RED FORCE coach David Furlonge and TT Cricket Board (TTCB) general secretary Altaf Baksh believe Nicholas Pooran’s decision to step down as West Indies white-ball captain should relieve some pressure off the wicketkeeper/batsman and allow him to enhance his overall game.
Pooran, 27, relinquished his role at the helm of the West Indies One-Day International and T20I teams on Monday. He served just six months as skipper after being appointed in May, on the heels of compatriot Kieron Pollard’s international retirement.
Last year and earlier this year, Pooran led the West Indies to a 4-1 T20I series win against Australia at home in the Caribbean.
Overall, Pooran led the team in 17 ODIs and 23 T20Is, recording series wins against the Netherlands (ODI 3-0) and Bangladesh (T20I 2-0).
However, at the T20 World Cup in Australia last month, the two-time winners West Indies were eliminated early on and did not advance to the Super 12 knockout stage.
As Red Force coach, Furlonge spent the past month working with TT’s Super50 captain Pooran and his troops. He coached them to the final but lost by three wickets to Jamaica Scorpions.
Pooran had a shaky start in the early stages of the tournament but found his footing mid-way through and went on to score two unbeaten knocks of 56 and 99, and also earned his second A class century by scoring 111 runs from 82 balls.
Furlonge believes his time away from leading the regional setup should have a positive impact on the in-form cricketer.
“The T20 World Cup would have impacted on that decision. I thought he had a very good Super50, as far as his batting is concerned, and then we lost the final.
“I believe that there were a lot of positives coming out of the Super50 and possibly he is seeing that his batting is on the rise and his focus is on that asset he possesses, his batting skills. I think that he wants to focus on that now.
“The two (captaincy and batting) did not seem to be working together,” Furlonge said.
Furlonge also worked with Pooran at Queen’s Park Cricket Club before he was appointed coach in December 2020.
The TT coach, however, said he was “surprised” Pooran stepped down but happy the player chose to focus on his personal development.
“I support his decision. I’m sure it was a hard one to make. He thought it best for him and for West Indies cricket. Once his game can improve and keep going upward then that will be helpful to West Indies cricket also.
“Captaining a West Indies side is never easy, whether you’re successful or not. Without that burden on his shoulders, he must feel relieved a little bit. I think he will be more comfortable now playing, now he can relax and play his cricket.
“I think we would. As long as he’s comfortable and happy in the environment he’s playing in, he will be better and perform,” Furlonge added.
Similarly, Baksh thinks Pooran made the right decision to walk away from such a demanding role. Baksh hopes the TT white-ball skipper makes full use of his time away from captaincy and invests it back into his development.
“I think he may get a little mental ease and he can place more emphasis on his batting and continuing the good form he had at the Super50. The ICC Cricket World Cup (50-over) is next year and he would want to be in the mix of things, at the best with his batting.
“He’s world-class and ranked very high in the world in his batting. Maybe he needs more time to gather more experience to get back into the captaincy. I don’t think it’s a foregone conclusion as captaincy is concerned,” Baksh said.
On relinquishing his role as regional captain, Pooran said he is “not giving up,” but believes “it’s in the best interests of the team” and for him “personally.”
In a statement issued by Cricket West Indies (CWI) on Monday, Pooran said he gave the captaincy a “great deal of thought” since their T20 World Cup exit.
He hopes their performance there does not “define” the regional team and said he was ready to “get involved in the upcoming reviews.”
This comes after CWI, on Thursday, installed an independent panel of professionals to conduct a comprehensive review of the team’s dismal World Cup performance.
The panel features West Indies batting legend Brian Lara, South African Mickey Arthur and Justice Patrick Thompson Jr – a High Court judge at the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
Pooran said, “I remain ambitious and still view the captaincy of West Indies cricket as an honour that is bestowed upon you. There is no doubt I remain fully committed to West Indies cricket and I look forward to providing my services as a senior player in a supportive role.”
He plans to concentrate on what he can deliver to the regional side as a player.
“I desperately want us to be successful and the most value I can give to the team is through fully focusing on the role of consistently scoring runs at crucial times.
“I am very thankful to CWI for the opportunity and faith shown in me and for the support that I have received (from) our devoted fans since taking the role, and to my teammates who have worked so hard as well. I know we have it in us to carry West Indies cricket forward and be proud.”
CWI director of cricket Jimmy Adams thanked Pooran for leading the two teams.
Adams said, “On behalf of CWI I want to thank Nicholas for his time leading our white-ball teams. Having spoken with him I know he remains fully committed to West Indies cricket and I am convinced he has a big role to play in our future.”