiast, would send to the club annually, in October, when the club had its screening of cricket talent, for those interested in joining as cricket colt members.
Pollard’s group was evaluated in 2002.
Needless to say, he was accepted. At that time, his bowling caught the eye more than his batting did. In the indoor nets, with its shortened bowlers’ run-up, the already six-foot-tall Pollard, a well-built young man, looked menacing. However, his batting talent emerged. Recognition grew swiftly that he was a superb timer of the ball who played in an orthodox manner with a straight bat. A natural cricketer, he learnt quickly.
His fielding was exceptional. His ground fielding was safe and sure, his throws to the wicket were powerful and direct and lots of the catches he took were spectacular. There was no one better.
He approached the sport with love and passion, always sure of himself. From his early days, he was a student of the game. He was always seeking advice and would discuss all aspects of cricket with anyone who was interested.
Kieron developed quickly. He was soon on the club’s under-21 team, which he eventually led. I recall a 100 he scored at the Oval. The century was decorated with seamless sixes and flawless fours.
This reminds me of an amusing story that took place that day.
The pavilion at the Oval was being rebuilt and there were five or six men working on the roof while Pollard was batting.
During his innings, the powerful right-hander started slapping straight sixes with impeccable timing. It was just effortless straight drives. He was on the cusp of being 19 years old, and no one had ever heard of him.
Suddenly, these men began taking cover, as the balls were landing on the open roofing. They downed tools and took shelter in the pavilion until Pollard was no longer at the crease.
I went to have a chat with them afterwards and one of them asked me to identify the hard-hitting batsman. I told him. He replied, “He should be playing for WI. He nearly kill we!” Laughter.
A year later, he was playing for the WI, after being chosen in the squad for World Cup 2007.
In 2009, certain events fell into place to offer Pollard a big future in the game which he grabbed with open arms. The organisers of the Indian Premier League (IPL) decided to have a Champions’ T20 League for all Test-playing countries.
WI were not invited because the WI Cricket Board never had a T20 tournament, and hence did not have a champion to send.
However, a team under the captaincy of Daren Ganga, with Colin Borde as manager, was accepted, after the intervention of the president of the TTCB, Deryck Murray.
He explained there was a T20 tournament, organised by Allen Stanford, which TT had won, and the IPL accepted that, to ensure representation from the WI. TT reached the final, against the New South Wales Blues of Australia. Although losing the game, they were a huge hit at the event.
Pollard emerged as the star. He was snapped up by Mumbai Indians, where he’s still revered.
Because of the excellent cricketer he is, it was only logical that a number of responsibilities would be thrust upon him through the years.
They have taken their toll. The exasperation of the pandemic. The heavy obligation of captaincy. The burden of having to play during lockdowns. The worry of injury and its effect.
These were serious matters that Pollard had to address. The expectations of his fans cannot be discounted.
His performances in the recent past have been disappointing, yet Pollard’s fans still adore him and would always turn up with the hope that today he’ll play one of his fantastic innings and win the match for them. They will always view him like a lit fuse waiting to explode.
Unfortunately, at present, he’s a tired man. Too much to handle on his broad shoulders. Plus the common problem of all top-class international sportsmen is burnout and exhaustion.
Hopefully, all he needs is a few months off, to spend with family, return, and play another three or four years. WI will miss him.
After adequate rest, he’ll remain a tiger in franchises around the world.