I was quite happy to witness the Trinidad Knight Riders clash against the Barbados Royals at the Queen’s Park Oval on September 6. My interest centred on the first meeting in Barbados, when the home team suffered a catastrophic collapse to lose by the biggest margin ever recorded in the Caribbean Premier League. In that game TKR managed 184/5 in their 20 overs, while the Royals struggled and were dismissed for 61.
That shocking, unexpected result was sure to spur on the Barbadians to reverse the embarrassment when they visited Trinidad, hence ensuring a match that would promise a tough fight to the finish. In T20 franchise cricket I quite often seek out situations to enjoy, because otherwise it’s really just a slog festival.
Also, it was a game that both teams had to win in order to improve their chances to place in the top four, as they were lying in the lower half of the table, along with St. Kitts & Nevis Patriots.
The night before this game, TKR lost to Guyana Amazon Warriors, whose appearances revealed that they would be the side to beat. They’re the best all-round team in the competition and showing it.
However, previously, they have played in five finals and have not won the trophy once. It seems that they always choke at the final hurdle.
Back to the game last Wednesday. The Royals sent TKR to bat after winning the toss. Skipper Kieron Pollard, after going in at number seven in the previous game against Guyana, pushed himself up the batting order to number four, which is better suited to him, as he can dictate the pace of his fellow batsmen and lead the charge from there.
When Pollard entered, Nicholas Pooran was not out at the other end. The skipper is usually exciting to look at, but seemed lethargic on the day, and one sensed that he was a bit jaded from the regular cricket games plus practice sessions. Nevertheless, there’s always a sense of excitement when Polly is at the wicket.
Then, suddenly, with his score at two, the ball came off the inside edge and went to the fieldsman at fine leg – the normal position, not deep. Pooran took off for a single. Pollard started, then stopped, not heeding Pooran’s pleading for him to run. There was a complete misunderstanding and Pollard was out, never getting back in his crease in time while his younger partner, at full pelt, couldn’t stop and was in the striker’s crease before his captain could get back there.
The confusion continued and Pooran, thinking he was out, marched for the pavilion, visibly upset. The umpires, not sure whether the batsmen had crossed, referred the decision and it was confirmed that the skipper was out. When it was reviewed, it was clear as day that the captain was the one who was out. A bad wicket to lose.
Could the out-of-form Pooran make up for the loss of his skipper? He did so boldly, with panache.
The run-out incident made the young man recognise his responsibility to himself and his team. Lately, he has not been batting as well as his ability demands; this time, upset by his captain’s dismissal, although not his fault, he appreciated how much depended on him at that time to make up for the loss of the skipper. After all, he was the one batting with Pollard at the time of that disaster. He must have told himself, ‘”Whose fault it is doesn’t count now, it’s the team score that matters.”
Pooran batted beautifully. His fierce concentration was apparent, his technique faultless. He built his innings around orthodox strokes and minimal risk. Blessed with tremendous co-ordination and ball sense, he showed what he could produce with the right approach and the will to win, a requisite factor for the winning of matches, and thus tournaments.
I always thought with his natural ability he should be producing many more innings like this splendid one that he played against the Royals.
However, he needs to be motivated to bat properly, using his talent to make runs every time he bats, be consistent for his team and to realise that to perform at his best, he must accept the responsibility and never leave it for others to do. He has to be aware of who he is in the world of cricket and become dependable.
Only maturity will reflect his true ability.