Asks Rajiv Bisnauth
The decision of the national selectors to overlooked leg-spinner Devendra Bishoo for the forthcoming Regional Super50 tournament is a clear statement of their determination to start rejuvenating a spin department that is showing signs of fraying at the edges.
At some point the selectors were always likely to have to confront the stomach-churning decision of knowing when to decide the fate of Bishoo’s career. In attempting to determine exactly how Guyana’s and by extension the regional side fortunes will shape up without him, the local selectors have decided there is no better time than the present.
After the selectors opted to look beyond spin twins Neil McGarrell and Mahendra Nagamootoo, Bishoo and his Albion clubmate Veerasammy Permaul played a crucial role in the transformation of Guyana’s cricket and together they served the nation’s cricket for over a decade where the team gradually emerged as a leading one in regional cricket.
Although the man from Albion is yet to retire from any form of the game, he is unlikely to return to the national fold or even the regional sides as the selectors, both locally and regionally have clearly indicated that he is no longer part of their plans.
Having made his debut for Guyana in March 2008, playing alongside the likes of Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Ramnaresh Sarwan, Bishoo made an impact straightaway as he picked up a five-wicket haul in his maiden first-class innings.
Having churned out wickets at the domestic level for Guyana, Bishoo’s turning point came in the 2010 West Indies T20 tournament, when he helped Guyana win the tournament and also helped them qualify for the Champions League T20. He won the Man-of-the-series in that tournament, picking up 10 wickets in four matches at an astonishing average of 8.20 and with a superb economy rate of 5.12. Guyana put on a poor show at the Champions League, but Bishoo came out of the tournament with his head held high.
With sustained success, Bishoo was constantly knocking on the doors of the regional selectors who eventually answered, ahead of the 2011 World Cup.
Having been named in the provisional 30-member squad for the world event, he failed to make the final cut. But serendipity ensured his arrival in Chennai, where he delivered upon his promise with a three-wicket haul on ODI debut against England, albeit in a losing cause. In what was a successful 2011, Bishoo picked up 65 wickets across international formats and was named the ICC Emerging Cricketer of the Year. After the early success, 2012-2015 was a torrid time in Bishoo’s cricketing career. While his performances were on the retrograde, the likes of Sunil Narine and Shane Shillingford were quickly rising through the ranks, and the wrist spinner had to endure a tough three-year period on the sidelines.
Bishoo eventually forced his way back into the West Indies team on the back of consistent performances in the domestic circuit and has been at it ever since making it back. A six-wicket haul against Australia in Roseau and eight wickets in an innings against Pakistan in a 10-wicket haul in Dubai are among his memorable achievements in the last few years.
At 35, Bishoo boasts a wealth of experience, having played 36 Tests and 42 ODIs for a combined 155 wickets.
However, injury has plagued his career over the last few years, leading to him spending more time off the field than on it. Bishoo last played for West Indies in a T20 game against England in March 2019. His last ODI was against the same opponent in March 2019, while his last Test was against Bangladesh in December 2018.
Bishoo credits all his success to his parents. Having lost his father over two decade ago, his mother gave him the strength to achieve his goals. Everytime he goes out on the field wearing the West Indies cap, he takes a moment to remember his father, who had wanted him to be part of the West Indies. Today, looking at the rise of Devendra, Mohanlal Bishoo would be a very proud father indeed.
He took 387 First-Class wickets from 103 games while capturing 109 wickets from 81 List A games.
Success and failure have been alternating visitors in Bishoo’s cricketing home but the pragmatist that he is, he has been an unprejudiced host to both.