Stronger, fitter Paul sets lofty goals with West Indies return in mind

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By Akeem Greene

akeem@newsroom.gy 

‘Genuine all-rounder’ is the tag Keemo Paul wants as a prefix to his name.

And, according to him, reaching that status will rest on achieving the goal of at least one hundred, along with fifties and getting the most wickets at this year’s Regional Four-Day Championships.

Such aspirations are generally spoken in an undertone by most players ahead of a big season, but Paul’s obvious pedigree and success make him a strong candidate to achieve those goals.

While that objective links to his ultimate aim of a West Indies recall, the immediate focus as Vice-captain for Guyana Harpy Eagles is regaining the Four-Day title, which they held for five consecutive seasons through dominant performances.

“It is good to be back. I have been bowling a lot of overs in the warm-up games and the body is feeling pretty good and I am excited to be playing cricket again and to go give 100% for Guyana is what I aiming to do all the time,” he told to News Room Sport in a recent interview.

In the last of the three practice matches, he bowled 21 overs and in the second innings took 4-45.

Keemo Paul is keen on wearing the maroon again as he looks for an injury-free comeback

The seamer looked menacing as ever at a recent practice session, and certainly had the batters on their toes, moving the ball both ways.

“I always swing the red ball and that is something I have been working on a long time and I am just happy to be back bowling and playing cricket for Guyana.”

At the end of the 2017/18 season, his 42 wickets at 18.69 was third overall and the most by a seamer.

While such exploits enhanced his reputation with the ball, it is with the bat that Paul’s ability is yet to be fully maximised at the senior level. He currently has a solitary First-Class hundred after 35 innings.

“I have not given it too much thought, but one of my goals is to get a hundred before the tournament ends and if I can get it between these two games, it would be fantastic. A hundred and probably a fifty and obviously take the most wickets because that is my role in opening the bowling” the all-rounder expounded.

STRONGER AND HUNGRIER FOR SUCCESS

An international career that started in March 2018, and looked poise to blossom into something special was curtailed mainly by injuries.

At 23, it is far from over; in fact, some might say, it is just beginning and for Paul, the disruption to the overload of cricket caused by the COVID-19 pandemic was a blessing in disguise.

It allowed for rest, recovery, and most importantly, strength work on his body after constant niggles kept him out of international cricket.

A second First-Class hundred is on Keemo Paul’s radar

“I always want to play for West Indies, so it is tough being on the sidelines and watching these guys play and you are not there and that has definitely given me that hunger and eagerness to get back there and I just want to show them what I am capable of.”

“I am very confident at this moment. I know what I am about and it is just about going out there and putting in the performances, and I think I will definitely do that this season,” the man from Saxacalli passionately expressed.

A stronger and fitter player who understands his body has been a facet of the game Paul has developed and he hopes it means fewer injuries.

“Injuries have been affecting me a lot in my career and I don’t want it reoccurring. I have been working in the gym and I come out here and put in the work but I have to be careful. Stretches are important, recovery is important, nutrition is very important too and I try to focus on that because I don’t want to be injury-prone, I don’t want to be getting injuries so easy.”

From February 9, Paul will be in action against Windward Volcanoes at the Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad and Tobago. It will mark the resumption of the Four-Day season after two years.

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