King, Pooran dream of playing Test cricket

Cricket

King, Pooran dream of playing Test cricket

BY SANJAY MYERS
Senior staff reporter
myerss@jamaicaobserver.com

Thursday, May 14, 2020

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BRANDON King and Nicholas Pooran, two of the Caribbean's rising batting stars, say they ultimately dream of playing Test cricket for West Indies, despite so far only representing the regional side in white-ball cricket.

King, the 25-year-old Jamaican right-hander, made his debut for West Indies in Twenty20 (T20) and One-Day International (ODI) cricket last year, but is yet to feature in the sport's longest format.

Trinidadian Pooran, 24, a left-handed batsman and wicketkeeper, began his T20 International career four years ago. He has developed into a regular for West Indies in T20s and ODIs.

Ironically, King, an elegant stroke-maker, was affixed to the radar of Caribbean cricket watchers after scoring over 600 runs and averaging just below 50 for Jamaican Scorpions during the 2018-19 regional four-day season.

While that accomplishment demonstrated the level of temperament required at Test level, the batsman's impressive tally of 496 runs for Guyana Amazon Warriors in the subsequent Caribbean Premier League T20 tournament saw him fast-tracked into the West Indies white-ball squads.

Those duties limited him to only one match for the Scorpions in the abbreviated 2019-20 four-day campaign.

But King maintained that he prefers the longest version.

“I have a little mixed feeling. Even though I've had breakthrough performances in T20 cricket I still believe four-day is my best format. I wish to play all formats for West Indies [but] my main goal was, and still is, to play Test cricket,” he told the Jamaica Observer during an interview late on Tuesday.

“I would've loved to be able to put in some strong performances in four-day [cricket] again after a good 2018-19 campaign but I loved being a part of the Windies set-up even more – so I have no trouble with how things have gone,” King said.

Pooran, who has developed a reputation as a crisp striker of the ball, has been a staple in Twenty20 franchise leagues around the world since he was a teenager. But yesterday he told the Observer that playing the longest format is very much in his plans.

“Test cricket is something I always wanted to play. I would love the opportunity to experience Test cricket at some point, but just right now I'm taking it step by step,” he said during a telephone interview.

Cricket West Indies, under President Ricky Skerritt, has scrapped the strict guidelines implemented by the previous administration which, barring an exemption, forced Test aspirants to participate in the regional first class tournament.

However, even with those rules out the window it would augur well for players to indicate their ambitions by playing in the competition.

Pooran, a self-professed student of the game, has only featured in three regional four-day matches — all of which came between November and December 2014.

The former West Indies Under-19 star said he is not averse to returning to the regional four-day scene.

“I'm not rushing anything…I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, and I'm contracted by Cricket West Indies. If that is what I have to do to play Test cricket, I guess I'll have to do it at some point in time. That's a conversation to have; I need to find out what I have to do to play [Tests] eventually.

“Right now, when playing for West Indies the only free time we have [allows] playing one [four-day] game or two games. I just started to play international cricket; I just got a taste and I'm enjoying it thus far,” he explained.

Pooran, who has an outstanding batting average of 49.05 in 25 ODIs, sustained near career-ending injuries after he was involved in a vehicular collision in Trinidad in January 2015.

He was left with a ruptured left patellar tendon (structure linking kneecap to shin bone) and a fractured right ankle. Separate surgeries and months of physiotherapy were required before he was even able to walk again.

In an Observer article published on May 1, 2020, his compatriot Dwayne Bravo cited Pooran's potential to be an effective Test batsman.

“Definitely, someone like Pooran batting at six or seven is going to be very good for West Indies, very handy in that lower order when bowlers [are] tired,” Bravo told the Observer.

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