Don’t go overboard with all-rounders

West Indies batsman talks about importance of specialists and room for associate nations at major events.

    Fill the specialists positions before anything, says Pollard [Getty Images]
    Fill the specialists positions before anything, says Pollard [Getty Images]

    So an awful lot has changed since the last time I was seen on these pages.

    England have been knocked out of the World Cup. Scores of 350-plus have become a regular occurrence. Chris Gayle smashed a double-century. AB de Villiers and Kumar Sangakkara have been in a league of their own.

    Break from FC cricket
    I haven’t quit totally but just taken a break from first-class cricket. Over the years, I haven’t played much four-day cricket. I haven’t been involved in Test cricket either.

    Last week, I felt my body needed a break, it needed to be looked after. You never know what the future holds but I thought it was better to take a step away and work on my fitness. 

    As things stand, I don’t have a timeline for my return to the longer format. I will play it by the ear. Much the same as my international career. I don’t know where it stands. For me, I take decisions as they come and in the best interest. 

    I still have ambition to play Test cricket but I don’t even know where things stand in terms of ODI and T20 for WI. I need to understand the procedures and the best way back for Pollard in both scenarios.

    There’s been so much to see.

    West Indies have been hot and cold though. The guys have been performing on and off and that’s what it has been like in the last couple of years, even when I was part of the team.

    It’s not ideal but what it does is that the opposition doesn’t know which team is going to turn up on the day.

    They’ve qualified for the quarters and will be playing New Zealand who have been in brilliant form. But if the real West Indies turn up on the day, they can roll New Zealand over. And vice versa if West Indies don’t perform well.

    Relying on Gayle

    Chris Gayle will, once again, be key for West Indies. He’s a world-class player, the world has high expectations and there is a perception that the team relies on him too much. I guess it looks like that when West Indies lose and he doesn’t perform. When we win and he doesn’t perform, it tells a different story but people miss that point sometimes.

    There are 10 other players and they are quietly putting up individual scores and effort. Take Jason Holder for example, he’s been scoring, taking wickets and leading the side. Doing it all quietly and serving the team well.

    All-rounders' role

    The role of an all-rounder is essential in cricket nowadays. They are necessary in each and every format. But at the end of the day, you still want specialists.

    Once you have filled certain and specific positions, that’s when the all-rounders come in. For example, a keeper who can bat up the order and clear space down the order where you can play an extra batsman or bowler or an all-rounder.

    West Indies have Gayle and Marlon Samuels. Those guys are specialist batsmen and can bowl. But lower down, we've played too many all-rounders. I guess you have to pick horses for courses. I think we’ve stuck to one basic combination right through. It hasn’t worked as well as hoped and when you look at it, they could’ve had some sort of specialist in there somewhere.

    You have Darren Sammy, Andre Russell and Holder. Three players who basically do the same thing. You have Ramdin batting higher up so you could have a specialist come in. But look at the squad. Where do you get one from? I guess that’s where the problem lies.

    The last couple of games, Sammy hasn’t bowled that much and he’s batting around the 7-8 spot. So maybe you could’ve played a specialist.

    So you play all-rounders but don’t overdo it. It can be make-or-break in a crunch match.


    Visit Al Jazeera's 2015 Cricket World Cup page for news, updates, features and comment pieces

    Which brings me to the duration of the tournament: Six weeks is not a concern but if you look at the scheduling, some teams play every 6-7 days. That becomes a long break. You don’t want to jam-pack it but you don’t want such a long break either.

    People get bored and the quality of cricket might drop. But I guess they are still trying to find the right format, the right mix. You won’t get the perfect format where everyone will be happy though.

    And when it comes to the decision to limit the 2019 World Cup to 10 nations, that’s something that the ICC has decided.

    Some of the associate nations have done themselves proud and surprised a lot of people. But their inconsistency is on show at times when they play 2-3 good games and then 2-3 bad games. When they play well, they give top teams a run for their money. So the backing keeps swaying given their performance on the field.

    It’s a catch-22 situation.

    It’s crunch time now but I will stay away from making predictions. They have good teams left in the tournament. India’s playing well, Australia and New Zealand are at home. It’s a tricky one to call. I won’t put my finger on anyone and will play it safe: May the best team win.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera



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