On a journey to the top!

— Rising star Kemo Paul eyes senior team selection

By Delvon Mc Ewan

Whether you want to view him as a rising star or a force to reckon with in Regional youth cricket, national youth cricketer Kemo Paul displayed the potential in the recently-concluded West Indies Cricket Board Under-19 tournament, that once harnessed, could enable him the opportunity to play at the highest level.

Paul, who hails from the Arawak village of Saxacalli on the left bank of the Essequibo River, recently featured in the national U-19 team that won the WICB double crown, the three-day and the one-day tournaments.

He was outstanding in the limited overs format of the tournament where he scored four half centuries.

 Kemo Paul Kemo Paul cuts during his half century against T&T.
Kemo Paul Kemo Paul cuts during his half century against T&T.

Three of those half centuries were scored in consecutive innings. Paul also played a defining innings in the first round of the longer format against the Leeward Islands when he batted responsibly in scoring 90 to save Guyana from outright defeat.

The youngster, in a telephone interview with this publication, said that performance, along with the 85 runs scored he scored in the first round of the limited overs encounter also against the Leewards, were two of the better innings he has played to date. In both encounters Guyana was in trouble.

In the three-day match they were fighting for a draw at 61-4, still 11 runs adrift from making the visitors bat again, when Paul entered the crease. He added 103 runs for the seventh wicket with wicket keeper/batsman Kemol Savoury (36) as the match ended in a draw.

His 85 in the 50 overs competition was even more defining as Guyana were struggling at 60-5 when he commenced his innings. Guyana went on to post 202 all out after Paul’s well-constructed innings ended with the score on 198.

That performance was followed by scores of 51 against the ICC Americas and 74 against Trinidad and Tobago. His final half century was a scintillating 51 off 32 deliveries that contained two fours and two sixes at the Albion Community Development Centre ground.

At age 16 Paul was the youngest member of the national U-19 team and his brilliance was recognized by the Director of Sport, Neil Kumar, who presented the all-rounder with a trophy for his contribution to the Guyana youth team.

The young player, who represents Essequibo at the Inter-County level but plays for the Demerara Cricket Club (DCC) when he is in Georgetown, has donned the national colours on six occasions at the youth level. These appearances were twice for the U-15s, thrice for the U-17s and his excellent run in this year’s U-19 team.

Kemo Paul
Kemo Paul

He has scored two half centuries at the U-15, three at the U-17 and five at the U-19 level for a compilation of 10 half centuries at the three levels of Regional youth cricket. However, he is yet to record a century with his highest score being 90 at the U-19 level.

With the senior inter-county competition looming, Paul said he is training hard to influence the selectors through his performance for a spot on the senior national side. According to him his training is mostly physical and it spans several hours during two sessions (in the mornings between 6a.m to 9a.m and in the afternoon between 4p.m to 6p.m). However, Paul is uncertain which team he will be representing during the inter-county, as the national U-19 team is set to replace the President’s XI as the fourth team in the competition. At 16 he bowls faster than most of his peers and collected eight wickets (six in the three-day and two in the 50 overs) during the U-19 competition.

A week before the commencement of the U-19 tournament, Paul scored 114 runs and took 10 wickets in Tobago for the national U-17 side. After that tournament his coach Garvin `Tibbsy’ Nedd touted Paul’s maturity during the U-17 tournament and said he expect greater achievements from the youngster in future tournaments.

When asked how he will remain focus until next year’s U-19 competition, Paul confidently replied by saying “I have to constantly keep playing and training and my two skills (his batting and bowling) will complement each other.”

Kemo Paul, a young talented all-rounder from the Land of Many Waters who can emulate the standards of previous West Indian greats, is firmly on his journey to the top.

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