Pollard urges young players to focus on professionalism over glamour

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By Akeem Greene

“Some of the things we thought that was important is not important; the last 12 months would have shown us,” Kieron Pollard, West Indies limited-overs captain, reasoned as he offered advice to younger Caribbean players.

“It is not about the designer stuff or being out there; it is about working hard, sacrificing, saving, thinking about the future, thinking about life after cricket.”

Pollard was speaking alongside Head Coach Phil Simmons during an interview with Cricket West Indies media.

The Trinidad and Tobago all-rounder took over West Indies white-ball leadership in October 2019, after not being selected for yet another failed World Cup campaign in recent years by West Indies.

He had not played an ODI in nearly three years, but has featured in T20Is regularly.

Since then he was won two ODI series – against Afghanistan and Ireland – and lost to India (both home and away) and Sri Lanka.

The only T20I success of the six series thus far, came against Sri Lanka in March this year.

West Indies’ Kieron Pollard plays a shot during the Twenty20 international cricket match between New Zealand and the West Indies at Eden Park in Auckland on November 27, 2020. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP via Getty Images)

Both of the limited over squads consist of young and promising talents, but according to the seasoned campaigner, the only way they will maximise that potential is if they make the necessary sacrifices.

“What we call professional, we just use that word, I don’t think we understand the meaning of it and once they understand that aspect of it, everything transcends and become one as a cricketer.”

The 33-year-old, who has played 113 One-Day Internationals, added, “Sometimes a guy’s life reflects how he plays on the cricket field indirectly and that is one of the things that affected us greatly in the past 15-20 years. Those sorts of conversations will help our youngsters to understand that success does not come overnight, we got to sacrifice a lot of things. Yes, it is not an 8 to 4 job, but we have to put in that amount of hours in order for us to do better as individuals.”

Pollard, one of the most successful T20 players in the world, felt players need to consistently keep working on their game, even in the off-season.

“When you leave tour, that is not it, you go home and you have to follow up; sometimes we go home relax and just turn up for another tour and these are the things we are trying to push.”

“We want regional coaches and everyone to understand that when these guys come out from regional cricket, we want them to be international cricketers, we don’t want them to have to learn a craft on the international scene which a lot of us has had to when we come on the international scene.”

West Indies recently toured New Zealand, and were completely outplayed by the hosts

Furthermore, Simmons felt it is important young players are educated about life skills and not just about the game.

“One thing we forget to mention is education; the more we educate our players and I am not talking cricket, I am talking life, school and everything like that. The more we educate our players the quicker they improve, the quicker they pick up things that we want them to learn, the quicker they understand their own games and be able to take it forward.”

He added, “I will continue to say, if you have two people who can bowl the same and one has been educated properly, the one who is educated is going to go further quicker. So we got to put things like that in place. When we find the talent, we got to make sure we have the right people working with them, the right coaches, the right messages coming and not trying to teach them to be the Caribbean but the best in the world in our sport.”

The Head Coach also touched on the need for better facilities and pitches, which will foster better development.

He drew a parallel to the exposure the young New Zealand A players got and the reflection in their strong defensive technique as compared to West Indies’ batsmen who develop on pitches with uneven bounce.

West Indies are coming off a winless tour in New Zealand- they lost two of three T20Is, the third was a no result, and they lost both Tests via innings defeat.

The A-team, which largely consisted of international players, lost both Four-Day matches to New Zealand A. Their next assignment is a two-Test and three-match ODI series in Bangladesh from mid-January.

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