Close of play: ‘Reds’ calls it a day
By Avenash Ramzan
Fifty-five years of cricket commentary will come to an end this weekend when Guyanese commentator extraordinaire, Joseph ‘Reds’ Perriera, goes behind the microphone one final time in the Guyana Jaguars versus Barbados Pride game at the National Stadium, Providence.
Overcoming a speech impediment on his way to becoming one of the recognisable characters of the game, ‘Reds’ started his journey in cricket commentary in 1961, covering 147 Test matches, countless One Day Internationals and hundreds of domestic games.
During a press conference at the Tower Hotel on Thursday, the Pomeroon-born cricket fanatic recalled his entry into the profession long before Guyana gained Independence.
“There was British Guiana and Trinidad and Tobago at Rose Hall and they had to pick a second [commentary] team and Norman McLean, Claude Vieira and I were chosen after doing a test doing a trial match. So that was my beginning,” ‘Reds’ reminisced.
“Lots of memories about the game. I was nervous as you would imagine. [I] didn’t make too many mistakes, but it was a terrifying time to be on live radio.”
‘Reds’ reflected on several moments in his commentary career, noting that Bangladesh is the only Test playing nation that he has not had a stint.
“It’s been a long ride; a great time in my life. I was very lucky, thanks to people. If it wasn’t for the Rafeek Khans, the Hugh Cholmondeleys, GBS…if it wasn’t for the Caribbean Broadcasting Union who really made a great opportunity for me in 1973 when Australia toured [and] Jerry Richard in Barbados, I probably wouldn’t have got the opportunity, but it snowballed and people at [the radio] stations were very, very happy,” ‘Reds’ recounted.
The decision to retire from commentary was prompted by the recent passing of another great commentator, best friend and colleague, who incidentally was called to the great beyond on ‘Reds’ birthday.
“Part of my calling it a day is tied in with the death of Tony Cozier. I mean here was someone whom I knew for 50 years. He was not a blood relative, but he was my brother,” ‘Reds’ stated.
He continued, “We spoke once a week- he will call me, I will call him. When you travel with someone for 30 years and you share many great moments, you share lots of times together…luckily for us, we shared alot of West Indies victories. I think the two of us saw the end of the 3Ws (Worrell, Walcott and Weekes), the beginning of the [Rohan] Kanhai/[Garfield] Sobers period and then of course the Lloyd/[Vivian] Richards period. So we were very lucky.”
‘Reds’ told media operatives that while he is not at all big on accolades or farewell, he has one request which he would like to be fulfilled in the interest of helping to unite the nation.
“I want to appeal to the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition to play a game- Prime Minister’s XI versus Leader of the Opposition’s XI. The selectors must pick the teams, the must pick two even balanced teams, played at Bourda. Cricket has held us together, all the funds go to charity. It can be a one-off game or a best-of-three: one in Berbice, Georgetown and Essequibo. That’s the one humble appeal- let’s have a game,” ‘Reds’ urged.
The respected commentator also said he will be proposing a sport project to Director of Sport Christopher Jones. However, he did not divulge details, but to say that it is similar to a project that is functional in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados.