THE TRINBAGO Knight Riders (TKR) won the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) thrice, and once in their previous incarnation as Red Steel. The four times combined constitutes the most successful winners’ row appearances in the competition after ten tournaments.
They plunged to last in the contest for the first time in 2022.
The captain, Kieron Pollard, has to do some analysis in order to understand what caused the wheels to come off.
He cannot leave it to the coach, Abhishek Nayar, who does not seem to have fitted in with his team. He made a few statements that I believe reveal he did not have sufficient time to adjust to the players and organise them into a unit that could be motivated. Many coaches seem to make the same mistake. They have the big names and expect the player to take it from there. To mould the team, one has to get to know each individual and understand what makes them tick.
A cricketer like Pollard has been through it all and understands what is required of him. However, he loses sight of the needs of individuals who do not have his experience, fame or ability, and must be coached in how to improve performance through flexibility and practice.
Therefore, while he may be leaving the proper instruction up to the coach, it's a mistake to believe the player at this level of cricket would automatically know the right approach for every situation; it is not like that at all.
Pollard’s biggest recent loss was Dwayne Bravo, who departed in order to lead the St Kitts and Nevis Patriots in 2021. And he had been with the TKR since they were Red Steel.
At the formation of TKR, the administrators of that team, in order to strengthen their side, brought in Pollard and Narine from other franchises in the IPL so that together there would be strong representation from TT.
The atmosphere of a winning team is unique and one must be careful when making adjustments. Nonetheless, the hierarchy, including the coach and captain, thought it necessary to bring in two more top-flight players to strengthen their team, Nicholas Pooran and Andre Russell.
The entire team seemed beaten from early. At no time were they upbeat. There was no existing spirit.
But here is where overconfidence exists. Nayar proclaimed: “In terms of what we have this season, we’ve got a stronger unit. Nicholas Pooran obviously strengthens our batting a lot.”
He added of explosive all-rounder Russell: “It's always good to have someone like that in the team, just adding power to the likes of Polly and Pooran to our side. We’ve always believed in having a side with a lot of power in terms of batting.”
The new TKR coach added, “Russell’s bowling also adds a lot more value and a different dimension to the way we set our team up…Russ gives us a lot of flexibility with what we want to do as a side.
“Unless something goes drastically wrong, we are a team that tries to stick to those combinations and we don’t enjoy making too many changes. We try to play a certain brand of cricket with the same specific players and we totally believe our players are capable enough to adapt and achieve success in every condition."
Then he goes on and on about building our young players and how he looks forward to working with them.
The TKR, after all this pretentious verbiage, came in dead last in a competition of six teams. However, that is the cycle of sport.
What surprises me, though, is the idea of a coach not being aware that a cricket game (or most sports for that matter) can contain many surprises. But that is especially the nature of cricket, when predictions are much more doubtful: they're called glorious uncertainties.
The introduction of Russell and Pooran at no time uplifted the TKR side and I could see why, after reading the conceited, pretentious and cocky utterances of the new coach on the potential of his TKR team in 2022.
We never heard a whisper from Nayar after their embarrassing hammering.
On the other hand, the Jamaica Tallawahs, a team taking nothing for granted, were a fighting unit with no pretensions, well led by the serious, earnest and thoughtful captaincy of Rovman Powell, at no time flippant, irresponsible, or casual. They approached the game the right way.