James Buttler continues a series looking at the way the Indian Premier League has changed cricket forever…
IPL T20 cricket has given certain cricketers a career beyond measure. The riches for a few weeks’ ‘work’ a year are astonishing. The fanbase is huge. The career cache incredible.
Take a glance at Kieron Pollard’s statistics. Before he fell out with the West Indies Cricket Board, he played 101 ODIs and 59 T20Is. Domestically, basically IPL and below, he has turned out 460 times for various T20 sides and spent another 136 days playing List A cricket.
In the one-day arena he’s kept himself busy, hauled in millions of US/Australian/Canadian dollars, Indian lakh rupees, British pounds, Bangladesh taka and Pakistani rupee. He even pocketed a large pile of Allen Stanford’s cash when, in June 2008, Polly was part of the West Indies all-stars team that shared the $20million prize pot.
In stark comparison, Kieron Pollard has played just 27 first-class matches.
I am a huge admirer of the Caribbean tree trunk. He seems a decent bloke, he’s a winner, an entertainer, and he’s built like a brick out-house, so I dare not put my name to anything less flattering. Apparently, if you total the measurements of his biceps and thighs, they accumulate to two inches more than the height of Sachin Tendulkar. Actually, I think that is how urban myths are started. But he’s big!
It is that immense power that allows him to stand in the crease and send good balls from great bowlers out of big grounds. His unerring belief that he can hit at least two balls from the final over for six has finished many an IPL game that looked out of range for Mumbai Indians.
His domestic T20 strike-rate is 150, sustained across 416 innings. If he hit things that hard outside of a cricket arena, he’d be in the cell next to Allen Stanford.
He reminds me of a guy I used to bowl at during my mediocre career as a club all-rounder. When batting I modelled myself on Mike Atherton. I wanted to be stubborn, hit the ball along the floor and play straight. That was the minimum demanded in all the books I had read. It may have helped if our home ground wasn’t shared with cows that needed shepherding beyond the far boundary before play could begin. There was also an unwanted task involving a shovel and a wheelbarrow, but the less I recall that the better.
As a bowler I was on the sharp side of medium. I had some success, but one fella always murdered me. He was a butcher, ruddy cheeks and a decent belly. He downed pints like others down shots, and he had a thirst for smashing me over cow corner.
Now there is more to Pollard than that, but not much. He is the international version of my butcher nemesis. There is a lot in the speed of eye and hands and the strength of the shoulders. They probably had both been the biggest in their class when kids, commanding the respect size gives you when seven years old and that physical dominance translated on to the playing field.
Pollard’s batting lacks the technical finesse required by first-class cricket. His brain gets bored if required to bat more than 50 balls. His bowling is fine as a filler and container in one-day cricket, but I’d not want to be the captain required to request he bowl 20 overs a day in the longer form.
He’s not the only one. South African David Miller once told me he got bored playing first-class matches.
In other sports the quick hit disciplines get the big bucks. Usain Bolt worked for 10 seconds every four Olympic cycles (he coasted through the heats). The marathon runners are pounding the paths for countless hours. Can you name a single marathon gold medalist during Usain’s time? And I would wager their bank accounts look remarkably different too.
The butchers have been given license by the IPL to become stars and millionaires. And there is nothing wrong with that at all. Unless you’re a bowler.
The first Test between England and the West Indies takes place on Wednesday at the Ageas Bowl.
Sibley made a strong impression during his first winter as an international cricketer.
The BBC will screen highlights at the end of each day’s play of England’s Test series with the West Indies.
England batsman Zak Crawley has backed “big leader” Ben Stokes to be a successful captain in their Test match against the West Indies.
Former England batsman Ian Bell has said the prospect of retirement is not on his mind after extending his contract at Warwickshire.
Vaughan was hampered by a knee injury.
England’s top four will likely have just 39 caps between them.
Dan Lawrence has emerged as a contender.
Captain Joe Root is absent due to the impending birth of his second child.