Permaul’s 500: Lara’s wicket, winning PCL and Bishoo’s impact
By Avenash Ramzan
The sun sets in the distance, and the shadow of the stands lengthens across the outfield. A sprinkling of spectators are determined to let their nattering break the afternoon peace, as they egg on the home franchise.
Veerasammy Permaul whips the ball from hand to hand; it’s over 26,000 times he’s performed this ritual. He looks up and in the distance Joshua DaSilva is tapping away, trying desperately to engineer a rearguard action for his side, wilting under the pressure of a not-so-friendly Providence turf.
The left-arm spinner starts to move in, goes between the umpires and the stumps as he has done all his life, and lets it rip. The red cherry lands on a good length, luring the right-handed DaSilva forward. He looks to cover his base, but the ball would have none of it.
It turns sharply, grazing the outside edge of DaSilva’s willow, and lands safely in the hands of skipper Leon Johnson at slip; the batsman completely deceived by a piece of mastery from ‘Gunnaz.’
Permaul goes up in celebration, the Jaguars players join in, DaSilva walks back dejectedly, and to most in the crowd it is just another wicket, drifting the hosts closer to victory.
For Permaul though it is a momentous occasion, one that he would no doubt boast of for a long time. And he has every right to indulge in self-aggrandisement, for 500 wickets is no mean achievement, especially after many doubted his readiness for First-Class cricket when he was inducted 13 years ago.
Trusted with the responsibility of leading Guyana’s spin attack as a 17-year-old alongside his Albion clubmate Devendra Bishoo in 2007, after the selectors opted to look beyond spin twins Neil McGarrell and Mahendra Nagamootoo, Permaul has withstood the test of time, endured the heartbreak of being constantly overlooked by the West Indies selectors and has risen to heights only reserved for great men.
“I want to thank God for this achievement. I’m overwhelmed,” Permaul said of reaching the landmark in his 116th game, played against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force at the National Stadium.
“Over the years I have been working hard, and as you can see I’m reaping the benefits.”
“When I first started, I always said I wanted to get 500 First-Class wickets and it’s here now and hopefully I can grow from strength to strength and get more in the future.”
At 30, Permaul is at the peak of his powers, and now that the initial goal has been achieved, it’s about relishing the moments of a beloved game that has provided him a livelihood.
“I won’t set a new goal. I would just play my cricket and enjoy it and see how far I end up at the end of my career.”
Those wickets have been captured for Guyana, West Indies and West Indies A, and the most memorable of them all was at Queen’s Park Oval in 2008, just a year into his First-Class career.
“Brian Lara, I had him caught and bowl,” Permaul reflected with a childish smirk. “I would say that was the most memorable wicket.”
Since that year, Permaul had formed a formidable partnership with Bishoo, who himself has amassed over 380 First-Class wickets, combining to bowl Guyana to many famous victories.
“We grew up together, we played cricket together, we know what each other is capable of, we know each other very well, and we know each other’s strength,” Permaul said of the special relationship with his spin buddy.
Being part of that championship side that won the first of five Regional Four-day titles on the trot has brought immense satisfaction to the Guyana Jaguars senior pro.
“The years before that we were normally bottom of the table, and from that year (2014) our cricket has been on the rise,” Permaul said.
That year he played a significant role in the championship run, claiming a tournament-high 67 wickets, while Bishoo had 61.
It was fitting that Bishoo, only now back from a troublesome knee injury, was on the field on Saturday to celebrate the occasion with his pal.
It was quite unfortunate Permaul’s parents, Vemen Walter and former Test players Narsingh Deonarine and Sewnarine Chattergoon, who have stood by him throughout his career, were not at Providence to witness the momentous occasion.
He can however, take solace in the fact they are tremendously gratified by his distinguished service to Guyana’s cricket.
After all, he has permanently etched his names in the record books as one of the finest products of a vibrant Berbice cricket structure.