Veerasammy Permaul: ‘God knows best’

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By Avenash Ramzan

Imagine going above and beyond year after year, displaying sheer dedication, commitment and love for the job at hand. You lose sleep trying to perfect your craft; you put your body through extreme rigours, just to remain relevant.

In the midst of it all, you’re forced to fight the mental battle of being consistently ignored. Your best, it would appear, is just not good enough.

With the passage of time, that promotion seems highly unlikely.

You wan’t to quit- that’s the easy way out- but that’s not in your DNA. You weren’t brought up that way.

Excellence is the standard you have set yourself, and despite being overlooked, the show must go on.

In a synopsis, that’s the career of seasoned Guyanese left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul.

Veerasammy Permaul takes a breather after capturing his 500th First-Class wicket on January 25, 2020, at Providence (Photo: Avenash Ramzan)

The Berbician has been the backbone of Guyana’s bowling attack for the past 13 years, picking up over 700 wickets in the three formats combined. It’s a staggering number for a bowler in an era where the game has become increasingly batsman friendly.

Such levels of success speak to remarkable consistency in all facets of the game: fitness, training and on-field exploits.

Permaul has been the standout for Guyana Jaguars in the franchise era, leading the bowling effort that has secured the Leon Johnson-led side five titles on the trot.

That sequence by the Guyana Jaguars was broken by Barbados Pride in the truncated 2019-20 season, but one thing remained constant- the dominance of Permaul, the little Albion left-arm master.

Despite close to 300 wickets in the last six Regional Four-Day seasons, the 30-year-old Permaul has only appeared in two Test matches during this period, both in 2015 against England and Australia in the Caribbean.

He claimed six wickets in those two Tests, carrying his Test tally to 18 wickets in six Tests.

Since then, Permaul has toiled relentlessly at the Regional level, plucking wickets almost at will without ever getting a Test recall. (He did play an ODI in 2017 and his lone T20I in 2018)

In Test cricket, West Indies spin options have been Permaul’s compatriot, leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo, left-arm spinner Jomel Warrican and off-spinners Roston Chase and Rakheem Cornwall.

Veerasammy Permaul captured his career-best match-haul this season

Being consistently overlooked is something that has understandably frustrated a man who this season crossed the 500-wicket mark in First-Class cricket, when he had rising talent Joshua DaSilva of Trinidad and Tobago Red Force caught by Johnson at slip at Providence.

“After all these years doing so well in Regional Cricket and never getting a fair opportunity in West Indies Cricket I was frustrated, but then it came a time that I stopped thinking about it and just started to enjoy my game. I said to myself, if it’s meant to be, it will happen; God knows what is best for me,” Permaul told News Room this weekend.

“The love for the game keeps me going. When I was a small kid growing up, I always loved playing cricket, and playing cricket was always my ambitions. I grow up with it in me to become a cricketer and play for the West Indies.”

Permaul’s career in numbers: https://www.espncricinfo.com/westindies/content/player/274921.html

The encouragement and positive advice of family, friends, club and teammates have also kept Permaul motivated during the tough times.

“I always say to myself ‘I will get back when God wants me there; God is my only hope,” he reckoned.

Reflecting on the 2019-20 Regional Four-day season, Cricket West Indies Chairman of Selectors, Roger Harper, speaking on Barbados radio programme ‘Mason and Guest’, hosted by cricket commentator Andrew Mason, said this of Permaul: “He has certainly put his hands up again, in a big way. You know, taking 50 wickets in the eight matches, he has really put his hands up, and of course he would be seriously considered.”

West Indies next Test series is against hosts England in June.

Since the inception of the franchise-based Four-Day tournament in 2014, Permaul has been the leading wicket-taker on three occasions (2014-15, 2017-18 and 2019-20), while he finished second in 2018-19, third in 2016-17 and fifth in 2015-16.

Close to eight years since his Test debut, Permaul has appeared in just six matches. Would he get the opportunity to play more? Time will tell
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