CRICKET: Can Nicholas Pooran Do For the West Indies What Eon Morgan Has Done For England! – By Tony McWatt

By Tony McWatt

Nicholas Pooran

Now that he has been appointed captain of the West Indies ODI and T20 teams, Trinidad-born Nicholas Pooran might be seeking to emulate the outstanding accomplishments of England’s white-ball cricket skipper Eon Morgan. The question to be asked and answered is, can he?

Eoin Morgan’s tenure as England’s white-ball captain began ignominiously with the team having endured a most disappointing campaign at the 2015 ICC World Cup. Since then, however, Morgan has led England to championship victory at the 2019 ODI World Cup. The country’s first captain to ever do so.

Morgan was also at the helm for England’s top-four finishes at the 2016 and 2021 T20 World Cups. Indeed, since 2015 and under Morgan’s leadership, England has also been consistently ranked among the world’s top three teams in both of the ODI and T20 formats.         

There have been several key factors that have contributed to Morgan’s achievement of the outstanding success he has enjoyed as England’s white- ball captain. Factors which if Pooran is to achieve anywhere close to the same degree of success will have to be replicated.

The first of such factors was Morgan’s determination, following the 2015 World Cup disaster, to fashion an England team that would become recognized and respected for playing a very bold brand of cricket. Under Morgan’s leadership England would play fearlessly and courageously, impervious to pressure, praise or criticism. Regardless of whether the matches they played resulted in wins or losses.

Secondly, Morgan has sought to lead from the front. In addition to gaining the respect of his players with his demonstrated inner strength, unflappable coolness under pressure and tactical nous he’s also often chipped in with match-winning innings of his own at crucial times.

As a left-handed batsman with a well-established reputation for inventive and audacious stroke play, Morgan has often assumed the role of the team’s finisher. Entering proceedings at a pivotal point of an innings to either guide his team to establishing a formidable score or when chasing doing what it takes to secure victory.

Morgan himself has suggested that another vital component of England’s enjoyed success, perhaps even the most important of all, has been its bench strength. Having a reserve core of players, almost as equally talented as those on the starting XI, readily available and constantly challenging for inclusion has been a major factor in determining England’s white-ball cricket success to date since 2015.

Nicholas Pooran – Career Statistics from ESPNCrininfo.com

So what of Pooran? What can Caribbean cricket fans realistically expect of his captaincy for the duration of its initial tenure? The time frame for which has been established to be from now until the conclusion of the Caribbean hosted 2024 ICC T20 World Cup.

Certainly, in terms of his own batting prowess, Pooran has already proven himself to be fully capable of being equally as inventive and audacious as Morgan has been. His batting exploits have resulted in him having long since become one of the most sought after players in international T20 cricket. He has also at times played some crucial ODI innings for the West Indies.

Still just only 26 years of age, Pooran has to date scored 1193 runs from 50 T20I innings batted, at a relatively respectable average of 27.74 and at an impressive strike rate of 128.97. He has also scored 8 fifties. Pooran excelled with the bat in his last international assignment, in India earlier this year, averaging 61.33 with a strike rate of 140.45 across three T20Is.

Pooran’s statistics from his West Indies ODI appearances to date are even more impressive. 1121 runs scored from 34 innings batted at a very healthy 40.03 average and inclusive of 1 century and 8 fifties.

The hope for all West Indies team fans and followers will be for the responsibilities of captaincy to have a most positive effect on Pooran’s batting. Injudicious stroke play has, arguably, been the main cause of the majority low scores he has produced so far in his career. Hopefully, now that he has been signed the added responsibilities as captain, such poor judgment will be ruled out almost entirely.

Pooran has also already demonstrated his competencies as a tactician. In Keiron Pollard’s injury-enforced absence, he led West Indies to an impressive 4-1 Home Series victory against Australia last year.

Having also served as Pollard’s vice-captain for many years, Pooran’s understanding of the requirements of captaincy both on and off the field would have benefitted tremendously from that experience. Along with the demonstrated self-confidence he possesses in his own abilities, he should, therefore, be fully capable of fashioning West Indies white-ball teams of his own making. In much the same manner as Morgan has done.

The extent to which he can duplicate Morgan’s success will, however, ultimately be dependent upon the personnel he has at his disposal. As captain, Pooran will be inheriting West Indies ODI and T20 I teams that have lost, through retirement, such talented and experienced practitioners as Chris Gayle, Dwayne Bravo, Pollard himself and quite possibly both Andre Russell and Sunil Narine as well.

On the bright side, however, Pooran will in Shimron Hetmeyer and Jason Holder have along with himself three undeniably world-class players at his disposal. There are others, notably Alzharri Joseph and Obed McCoy, who now also seem to be on the threshold of being legitimately regarded as world-class players.

