St John’s, ANTIGUA – Professional athletes must always be thinking “I must always challenge my limit never to miss an opportunity.” That must be what Keemo Paul is thinking now as he is on stand-by to go to Zimbabwe to join the WINDIES in the World Cup Qualifiers now on.
Paul is no stranger to pressure, excitement and being in the right place at the right time. He boasts an impressive bowling figure of 5 for 49 against the England Lions. The WINDIES A went down to the wire to win by a close 5 runs margin. That five-wickets haul form part of his overall 28 wickets at the List A level to include performances in the recently-concluded Super50 Cup and the One and Four Day matches against the England Lions.
Keemo, who just turned 20 on February 21 this year, was part of that WINDIES Under 19 that beat India in the final to secure the region’s first World Title for that category. He was the one who scored the final runs to secure that win against India. His last 24 months has had exciting and fulfilling performances.
Paul is on the fringe of becoming the 3rd member of that World Cup winning team to get in to the WINDIES elite team. His teammates Alzarri Joseph and Shimron Hetmyer have already secured spots.
Paul has played key roles in his Franchise Team, the Guyana Jaguars. The first of which was his final game as a “youth” cricketer when he helped the Young Jaguars to the Regional Under 19 title. He was the leading all-rounder for the tournament. Shortly after he made his first-class debut against Trinidad and Tobago and scored 27 valuable runs coming in at number 11; despite an injury to his hand. He couldn’t bowl for the remainder of that match.
After an absence of just one round, Paul took career best figures of 6-28 against the Windwards Islands as the Jaguars claimed their third consecutive four-day title. In the 2017 – 2018 Regional 4Day and still only 19 years of age, he had consistently good performances and despite the dominance of spin, Paul took an exceptional 42 wickets.
His coach when he won in 2016, Graeme West, thinks “his ability to swing the ball at a skiddy pace was just as effective in the shorter (50-overs) version of the game.” His game-changing 5 for 76 against the Leeward Islands Hurricanes “reinforced the reputation he has developed to perform well under pressure.”
The Super50 tournament spell was cut short; only for a move up to the next level as he replaced the injured Miguel Cummins in the WINDIES A side versus the touring England Lions. In the 4Day format, his stats read 7-0-25-2 and 3-1-3-0.
West is convinced that Keemo’s performances so far “only adds to the momentum that the young man is building and may well have edged him one step closer to following in Joseph and Hetmyer’s footsteps into the Senior side.”
Only time will tell.