Converting baseball fans to cricket, the 'Nicky P' way

by   •  Last updated on
Nicholas Pooran smashed 13 sixes in his knock of 137* in the MLC 2023 final.
Nicholas Pooran smashed 13 sixes in his knock of 137* in the MLC 2023 final. © Sportzpics

"I'm a baseball guy but if Nicky P is in town I am coming to the cricket match every day of the week," said Garrett Lessman, a 28-year-old who was in attendance at the inaugural MLC final when Nicholas Pooran sent a sellout crowd in a state of trance with a dazzling 137* off 55 deliveries. Lessman echoed the sentiments of many Americans at the game who were getting their first taste of cricket through the MLC.

"Wonderful. I believe that I'm an entertainer. My purpose is to make people happy through my talent. Really happy that I could be here in America and perform like that. Obviously, we wanna build cricket in America. And it's really nice to hear that an American who has no idea about cricket, but he's come to support. Not only me, but cricket.

"That's wonderful, I think that's the direction we wanna head. We're here to oversee and endorse cricket in America. So that's a start and the MLC has been a success this year," said the MI New York skipper when intimated about the sentiments of Lessman and many others.

Cameron Gannon may have pinned Pooran to the floor with a deadly yorker that went for four match-winning byes, but not before Pooran had unleashed total mayhem in the middle. It was just that type of night for him. He was invincible. A monumental innings, probably in the same echelon as Brendon McCullum's 158, some 15 years back that gave birth to the cult of IPL.

The crowd was left enamoured by a mid-innings drone show that sparkled the firmament and Pooran kept the night sky illuminated by launching as many as 13 sixes into the frenzied stands. It was a moving innings not just for a few hundred American kids that waited nearly an hour after the game to catch a piece of him, but even for the man himself.

"This is probably my best T20 innings, I'm just happier to win the game for my team. It's a special moment for me and my family. This is the first time my baby girl has come to America, come to watch any of my tournaments. This could be a special memory for her looking back 20 years from now," added Pooran.

Pooran has set a few stages on fire before in his career but not with the savagery witnessed on Sunday night. In a single man demolition act, he galloped towards Orcas challenging total of 183. He made his intentions clear early when he launched a couple of projectiles off the canny Imad Wasim in the first over. He teed off in the third over against Dwaine Pretorius, plundering the South African for 26 runs. For the next hour, the spectators danced to the tunes of a Pooran calypso.

"Sitting in the dugout, I said, Okay, Nikki, you're no longer the captain of the team you have to bat like Nicky P. And I just went out there, I know Imad was gonna trying to get me out. He's gonna be looking for something and I was up to the challenge, it was a really good batting wicket so I felt like I could play through the line.

"Once I got a couple off the middle of the bat, my body just took over. I was seeing the ball and I just reacted and held my shape. We were around 80 after the powerplay, so I told myself to continue reacting the same way as it was a good pitch. These are the innings you always work hard for. I always want to be there at the end which I did."

During this unparalleled high, Pooran recalled some times of agony as well. As a 19-year-old, he almost lost his life in a car accident that left him on crutches for six months. The 27-year-old Trinidadian recalled his resolve to not just get back to the cricket field but also be the best version of himself.

"2015, I got into an accident and almost lost my life. That changed everything for me. So for me, it's all about appreciating the moment. I knew when I got back from rehab, when I was fit again. I just wanted to be ready for my next opportunity. I knew I need to put the hours in. When I'm up at 4 am batting in the nets and ending up running even at 11 pm in the night, day in and day out.

"That's the hard work, that's what people dont see. But I'm not suprised that putting things to gather. I've struggled a lot both on and off the field. I remember couple of years ago I made four ducks in the IPL. But I was really young as well. I got that opportunity to learn. When you fail you obviously learn a lot more. I got that experience, I got the opportunity to learn and now I'm 27, now everything has fallen into place. I am just riding the wave. Just staying in the moment as long as possible."



Move to top