West Indies Twenty20 captain Kieron Pollard was philosophical about the criticism leveled at the composition of the squad for the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup, starting on Sunday in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Oman.
The selection of the squad has come under fire from the man in the street all the way up to political leaders around the Caribbean with the form, fitness and suitability for several senior players drawing condemnation.
“One thing I realise in life, and I have come to understand is that no matter what you do, you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t, so even if you pick John Browne, Jim Doe or Tim, we will have criticism whatever you do,” he said during an online media conference on Tuesday.
“We do well, we still get it, so for us, we’re focussing on the task at hand, and this is the group of guys that we have, and this is the group of guys we have selected to go and try to defend the World Cup, so it is what it is.”
Pollard also brushed aside concerns about the form of the batsmen in the team, many of whom have been playing in the Indian Premier League (IPL) in the UAE on the same pitches that will be used for the World Cup.
“Those who did not take part in the IPL would have had some time off and some guys would have come (from the Caribbean) and had time to reflect during quarantine and looking forward to a big World Cup tournament,” he said.
“If we look too much into the past, I think that is where we get ourselves sometimes in trouble, so let’s deal with the present. The guys that have confidence, we will roll with them, and the guys that don’t, we will try to get them into that zone during our practice sessions, we have got warm-up games and the big one, the World Cup.
“I am not too concerned because I know when it comes to international cricket and the international stage, we all have individual pride, and we all want to show what we have to offer.”
Pollard will be taking part in his first World Cup – either One-day or T20 Internationals – for the first time in seven years.
He missed the last two ODI World Cups in 2015 and 2019 because of non-selection and the 2016 T20 World Cup with injury.
Pollard said he has been struggling with moving from one bio-secure bubble to the next and threw his support behind the decision of veteran batsman Chris Gayle to take a break from the IPL ahead of the World Cup.
“I’m guessing that recharge was just like those iPhones, when the battery is low, and you want to get some energy into you,” he said with a chuckle. “In all seriousness, this bubble life is very, very difficult at times.
“Guys have moved straight from playing the home series, into CPL (Caribbean Premier League), then into IPL and into a World Cup. Sometimes you need a break as a cricketer and as an individual and I don’t think enough attention is being placed on mental health for sportsmen and us cricketers at this time with all this bubble [life].”
He added: “I’m fighting. I’m trying to look beyond certain things. As an individual, sometimes it tends to get to you, not being able to be free, leaving one tournament and going straight into the next. It’s a bit difficult at times, [but] we have a job at hand. We have something very, very important coming up in the next couple of weeks and it’s something that we as a team are looking forward to.
“As the leader of the team, I try to gear myself and get myself in the best shape and the best order mentally, physically, and emotionally, so I can lead to the best of my ability. I look forward to this World Cup.
“Obviously, I haven’t played a World Cup in a long time, so I think that’s my motivating factor. To be able to come and represent West Indies in a major tournament is something that I’m looking forward to, and hopefully, we can put everything aside and turn out some very, very good performances.”
West Indies open the T20 World Cup against England on October 23 in Dubai in a rematch of 2016 final.
They have been drawn in Group 1 and will also play group matches against recent opponents South Africa and Australia, as well as two teams that advance from qualifying matches in the first week of the tournament.