“We won two World Cups without getting singles” – West Indies vice-captain says power-hitting will still be big on the team’s agenda
Nicholas Pooran has admitted to feeling that he had let himself down during IPL 2021, but insisted that he was “not concerned at all” about his form ahead of the T20 World Cup.
“The IPL is gone. It’s done for me,” he said, speaking from West Indies’ training base in Dubai. “I just have to refocus and go again. I know personally [that] I’ve let myself down in terms of not sticking with my process long enough. I felt like I rushed the results a lot and I paid the price. You could see that in my scores. It’s just for me to refocus now, hit the nets, work hard and plan again – simple as that.”
Pooran, West Indies’ vice-captain for the World Cup, made 85 runs at an average of 7.72 playing for Punjab Kings in the IPL this season, a stark contrast to his record in 2020, in which he averaged 35.30 with a strike rate of 169.71 across 14 innings. He made 32 off 22 in his first innings of the IPL’s UAE leg, but managed 25 runs in his next four innings.
He said that his record in West Indies’ home summer and in the CPL for Guyana Amazon Warriors indicated that his poor run in the IPL was simply a blip, and that he had faced so few balls in the tournament that his record could not be called “form”.
“I’m not concerned at all,” he said. “My cricket is based on confidence and my intent. I left the first half of the season scoring what, 20 runs in five, six, seven games [28 runs in six innings]. I came and did decent in the last three series for West Indies and in CPL. It’s about my process, continuing to believe in my process, having faith in my process, and my confidence is very high. I have no doubts in my mind that I can execute my gameplan and do good for the team.
“It’s just games. A lot of sportsmen and a lot of cricketers have bad times but that’s fine. All cricketers do have that patch and come out of it. I wouldn’t say it’s a patch for me. I came to the second half of IPL batting really good for West Indies and Guyana in CPL. To me, it’s not form. When you think about it, I haven’t really faced much balls in all honesty. It’s just for me to give myself a chance.”
Pooran added that while West Indies were focused on playing “smart cricket” at the World Cup and were looking to improve their strike rotation ahead of the tournament, they would not sway far from their primary strength: hitting sixes.
“For the last couple of months, in the three series in the Caribbean [against South Africa, Australia and Pakistan], everything was about ‘singles, singles, singles’,” Pooran said. “We spoke about it and chatted about it. We have players that play certain roles but as a batting group we want to get better, we want to improve.
“Yes, singles are a part of the game, but our focus is not too much on singles. We won two World Cups with the same problem, to be honest: not getting singles, but yet still we won two World Cups. I don’t think the emphasis is on getting singles. It’s more about intent – intent and playing smart cricket, that’s it.
“There are times that we know we’ll have to put egos aside and grind deep for the team. If that’s batting a dot ball or trying to get a single, we’ll do that. We have net sessions and match scenarios when we try to play to our strengths but also play to the conditions, which is finding how to get a single or working out how to get a single. We are working. We’re not the best at getting singles but it’s a work in process and we believe in our process and our team.”
During the last T20 World Cup, which West Indies won thanks to Carlos Brathwaite’s four successive sixes off Ben Stokes in the last over of the final against England, Pooran was recovering from the car crash that left him with career-threatening injuries, and described his inclusion in the upcoming tournament – and his role as vice-captain – as a “proud moment”.
“It’s a big achievement for me,” he said. “I remember in the last World Cup, I was not recovered from my injury. I was always thinking about T20 World Cup – I wanted to be part of a T20 World Cup. Processing it now, it’s a big achievement for me, being vice-captain. It was never one of my goals to be a West Indies captain or vice-captain but it’s my job, and I’m happy I can contribute in any way, supporting Polly [Kieron Pollard] and the coach. It’s a proud moment for me and my family.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98