With all the criticism that has been levelled against the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) under the current Julian Hunte administration in recent years, one of the few things they deserve much credit for is the creation of the Sagicor High Performance Center (HPC), according to Berbician cricketer Veerasammy Permaul.
Permaul has spent the past two years at the centre which is based at the 3Ws Oval at the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies in Barbados.
It was opened in May 2010 under the banner “Return the West Indies to the top tier of world cricket.”
The WICB has faced criticism over the captaincy dilemma, selection policies, board structure and battles with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA).
With the performance of the regional side showing consistent decline dating back to the 1997/98 3-0 away series defeat in Pakistan, cricket pundits around the Caribbean deliberated on what mechanism could be used to fix these problems.
One of those problems was the lack of a strong first-class system in the region and the lack of opportunities for players to play high level cricket overseas in England, Australia, South Africa as in the 70s and 80s when the West Indies were the undisputed kings of world cricket.
Therefore, executives on the WICB established this long-awaited finishing school to assist talented young regional players so that when they make that step-up to the international level, they will be ready mentally, physically and technically.
Of the initial 15 players selected to be part of the center, Guyanese representatives were fast bowler Brandon Bess, Veerasammy Permaul and opener Rajendra Chandrika.
Stabroek Sport caught up with Permaul during the opening day of the Guyana’s Twenty20 squad’s encampment at the Bourda ground and he spoke about his experiences in Sagicor over the past two years, among other things.
“I think Sagicor is great for emerging West Indies players. It helps players to improve cricket in all facets, since they have the high tech facilities and expert coaches in batting such as Carl Hooper, bowling coach Roddy Estwick and selector Courtney Browne assisting the wicket-keepers.
“So for me it’s a really good initiative from WICB,” said the soft spoken Berbician.
Permaul also highlighted that since being a part of the HPC all aspects of his game has improved tremendously, especially his tactical understanding and appreciation of the game.
“Every aspect of my game has improved a notch in the last two years since being at HPC. One of the major improvements for me is how I approach the game off the field with regards to tactics and preparation. The coaches at the HPC over time have always encouraged me and the other players to do this,” he explained.
The 22-year-old left-arm spinner who had led the West Indies (A) versus Bangladesh (A) in A-Team test last month in St Lucia, has also been named vice-captain of the Amazon Conquerors side and he credits the tactical understanding of the game that he has achieved for getting him the prestigious opportunity.
Stabroek Sport asked him about the pressure he faces being one of Guyana’s main sources of capturing wickets along with Davendra Bishoo going into the Caribbean T20, his thoughts on the team’s chances of being successful in that competition and his own personal ambitions going forward. And Permaul was very positive but realistic on all fronts.
“I don’t feel much pressure although I know myself and Bishoo have a big role to play for Guyana in the T20. “I am a bowler who always tries to do the basics well and back my ability. Twenty20 is a game where most of time, the team that performs well on the day wins, so the boys as we begin preparations over the next month just have to make sure we are batting, bowling and fielding very well, so that when the tournament begins we can execute well on the day.
“Currently my focus is just on the Twenty20 tournament and the upcoming regional 4-day tournament. I’m just looking to perform well there and hopefully my performances are good enough for the selectors to notice,” Permaul concluded.