Why the West Indies are really better off without Pooran, the captain. But who’s next?
Nicholas Pooran recently stepped down as West Indies' white-ball captain
In more ways than one has Nicholas Pooran stepping down from captaincy a harbinger of great news for the West Indies. And that’s not just about Pooran, the talent; rather about the question of the future of a team world cricket still cares for very much - the West Indies.
For starters, Pooran would loved to have continued as captain. But can he lead by example and inspire his troops, which a team so unpardonably sullied by inconsistency, needs?
And needs urgently right now?
Make no mistake.
Pooran is a fine man. Nice guy. Of that there’s little doubt.
But it may not be wise to presume that nice guys, unless you’re Rahul Dravid or Kane Williamson, finish first.
Second, Pooran’s not even had a long run at the helm of West Indies white ball captaincy to prove results, to be fair.
But again, such luxury isn’t what the West Indies can afford given just how pathetic their rankings in white ball cricket really are.
And here’s an evidence - in ODI cricket, the West Indies are currently ninth on the table and right ahead of Afghanistan, Ireland, Scotland and Ireland in that order.
In T20I’s, which has long been considered their forte, the Caribbean trailblazers, who not to forget are two-time World Champions, currently find themselves on the seventh spot.
Putting all the blame on Pooran would be something as foolish as expecting Tendulkar to come out retirement and best Wasim Akram’s tally of ODI wickets.
Maybe fiction can still afford that space to the “God,” for real life, luckily, works on common sense and logic.
And possessing Forrest Gump—style common sense dictates that the World Champs are not even in the top five in a format where what first began as captivating headlines - big biceps, bling wearing bowler destructors - have today become a cliche.
Is that not right?
How does Nicholas Pooran, now, erstwhile captain of West Indies white ball cricket justify the team’s performance in the recent T20 World Cup?
But again, one supposes, it’s what the left hander has done - or not done - up to this point that may have led to so lowly results that have led to him stepping down.
Surely, diplomacy can be used for covering Pooran’s captaincy stint so far. But what is one to do when the number of series defeats far outweigh the number of drops in the Atlantic Ocean.
In a year where things couldn’t have been any worse than Windies losing an ODI series to Ireland and that too in the Caribbean, the incorrigible side found a way to win 1 contest out of 6 and that too, against an India minus Kohli, Rahul and Bumrah.
India under the leadership of Shikhar Dhawan
Imagine the plight of their evergreen heroes; how would a Lara, for instance, have felt when at his own homeground, the Windies lost an ODI by 68 runs to India?
This horrible loss in the five match series T20I was just the starter of the ignominy the West Indies were to incur.
But truth be told, a 68-run loss to any side, regardless of stature in T20I is equivalent to a 100 run-loss in a one dayer.
Nevertheless, it’s not Pooran’s inability to reverse the tide for his side that has led to the current scenario; his 81 runs from five games against an opponent against whom he ought to have done better, was a case in point.
And the point is that the attacking batsman who can both blow an attack perhaps doesn’t remember that he can blown away by it as well.
Here’s an example. Earlier this year in India, Pooran joined forces with his deputy Rovman Powell and all but took the game away from India.
In the same match where Kohli’s 52 off 41 and later, Pant’s blinder of a knock guided India to 186, Pooran’s 62 off 41 (ten more then Kohli’s), took the Windies nearly over the line.
Powell, on his part, was at his destructive best: his 68 came off 36 deliveries.
But that’s exactly where the Windies hurt rests and precisely also where, Pooran’s accountability as captain rests.
He ought to remember that a series’ result is his answerability.
Which is why while he can and must appreciate his batting in India, as a player, his horrible captaincy in the T20 World Cup can’t evade critical appreciation or response as they say.
The saddest part being that purely as a batsman his 2022 average of 29, supported by 583 runs from 23 matches cannot he doubted and must not be critiqued.
But has he, as captain, performed in crunch situations for the West Indies?
It’s the very batsman who, we ought to remember, fired a blistering 74 off just 39 and remained unbeaten in doing so at the Providence stadium in Guyana.
That was against Bangladesh.
Pooran in an ODI vs Bangladesh in 2022
But when the need arrives to fire against the big teams, he’s found wanting.
And that’s not only true in crunch T20 games, not to mention the World Cup contests where the West Indies who fired a half century was Brandon King, while the Windies captain’s scores were objectionable - 5, 7 and 13.
If his inconsistencies aren’t yet evident then the following may, just may, roll the dice:
In each of the three ODI’s versus The Netherlands, Pooran failed horribly with the bat and that too, against spin. Falling, as a matter of fact, to read the line of the ball and that too versus the same spinner.
A series win did come albeit in a usual west Indian huffing and puffing way thanks to centuries by Shai Hope and company and decent outings by the spirited Keacy Carty.
But even in the series against Pakistan, Pooran, the captain and the batsman, was found wanting. Once again, his overly attacking instincts came in between periods of play where he was better off staying calm instead of going for one big shot too many.
We ought to remember the West Indies lost each and every game under his leadership on that dismal tour where not in any game did it look that the West Indies lacked the talent or ability to overcome one of the best sub continental sides that there is.
So where do the West Indies go from here?
It’s simple. They must go from strength to strength but they truly have taken the first right step in that direction of rebuilding, if they’re any serious about it, which was anyways to see themselves in the mirror.
Now they they have, who’s the right man for the tough job? Powell, anyone?