West Indies all-rounder Keemo Paul has staked a strong claim to force his way into the Caribbean’s side final XI for the test match against England later this month following his excellent returns with the ball in his recent Regional first-class outing.
Paul, who has been in and around the West Indies side for the better part of 2018, has only gotten two opportunities at the test level. His first in the Caribbean against Bangladesh – his debut – last July and the other four months later against India in Rajkot where he went wickless but stroked a promising innings of 47 in Windies first innings.
He was then excluded for the final test match of that series and did not feature in West Indies’ most recent test matches against Bangladesh that followed.
His recent form with the ball, however, will inevitably provoke the interest of the Courtney Brown-led selection panel, moreso his rousing returns against the Windward Island Volcanoes, against whom he took his maiden 10-wicket match-haul (10-129) and got the ball to sway either side of the edges for most of the batsmen.
When asked by Stabroek Sport how he felt about his prospect of playing the first test, Paul said: “It’s all up to the selectors but once given the opportunity, I’ll definitely make the most of it… I think I’m ready.”
For Paul, whose batting is highly touted and who has shown promising glimpses at the international level, he may, at this point be competing against one of the out of sorts lower-order batsmen given his ability with the bat and his current bowling form.
The selectors, however, may decide to give him the nod as the first change seamer, on his current form.
Either way, the Essequibian is eager for another opportunity.
“I think my batting is definitely coming back around, and I am feeling pretty confident, and I am working on it a lot so once given the opportunity as I said, I am definitely looking to make an impact… I’ve been on the international stage for a couple of games now, so I want to make a bigger impact in games.”
He touched on his gruelling and demanding workload as a seamer, which began during the last Regional four-day season and involved the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) and his West Indies duties for which many pundits have expressed worry about.
Paul, however, while acknowledging the demands, explained that he is not too worried about it since he relies heavily on the prescribed rest and recovery regimen and his fitness to keep him going.
He also lauded the inputs of former West Indies seamer and current West Indies bowling coach, Corey Collymore – who was an excellent exponent of the seaming delivery – for his guidance and “tireless” mentorship that aided in his development.
Paul described, Collymore – a Barbadian – as his “big brother.”