As this year’s IPL’s draft recruitment by its ten participating franchises revealed there are also several other West Indies players, the likes of Fabian Allen, Evan Lewis, Kyle Mayers, Rovman Powell, Sherfayne Rutherford, Romario Shepherd and Odean Smith who are sufficiently talented to provide Pooran with a core group that can be moulded into a very competitive squad. Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, Brandon King, Jayden Seales, Hayden Walsh are among those non-IPL 2022 recruited players that will also be available for Pooran to call on.

In the Most Honorable Desmond Haynes as Selection Chair and Ramnaresh Sarwan as Co-Selector, Pooran will also enjoy the benefit of having two very astute individuals identifying additional talented players for inclusion in the West Indies teams he leads. In support of Pooran’s captaincy, Cricket West Indies (CWI) must, however, also seek ways and means of widening the pool of emerging talented players that can be available for the three-member Selection Panel, comprised of Haynes, Sarwan and Head Coach Phi Simmons, to chose from as potential team members.

One immediate means for CWI to do so would be its reversion of the annual Caribbean Regional 50 Over tournament to its previous ten-team format. That would allow for the participation of West Indies U23 Emerging Players, as well as the Combined Colleges and Universities along with representative teams from Canada and the US. If staged in November as per its regular schedule, and in its ten-team format, this year’s tournament would be perfectly timed to allow appropriately talented players to identify themselves for selection consideration during the West Indies build-up to its ICC 2023 ODI World Cup participation.

Qualifying for the 2023 World Cup and progressing at the very least to its semi-finals should be one of Pooran’s primary objectives as West Indies captain. So too should be the achievement of similar levels of success at this year’s Australia-hosted ICC T20 World Cup and even more importantly next year’s which will be held in the Caribbean.

As he strives towards achieving such objectives, Nicholas Pooran can be guided by the wonderful example Eon Morgan has set with his outstanding success in the identical white-ball captaincy role for England. His first assignment as West Indies ODI captain will be the scheduled forthcoming tours to the Netherlands and Pakistan.  The West Indies will visit the Netherlands for three ODIs on May 31, June 2 and 4, followed by an identical number of ODIs on June 8, 10 and 12 in Pakistan.

About The Writer:

Guyana-born, Toronto-based, Tony McWatt is the Publisher of both the WI Wickets and Wickets/monthly online cricket magazines that are respectively targeted towards Caribbean and Canadian readers. He is also the only son of the former Guyana and West Indies wicket-keeper batsman the late Clifford “Baby Boy” McWatt.

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Comments

  • Mike Persaud  On 05/12/2022 at 1:58 pm

    “Morgan has led England to championship victory at the 2019 ODI World Cup.”

    That’s debatable! Did England really win the 2019 CWC?

    In cricket (as in baseball), you must score one more run than your opponents to win the game. If the scores are level at the end of the match, it’s a tie.

    In the tie-breaker event, you must still score one more run than your opponents to win.

    That didn’t happen at Lord’s in 2019.

    After the main match, England were 241 and New Zealand were 241.

    They then played a Super Over to break the tie. After the S.O., England scored 15 and NZ scored 15.

    But because England scored more boundaries in the main match, they were awarded the match.

    That’s the most bizarre metric to use to decide a championship, never mind a WC.

    In my book, neither England nor NZ won. It was a tie. In MLB, if one team scores three runs in singles and the other team scores their three runs home runs, it’s a tie. They keep playing till there’s a winner. The game is not awarded to the team because they scored their runs in home runs.

    Only in cricket something so ludicrous can happen. After the 2019 WC controversy, the ICC quickly amended the dumb rules to now settle future ties by continuing with Super Overs until there’s a winner.

    So, England have yet to convincingly win a Cricket World Cup.

    MP

  • wally n  On 05/12/2022 at 2:23 pm

    Here is a unique idea, next time, spin a coin and then go home…

  • Rawlins Rampersad  On 05/13/2022 at 6:58 am

    It is wishful thinking that Nicholas Pooran will come anywhere near what Morgan has accomplished for the English white ball team. Pooran does not have the material or talent with which to mould such a team. Pooran appears not to possess the mental toughness nor the nuances of the game to lead as a tactician while thinking on his feet . He like Hetmyer, thinks that he can win a game with one stroke. Perhaps the new and old coaches may fashion a discipline, but one must create such a discipline for one self like Shiv. Moreover he is no MS and his wicket keeping functions will be a drain on his concentration level. Pooran seems to be in the business for the rewards rather than to create a niche for himself. And absolutely nothing is wrong with that, except that such a mind set does not a successful captain make. Incidentally, in the absence of non cricketing issues, Holder is much more capable of taking theWI white ball team forward with Pooran in it of course.

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