MUMBAI (Reuters) – Kieron Pollard last turned out for West Indies in a one-day international in 2016 but the burly all-rounder has not given up hope of making the squad for this year’s World Cup.
Contractual disputes between the players and Cricket West Indies have weakened the team for several years now with the frosty relations famously culminating in the 2014 tour of India being called off midway through the series.
There have been signs of a thaw recently, however, with a new leadership team in place at the board and former captain Chris Gayle returning to the ODI side for the recent series against England in a big boost ahead of the World Cup.
Pollard, like Gayle famed for his six-hitting prowess, returned to the West Indies fold after a year out to join the Twenty20 team for the three-match series in India last year.
“I am a cricketer, I am 31 years of age and I have lot of cricket left in me,” Pollard told reporters after smashing 83 off 31 balls against Kings XI Punjab to lead the Mumbai Indians to a thrilling last-ball win on Wednesday.
“Every day I get the opportunity to play, I want to do my best. There has been a lot of turmoil in West Indies cricket over the last couple of years. But we have seen in the last couple of weeks there’s a change.
“Pollard was one of the guys blacklisted. The most I can do every time I step on the cricket field is try to put runs on the board. There’s people there who have the job to select and whatever and we’ll see how that goes.
“As I said, I’m 31, Chris Gayle is still playing, he’s 39, and he’s still whacking it all around.”
Leading Mumbai in the absence of injured regular captain Rohit Sharma, Pollard helped his side to an unlikely win chasing Punjab’s 197-4, which was built on an unbeaten 100 from KL Rahul and a typically punishing 63 from Gayle.
Pollard belted 10 sixes and three fours in his knock for Mumbai’s fourth win in six matches this season, after they needed 104 off the last eight overs.
West Indies have proved in this year’s IPL that they have no shortage of short-form matchwinners at their disposal in the likes of Pollard, Gayle, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell.
The twice world champions could therefore be a tough prospect for any opponent at the May 30-July 14 World Cup in England and Wales.
“We know what we can do and I think Chris batted superbly,” Pollard said.
“A fellow West Indian is (Andre) Russell… he’s smacking the ball and it’s great to see the way he’s hitting the ball and (Sunil) Narine.
“These guys are having a good tournament and again it’s just about enjoying cricket, when your mind is free, you just go out and enjoy cricket.
“You don’t think about much because there are a lot of opinions, there are a lot of things, but it’s people as close to you and what they think matters.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Nick Mulvenney)