EXCLUSIVE: Permaul breaks silence on non-selection

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By Avenash Ramzan

Aside from the obvious unprecedented nature of the West Indies tour to England in the midst of a pandemic grabbing headlines, the non-selection of Guyanese left-arm spinner Veerasammy Permaul has undoubtedly emerged as a trending subplot.

The 30-year-old could not find a spot in an extended travelling contingent of 25 players, despite another outstanding season with the ball for Guyana Jaguars in the West Indies Four-Day Championship, the tournament used to scout potential Test players.

Permaul finished the truncated 2019/2020 season with a chart-topping 50 wickets in eight games, extending his haul since the franchise-based Four-Day Championship began in 2014 to 290 wickets in 55 games at 16.90.

His non-selection sparked outrage in Guyana with fans taking to social media to express their disgust with the Cricket West Indies Selection Panel.

The Guyana Cricket Board, Berbice Cricket Board and Albion Community Centre Cricket Club also questioned how Permaul could not make a Test squad of 14 or even a reserve list of 11 players for the three-Test series, starting July 8.

Veerasammy Permaul takes a breather after capturing his 500th First-Class wicket on January 25, 2020, at Providence

Disappointed

Permaul, in his first public interview since the squad was announced, said he is disappointed to once again miss out on a West Indies selection, and he’s now not sure if he would ever play international cricket again.

“I wish I know the answer to give, but the answer is with CWI Selection Panel,” Permaul told News Room Sport exclusively this weekend.

“I’ve never seen a player in First-Class cricket perform so consistently and doesn’t get opportunities to represent the region,” Permaul, who has picked up 536 wickets in 121 First-Class games, said.

“I am the most unlucky one; it is hard to take being the leading wicket-taker at the end of the season and I can’t make a West Indies team or the reserves. My faith is in God, not man. Maybe God knows what’s best for me.”

He added, “After an excellent season with the ball I thought I would have been on the tour after being in 30-man squad (which was initially longlisted). I am very much disappointed after being one the most consistent performers in First-Class cricket since the Professional Cricket League (started) and I am certain I am bowler with the most wickets in the last six years.”

Since the inception of the franchise-based Four-Day tournament, 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.

Despite close to 300 wickets in the last six seasons, the former West Indies A team captain 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 overall tally to 18 wickets in six matches.

Veerasammy Permaul in his delivery stride

What Harper said

CWI Chairman of Selectors Roger Harper highlighted team structure and conditions in England were factors that worked against his fellow countryman.

“With the sort of performance that Permaul has had this season and over the years, (the public discourse) that’s not surprising. Like I said, Permaul has been performing exceptionally well over the last few years, so I’m not surprised (by the reaction of stakeholders),” Harper said.

CWI Chief Selector Roger Harper

Appearing on Mason and Guest Radio show in Barbados, Harper sought to put the matter into perspective.

“If you look at the structure of the team, you know the Test squad and the reserves, you realise there aren’t a lot of spinners in the party. Going to England, we looked at the sort of conditions that you’re likely to face there and the sort of bowlers you know we’ll need in the squad, and Cornwall was selected as the spinner in the Test squad from his last performance in his last Test,” Harper explained.

He added, “Looking at reserves, we thought we’d look at replacements for positions and places in the team and picked one spinner as a direct replacement and the Panel went for the incumbent, who was on the last tour.”

Series details

The series will feature three back-to-back Test matches for the Wisden Trophy. The first Test will be played at the Ageas Bowl in Southampton (July 8-12) with the second and third matches at Old Trafford in Manchester from July 16-20 and then July 24-28.

Test Squad: Jason Holder (Captain), Jermaine Blackwood, Nkrumah Bonner, Kraigg Brathwaite, Shamarh Brooks, John Campbell, Roston Chase, Rahkeem Cornwall, Shane Dowrich, Chemar Holder, Shai Hope, Alzarri Joseph, Raymon Reifer and Kemar Roach.

Reserve Players: Sunil Ambris, Joshua DaSilva, Shannon Gabriel, Keon Harding, Kyle Mayers, Preston McSween, Marquino Mindley, Shayne Moseley, Anderson Phillip, Oshane Thomas and Jomel Warrican.

Team Management: Phil Simmons (Head Coach), Rawl Lewis (Team Manager), Roddy Estwick (Assistant Coach), Rayon Griffith (Assistant Coach), Floyd Reifer (Batting Coach), Dr Praimanand Singh (Team Doctor), Ronald Rogers (Strength & Conditioning Coach), Denis Byam (Physiotherapist), Neil Barry Jr (Physiotherapist), Zephyrinus Nicholas (Massage Therapist), Nkoyo Meade (Massage Therapist), Donald LaGuerre (Team Psychologist), A.R. Srikkanth (Team Analyst) and Dario Barthley (Media & Content Officer).

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