March 1, 2017

'I embrace the comparison with Russell'

Rovman Powell talks about dealing with great expectations, his Test ambitions, and wanting to give back to his mother
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Powell wants to develop into a premier power-hitter in the limited-overs formats © CPL/Sportsfile

"Rovman Powell is a Jr Andre Russell."

That was what Kolkata Knight Riders' Twitter handle quoted the franchise's CEO, Venky Mysore, saying during the 2017 IPL auction. Mysore is no stranger to Caribbean cricket talent, with KKR having a sister franchise, Trinbago Knight Riders, in the CPL.

Such sentiments about the exciting young Jamaican were regularly expressed during the 2016 CPL, which Jamaica Tallawahs won. In the Caribbean Super50, Powell couldn't have timed his eye-catching all-round performances any better - they came in the semi-final and final, just before the IPL auction.

You made your domestic debut in 2015, but it was during the 2016 Super50, when you were playing for the Combined Campuses and Colleges (CCC), that people started taking notice of you, particularly the Jamaica Tallawahs franchise.
Yes, I started playing in Jamaica for a club in St Catherine Parish, and for the last two years I have been a University of West Indies (Mona Campus in Jamaica) scholarship athlete. After that tournament I wasn't expecting much. But a month before the 2016 CPL draft, representatives from the Tallawahs said they had heard about me and I eventually got picked by them.

"Right now I would say my bowling is still a work in progress"

Tallawahs coach Paul Nixon told ESPNcricinfo last year that your biggest driving factor currently in cricket is to use the sport as a means to help your mother, who has been the main parent in your life. Can you elaborate on that?
Absolutely, that's the case. I grew up in a small town in St Catherine, where my mother worked hard to support me. Certainly I see cricket as means where I can express my god-given talents and bring my mother and family out of poverty.

During CPL and at the IPL draft when you were picked, the talk was that you are the next Andre Russell. At this stage of your career, are you intimidated by that comparison or do you embrace it? Also, what is your relationship with Andre like?
I fully embrace the comparison, to be honest. If knowledgeable people in the game believe I have the ability to match up with what Andre has done, considering he is already a world-beater, all I can do is keep improving my game to be at that level. Andre and I are very close and he's certainly a mentor to me. On tour with West Indies recently, he regularly sent encouraging messages and game tips.

Ignoring all the controversies, how did you find the atmosphere in the West Indies camp during the recent tours to the UAE and Zimbabwe?
As a young player, experiencing what it's like to be around the senior West Indies team was an eye-opener. We have a lot of talented youngsters and if we can grow together, I believe we all have great futures ahead of us for the West Indies team.

Powell takes a catch during the triangular series in Zimbabwe, his only taste of international cricket so far © AFP

Would it help yourself and other young players in the team to have experienced players around?
I'm not too worried about whether the team is made up of seniors or youngsters or what composition. All I can do, if the selectors pick me again, is continue improving and translating my domestic form onto the international stage.

Tell us about your semi-final performance versus defending champions Trinidad & Tobago, where you produced both your best batting and your best bowling performance so far in domestic cricket.
In that game our openers and Blackwood gave us a brilliant start. I just went out there with about 15 overs to go and just decided to express myself, since it was clear the pitch was excellent for batting.

Did you think the Trinidad & Tobago bowlers bowled to your strengths?
Probably a combination of both. You look at world cricket these days and we, the Caribbean, probably lead the world in this, which is why we are T20 world champions - it's very difficult for bowlers in the shorter formats to restrict power-hitters. That is type of player, as a batsman, I'm trying to be.

"So far, I've been selected in the limited-overs formats, so I hope to use it as a stepping stone to eventually playing Tests"

Having taken your first career five-wicket haul, do you feel going forward at international level that your bowling is a reliable fourth- or fifth-choice option?
Right now I would say my bowling is still a work in progress. I've been regularly working with Jamaica coach Robert Samuels to improve all aspects of my bowling.

In the final, it seemed for a while - especially during your partnerships with Jerome Taylor and captain Nikita Miller - that you were potentially about to play a great one-man rescue innings, similar to what Marcus Stoinis also almost did for Australia versus New Zealand last month.
Honestly I felt confident at the time. Always thought that if those guys were able to stay with me for a little bit more, I could have played an innings to help Jamaica win. But that is cricket, and winning the final wasn't meant for us.

A big aim for West Indies in one-day cricket for the remainder of 2017 is to qualify automatically for the 2019 World Cup by the September 30 cutoff date. What are your personal goals for 2017?
I'm a lover of cricket and certainly always wanted to play Test cricket for West Indies growing up. So far, I've been selected in the limited-overs formats, so I hope to use it as a stepping stone to eventually playing Tests and, of course, help the team achieve the World cup qualification objective.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  •   cricfan0292457893 on March 3, 2017, 14:23 GMT

    Its a pleasure to know Rovman Powell personally, going to University with him and speaking to him about cricket. He is a really humble guy and i believe he will do well in all formats of the game. He loves the game. Such a passionate young West Indian. I wish him all the best!

  • ShekarRamlal86 on March 3, 2017, 13:26 GMT

    He seems more to me like a younger, more technically correct version of Keiron Pollard than Andre Russel. The issue with Pollard was that he was not encouraged to play much fc cricket as he was snubbed from Test selection in his initial years while he was still performing well. The WICB needs to invest in Rovman Powell and encourage him by selecting him atleast in the Test squad. He is a genuine batsman, not just the power hitter we have seen of him thus far. His bowling as he admitted is still a work in progress. However, if he can show the capacity to build an innings under pressure, then a spot at number 6 or 7 in Tests while he chips in with some developing pace bowling may not be beyond him at all

  • ajmaldubai on March 3, 2017, 4:56 GMT

    He has a real potential to be one of world class Allrounder. He is a better batter than Carlos Brathwaite. Of course, he is young and has lots of time to improve his game. Seems he may have a long career with West Indies largely in limited over format. One more fast bowling Allrounder has added in West Indies lineup along with Carlos, Bravo, Holder.

  • vik56in on March 3, 2017, 3:38 GMT

    He sounds as a humble young man . It is precisely disciplined men like Rovman Powel that West Indies cricket needs at the moment. Not spoilt and undisciplined brats like Bravo, Gayle, Pollard and Samuels.

  • WNHS on March 3, 2017, 0:04 GMT

    Would love to see him play test cricket. Evin Lewis has also stated his intentions to play test cricket. C'mon WICB, pick them for the pakistan series.

  • Cyrus_The_Virus on March 2, 2017, 19:33 GMT

    Does this guy bowl at 145 kph like Andre Russell regularly does? Also his T20 strike rate is only 119 as compared to Russell's 160.

  • dannyhey on March 2, 2017, 14:57 GMT

    Always nice to see there are still players out in the West Indies that want to play for the West Indies in all three formats!

  • phermon on March 2, 2017, 8:10 GMT

    Some of this lads answers to leading questions were soooo good. Well done - you've got a supporter in Australia

  • dgeneral on March 2, 2017, 4:34 GMT

    All talented wi cricketers with will be scooped up and be spoiled by t20.

  • redneck on March 2, 2017, 2:58 GMT

    great to hear a young west indian still having a goal to play test cricket! hope he succeeds in doing that! hearing some of their younger brigade speak and also their under 19 teams success makes me think west indies cricket is about to turn the corner and be rightfully back amongst the best teams in the world.

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