Let's do it for the fans - Pollard
All-rounder Kieron Pollard is desperate to give Somerset’s supporters something to cheer about by leading the county to their second Twenty20 crown.
The 23-year-old has flown round the world just to play in finals day as he is currently partaking in the West Indies’ domestic t20 competition.
He has been one of the central figures in Somerset’s charge to the showpiece finale of the Friends Provident t20, contributing 309 runs at a strike rate of 175, along with 28 wickets.
And, despite undoubted jetlag, Pollard is confident he can replicate his best form on the biggest stage.
“Travelling is part and parcel of the game these days - you have got to play all over,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“I have been at home playing a regional tournament so I have plenty of cricket under my belt and I am just looking forward to playing for Somerset - hopefully in two games - and fingers crossed we can come out on top.
“Being able to contribute with bat and ball is always good - I have got to continue doing that.
“However, it is just another game of cricket - if you think about the pressures too much, you feel it yourself so it’s about just thinking about it as another game.”
Pollard’s swashbuckling batting and canny medium-pace have seen him become a leading star in the game’s shortest form, having represented the likes of Trinidad & Tobago, Mumbai Indians and South Australia in competitions ranging from the Indian Premier League to Australia’s KFC Big Bash.
The IPL has been particularly prominent in recent times with the world’s best players signing for franchises for fees in and around $1million.
However, Pollard believes England’s domestic competition, the first of its kind, is up there with the best of them.
“The standard of this competition is excellent - it is the same in them all,” he added. “They are all high and you can not really determine which are better.
“The pressure will be exactly the same as any other competition as well.
“A semi-final and final always generates the same pressure, no matter which competition it is. The fans will still come out and a lot is expected so the pressure is still there.”
Despite playing so much Twenty20 cricket, Pollard has never experienced England’s unique approach to latter part of the competition, in which the semi-finals and the final are played on the same day.
He is excited about the new challenge and believes the amount of 50-over cricket he has played will stand him in good stead.
“It is something new to me - maybe playing two games, one after the other,” he admitted. “I have lots of experience of playing one-day cricket and four-day cricket which will help.
“However, there is always a lot of high intensity in t20 cricket so the mental capacity of each and every player will be tested.
“One-day cricket prepares you for what is in store, it is not that tough, it is just a matter of being mentally strong and physically inclined to go out there and perform for possibly two games.”
Should Somerset beat Nottinghamshire Outlaws in the day’s first semi-final, they will battle it out with the victor of Essex Eagles versus Hampshire Royals for the coveted trophy.
Along with Pollard, one of their trump cards will be an opening partnership of Marcus Trescothick and Craig Kieswetter.
The duo are arguably the strongest pair in the competition with Tresothick boasting a wealth of international experience, while Kieswetter led England to their first World Twenty20 crown with a 49-ball 63 in the final against Australia.
And Pollard admitted their consistency has been a massive help to middle-order batsmen like himself, although he is aware of the need to prepare for all situations.
“They help a lot - they usually get good starts and then it is up to you to just try and continue the momentum,” he enthused.
“But, having said that, we might have the best opening partnership on paper, but it is all about on the day - you never know what can happen on the day.
“It is all about being able to concentrate and really focus on what you have got to do on that start. If they give you a good start, you have to be able to continue it but, if not, you have to really use your head and bat.”
All four sides will go into finals day believing this could be their year but, of course, there can only be one winner.
And Pollard, who revealed he would love the opportunity to return to Somerset after this season, insists simplicity is the key to success.
“In the pressure games, whoever does the basics the best usually comes out on top. The guys are confident, as am I, and we have just got to take that on to the field on the day.
“Hopefully we can play well, come out on top and give the fans something to cheer about.”