GEORGETOWN, Guyana, CMC – Head coach Phil Simmons has praised the qualities of Sunil Narine and Kieron Pollard and says the duo are an invaluable part of any West Indies one-day set-up.
Both players played key roles as West Indies beat South Africa by four wickets in the opening One-Day International of the Tri-Nations Series at the National Stadium here on Friday.
Narine grabbed a career-best six for 27 to bundle out South Africa for 188 and Pollard smashed a run-a-ball unbeaten 67 to see West Indies home.
“You just have to look at the game today. They are the two guys who took the game away from South Africa and it showed that they are very important to our cricket,” Simmons told reporters here.
He added: “Narine himself, coming back from everything he’s been through, to come and perform the way he did … you have to give him a lot of kudos for his grit and his determination, to come out of where he’s been and to come back and perform like this.”
Narine was slapped with a bowling ban by the International Cricket Council (ICC) last November after he was reported for having a suspect illegal action on the one-day tour of Sri Lanka.
He underwent rehabilitation on his action and was subsequently cleared in April to resume bowling, but his outing in the just concluded Indian Premier League for Kolkata Knight Riders was muted.
Simmons said, however, that Narine’s wicket-taking ability would always be crucial for West Indies as he possessed the ability to change games.
“It (Narine’s impact) was hugely important to get wickets in ODIs but to also be a match-winner because that’s what he is and he showed tonight that he’s a match winner and he showed that’s one of the things we have been missing,” Simmons stressed.
Pollard also made a bold statement in his first ODI for West Indies in nearly two years. Controversially omitted since the fractious abandoned tour of India in 2014, the right-hander proved the catalyst in the Windies batting.
Arriving with the hosts wandering at 76 for four in the 26th over, he smashed two fours and six sixes to wrench the advantage from South Africa.
“Pollard’s experience showed in the end there, his ability to hit the ball but also his experience to guide young (Darren) Bravo and so on through the end. It is an important part of our innings,” Simmons explained.
“It showed in their innings too, (AB) de Villiers guiding (Rilee) Rossouw.
“I think we came out on top because we showed a little bit more grit and a little bit more determination today.”
West Indies take on Australia in their second game today at the same venue.