Keemo Paul 2.0: Fitter, faster and hungrier for success


By Akeem Greene

Before the first ball, there is a structured routine.

He hands the white floppy hat to a teammate, marks out his run-up and does a demo run to the crease while the umpire and batsman settle into their mark.

He slowly walks back, head down in immense concentration. What follows is an instinctive check of the ball.

He then turns- number 84 on his back- and starts his rhythmic stride to the crease.

There is not much head movement or swaying of the arms in the run-up to the popping crease, but he generates enough momentum for the release of a thunderbolt.

As the ball gets older, the pace gets a few clicks higher and the back bends for the occasional uncomfortable bumper, peppering some of the best regional players.

There is no speed gun at the Regional Four-Day Championship, but the consensus, even from the former West Indies speedsters watching the action, is that Keemo Paul is back, bowling faster than before.

Keemo Paul has bowled aggressively and much quicker this season

Injury and recovery

In November 2020, Paul returned from New Zealand with an injury, his body badly bruised due to overwork and mismanagement.

It was a case of the budding all-rounder having a reality check, as the great promise the world saw in the Saxacalli youth was facing its first major hurdle in international cricket.

Back then the pandemic was still raging, and the restrictions that came with it provided Paul with a chance to not only allow his body to fully recover, but also reflect on his achievements and the next chapter of his career.

With little cricket being played during period, the time-off also afforded the West Indies Under-19 World Cup winner time to reconnect with his roots- accompanying his father David to the family farm and spending quality time with loved ones.

In the midst of that, Paul engaged in some friendly softball action on the Saxacalli beach and although he was not 100%, the energetic cricketer was still a force to reckon with.

Back to full fitness in 2021, Paul signed with the St. Lucia Kings for the Caribbean Premier League, and while his returns were not earth-shattering, there were flashes of brilliance.

That tournament provided the springboard for Paul’s second coming, and as the pandemic gradually waned, the cricket calendar started to become busy.

To ensure he was not found wanting on his return journey, Paul hired a fitness trainer, a decision that brought great rewards at the recently concluded Regional Four-Day Championship.

Keemo Paul (left) looks fitter and stronger

Fitter and stronger

A leaner and clearly fitter Paul finished the season with 20 wickets in nine innings at 22.80 to be the leading seamer in the five-round tournament, and the second leading wicket-taker overall behind off-spinner Rahkeem Cornwall with 23.

Those impressive numbers aside, the bustling fast bowler demonstrated great consistency in line and length for the most parts, coupled with rapid pace throughout the day.

There were times when he also slowed it down to make the best use of the conditions, like against Trinidad and Tobago Red Force in the final round when he captured 6-50 from 19.2 overs to trigger a dramatic collapse.

“After these three rounds, I feel really good. I did a lot of work in the gym and I just want to keep improving. I did well with the ball, but I am not satisfied with the bat, I think I need to put in some extra work there and get it done,” he related to News Room Sport in Trinidad.

“I always had the ability and talent, but I was lacking a lot of strength work. I got a trainer and put the work in and try to get as strong as possible and that helped me a lot.”

Paul has a lone First-Class century along with three fifties from 43 innings, stats that do little justice to his talent with the bat.

This season he got 169 runs at 21.12 with a best of 73.

Back at the top 

Paul’s performances did not go unnoticed as the Cricket West Indies Selection Panel rewarded him with a recall to the West Indies One-Day squad for the current three-match series against Pakistan in Multan.

Next up West Indies will face Bangladesh in two Test matches in the Caribbean, followed by two months of white-ball cricket against Bangladesh, India and New Zealand, leading into the Caribbean Premier League and the World T20 in Australia.

With so much cricket on the horizon, the challenge for Paul is now managing his workload and guarding against injuries to ensure he is a viable option across all formats for the Caribbean side.

“Managing my body and knowing how I feel is going to be really important. Normally, I bowl long spells, but I have to try and cut down and manage it because I don’t really want to get injured again.”

Keemo Paul has been added to the West Indies squad for the ongoing ODI series against Pakistan


Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.