Controversy and the Indian Premier League go together like milk and cookies. There hasn’t been a single season so far where there hasn’t been a controversial incident, the peak of it being the spot-fixing and betting scandal in 2013. This celebratory 10th season of the annual Indian Twenty20 bash had its first flare-up when Mumbai Indians all-rounder Kieron Pollard, from Trinidad, called out India cricketer-turned-commentator Sanjay Manjrekar for implying on air that the Trinidadian did not have the brains to bat higher up the order.
Pollard came in to bat at No 6 on Sunday and scored a run-a-ball 17 in Mumbai’s chase of 179 against Kolkata Knight Riders. He was dismissed after mistiming a cut off a short and wide delivery, which left his team at a precarious 119/5 with less than four overs to go.
Asked on air by a fellow commentator about what Pollard’s ideal position is as a batsman, Manjrekar said, “When I look at Pollard, I look at him as more a six-seven-overs-left-in-the-innings batsman. Whether he will be able to bat at No 3 and whether he has the versatility to pick up the singles if the boundaries are not coming, does he have the range as a batsman? I don’t think so. My view is, maybe six or seven overs left in the innings is the perfect time for Pollard to come in.”
After the match, Pollard took to Twitter to respond to Manjrekar:
Pollard wasn’t the only cricketer from the West Indies who was offended by Manjrekar’s comments. Former West Indies bowler Tino Best, from Barbados, also called out Manjrekar on Twitter, saying:
However, Manjrekar does not say the word “brains” or “brainless” even once in that response to his fellow commentator. Yes, he does say that Pollard does not have the versatility to bat higher up the order, but that’s not the same as saying he is “brainless”, as Pollard thinks he did, right?
Manjrekar also said, “...does he have the range as a batsman? I don’t think so.” Did Pollard and Best fail to hear Manjrekar correctly and think he said “brains” instead of “range”? It is quite possible.
CricketCountry.com does, however, quote Manjrekar saying, “Pollard does not have the brains to play early in the innings.” But this quote is nowhere to be found in Manjrekar’s comments after Pollard was dismissed.
Manjrekar is yet to respond to Pollard’s tweets, but he isn’t the only commentator who has found himself in hot water over comments made about the intelligence of West Indian cricketers. English commentator Mark Nicholas had to apologise last year after saying that the West Indies team was “short of brains”. He had made the comment in the buildup to the 2016 World T20 final between West Indies and England.
West Indies captain Darren Sammy had responded to Nicholas’s comments after the final, which his team won. “I’m done with Mark,” Sammy said. “This tournament, with all that happened before…the disrespect from journalists, from our own cricket board. That was out of order. The only way we could make a statement was by winning this tournament.”
Guess that’s something Pollard will think he needs to do as well.