Keemo Paul’s journey from a village in Guyana to the top

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safari
10 Jun 2020 | 11:43 AM
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Cricket.com Staff

Keemo Paul’s journey from a village in Guyana to the top

Paul had a tough childhood growing up in a small village in Guyana but is determined to make it big through cricket

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Keemo Paul first garnered eyeballs amidst a mankading incident during the U-19 World Cup, in 2016. With Zimbabwe needing three runs to win the quarter-final in the last over but with only one wicket in hand, Paul approached the bowling crease and mankaded the non-striker Richard Ngarava, a move which had the cricket world divided. 

West Indies won the quarter-final and eventually the World Cup with Paul hitting the winning runs in the final against India but he came in for a lot of unwarranted criticism for days to come. Paul admitted later that he just locked himself and cried a lot after the incident but since then he has come a long way. 

A handy lower middle-order batsman and a more than decent medium-pacer, Paul is a captain's delight especially in the shortest format of the game. A product of the Guyanese school of cricketers, at only 22, Paul has already played all three formats for the West Indies, been a regular member of the Guyana Amazon Warriors in the Caribbean Premier League and has played in the Indian Premier League for Delhi Capitals.

The road to the top though has been a rocky ride for Paul in every sense. Growing up in Saxacalli, a small fishing village located on the west bank of the Essequibo River, in Guyana, all Paul knew right from the start was to play cricket. He did not have enough means but still managed to push himself through. 

In the second episode of a documentary produced by CPL known as CPL Life Stories, Paul takes the viewers to his hometown of Saxacalli, talks about how the loss of his sister at a young age made him stronger and what the future holds for him.

The show starts with Paul on a boat with his father as they go to visit their home in the village. His house had no running water and no electricity and is more than 30 miles from the nearest road.

In a heart-wrenching story, Paul also reflects back how at a very young age he lost his eldest sister, Michelle. He visits her sister's grave and says that whatever he wants to achieve in life he wants to do it for her.

"I try to blank it out as much as possible. I was really close to my sister," Paul says often trying to hold back tears. "It was a really tough time for Mom at that time. It was a tough time for everyone but for Mom especially...her eldest daughter. She had to try to be as strong as possible because she left two kids aged two and three years."

"Every time I do something good, like in Bangladesh when I got my first five-wicket haul for the West Indies, that was most touching for me because it was Christmas time. And obviously, you're wishing your sister could've been home, but that's how it is.

"I got to be strong. All I want to do is achieve greatness for just my family, and her."

Paul is still very young in his international career but his exploits on the T20 circuit certainly have helped in making a name for himself. He was picked up by Guyana Amazon Warriors in CPL 2017 and has since played for them over the last three seasons. 2019 was his best season for the franchise where he managed 98 runs in 11 outings at 32.67 and picked up 11 wickets striking every 16.9 balls. 

Paul was also felicitated with the 'T20 Player of the Year' award in August 2019 by Cricket West Indies. 

"T20 cricket has come like a big boost. The CPL is also a fantastic league, it is just a different feeling in the entire Caribbean," Paul says. "CPL has definitely put me on a bigger stage of T20 cricket. 

"And the Amazon Warriors is just like, we are so closely knit together. It's a family."

Paul's CPL performances also got him a contract at the IPL. He was picked up by Delhi Capitals and played eight games for them in 2019 where he returned nine wickets striking every 18.1 balls. 

"Getting picked in the IPL was a special feeling," says Paul. We were all in a room in Bangladesh, me, (Nicholas) Pooran, Oshane (Thomas), Sherfane (Rutherford), Hettie (Shimron Hetmyer), just looking at it. 

"And when my name came up and I just got a bid, I just went down and thanked God for the opportunity."

Paul hasn't exactly set the world on fire yet. He has so far played three Tests, 19 ODIs and 18 T20Is but with the potential in place, Paul has it in him to become one of the best allrounders in the game.

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